The ongoing chip shortage, which has affected nearly every electronic device on the planet, has forced Nintendo to grapple with a production reduction. Nikkei Asia reports that the Kyoto-based company will make 20 percent fewer Switch consoles through the end of its fiscal year, which wraps in March. All told, that amounts to about 24 million fewer units.
On the heels of an understandably muted 2020, the past year has seen renewed vigor from Nintendo—and heightened interest from consumers as well.
2021 has, in fact, been an incredible year for the company. In March, Nintendo released a Switch version of the Wii U’s Super Mario 3D World bundled with a short but terrific game called Bowser’s Fury. That package sold nearly 6 million copies. Last month, Nintendo released a new model of the Switch, the OLED Model, with a bigger, brighter screen (but few other improvements). Like Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, it’s tough as hell to get your hands on one. The first Metroid game in nearly two decades, Metroid Dread, landed the same day as the OLED, to critical praise and shattered sales records. And just last week, Nintendo put a “new” Mario Party into the world. Data is still incoming, but early whispers suggest that the game is already responsible for a staggering 11 bazillion friendship endings.
Nintendo has big plans on the horizon, too. Next week, it will release a massive update to its hugely popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons life sim. A few weeks from now, we’ll see total remakes of the two best Pokémon games. In January, Nintendo will release a new open-world...ish Pokémon game called Pokémon Legends Arceus. Those will all be followed, at currently unspecified dates, by Splatoon 3, Bayonetta 3, and a deliriously anticipated sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (Don’t hold your breath, but Metroid Prime 4 might be in the mix some day as well.)
To date, the Switch has sold nearly 90 million units since its 2017, on track to outpace the 102 million benchmark set by Nintendo’s Wii, released in 2006. But the effects of this latest reduction could already be here. According to NPD data, September 2021 ended the Switch’s 33-month streak as the top-selling console in the United States. It was unseated by the PS5.