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Reuters/Toru Hanai
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SWITCH HIT

It looks like the Nintendo Switch might be as popular as the Wii

By Mike Murphy

It seems like Nintendo has switched things up after the failure of its last video game console, the Wii U.

The Japanese game company plans to double the number of units it’s producing of its latest console, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal (paywall). The company had planned to produce about 8 million units of its new hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch, which went on sale around the world on March 3, but will now produce 16 million units by March 2018. Assuming all those units were shifted, this figure would put the Switch on par with the first-year sales of its most popular console ever, the Wii, which was released in 2006.

The Nintendo Switch, the first console from a major manufacturer that enables owners to play games in their living rooms as easily as during their commute to and from wherever, has the potential to disrupt the gaming industry, much like the Wii did a decade earlier. The Wii, the first console to incorporate motion-based controllers into a console, introduced a wide swathe of nontraditional gamers to simple, fun games that anyone could enjoy. Nintendo ended up selling over 100 million Wiis. The Switch, which incorporates a new generation of motion controllers into the myriad ways to play the console, still has a ways to go to get close to those sales figures. But Nintendo’s intention to double its production does seem to suggest that it has gotten off to a good start.

This is even more impressive for Nintendo, given that the most popular game for the Wii, Wii Sports, was available at the launch of the console (and even bundled with it in many countries), whereas there really hasn’t been much to play on the Switch so far, other than a new Zelda game, which has received stellar reviews. Perhaps when some of the more popular third-party franchises, like FIFA, Minecraft, and Skyrim, start showing up on the Switch later in the year—and Nintendo’s own properties, like Mario Kart and Super Mario—it’ll be enough to keep sales high and challenge the Wii’s crown. At the very least, if Nintendo makes and sells only the 16 million consoles over the next year, and no more, the Switch would still be a bigger seller than the Wii U was.

Nintendo declined to comment on its Switch production plans.