Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch
The logo for the Nintendo Switch console. It is two heavily stylized white Joy-Con controllers on a red background. Below them is the text "NINTENDO SWITCH" in white.
A Nintendo Switch in TV Mode (above) and in Handheld Mode with Joy-Con attached (below)
Also known as
  • NX
  • HAC (code names)
DeveloperNintendo Platform Technology Development
ManufacturerFoxconn, Hosiden
TypeHybrid video game console
GenerationEighth generation
Release dateMarch 3, 2017
Lifespan2017 (2017)–present
Introductory price
Units shipped
Combined: 41.67 million
  • Switch: 39.7 million
  • Switch Lite: 1.95 million (as of September 30, 2019)
Operating systemNintendo Switch system software
System-on-chip usedNvidia Tegra X1–based
CPUQuad-core Cortex-A57 + quad-core Cortex-A53 @ 1.02 GHz
Memory4 GB LPDDR4
Storage32 GB eMMC
Removable storagemicroSD/HC/XC (up to 2 TB)
InputVolume +/− buttons, power button
Controller input
CameraAmbient light sensor
TouchpadMulti-touch capacitive
PowerLithium-ion battery
  • Voltage: 3.7 V
  • Capacity: 15.95 Wh, 4310 mAh
  • Duration:
Current firmware9.1.0, as of 4 December 2019; 53 days ago (2019-12-04)
Online services
  • Width: 173 mm (6.8 in)
  • Height: 102 mm (4.0 in)
  • Depth: 14 mm (0.55 in)
  • 297 g (10.5 oz) (console only)
  • 398 g (14.0 oz) (Joy-Con attached)
Best-selling gameMario Kart 8 Deluxe (19.01 million as of September 30, 2019)[1]
PredecessorWii U

The Nintendo Switch[a] is a video game console developed by Nintendo, released on March 3, 2017. It is a hybrid console that can be used as a console and portable device. Its wireless Joy-Con controllers, with standard buttons and directional analog sticks for user input, motion sensing, and tactile feedback, can attach to both sides of the console to support handheld-style play. They can also connect to a Grip accessory to provide a traditional home console gamepad form, or be used individually in the hand like the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, supporting local multiplayer modes. The Nintendo Switch's software supports online gaming through Internet connectivity, as well as local wireless ad hoc connectivity with other consoles. Nintendo Switch games and software are available on both physical flash-based ROM cartridges and digital distribution via Nintendo eShop; the system has no region lockout. As an eighth-generation console, the Nintendo Switch competes with Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

Known in development by its codename NX, the concept of the Switch came about as Nintendo's reaction to several quarters of financial losses into 2014, attributed to poor sales of its previous console, the Wii U, and market competition from mobile gaming. Nintendo's then-president Satoru Iwata pushed the company towards mobile gaming and novel hardware. The Nintendo Switch's design is aimed at a wide demographic of video game players through the multiple modes of use. Nintendo opted to use more standard electronic components, such as a chipset based on Nvidia's Tegra line, to make development for the console easier for programmers and more compatible with existing game engines. As the Wii U had struggled to gain external support, leaving it with a weak software library, Nintendo preemptively sought the support of many third-party developers and publishers to help build out the Switch's game library alongside Nintendo's own first-party titles, including many independent video game studios. While Nintendo initially anticipated around 100 titles for its first year, over 320 titles from first-party, third-party, and independent developers were released by the end of 2017.

The Nintendo Switch was unveiled in October 2016 and was released in most areas worldwide on March 3, 2017.[b] The console shipped nearly three million in the first month of its launch, exceeding Nintendo's initial projection of two million, and within a year of release achieved over 14 million units sold worldwide, outselling total lifetime sales of the Wii U. By the start of 2018, the Switch became the fastest-selling home console in both Japan and the United States. As of September 2019, the Nintendo Switch has sold more than 41 million units worldwide.[3] Switch sales have been strongly tied to sales of Nintendo's first-party titles, with five games, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Pokémon: Let's Go having sold over ten million units each. A handheld-focused revision of the system, called the Nintendo Switch Lite, was released on September 20, 2019.



Nintendo had seen record revenues, net sales and profits in 2009 as a result of the release of the Wii and Nintendo DS in 2006 and 2004 respectively,[4][5][6] but in Nintendo's subsequent years, its revenues had declined.[7][8] The company had posted its first loss as a video game company in 2012 prior to the Wii U's introduction that year, and had similar losses in the following years due to the console's poor uptake.[9] The New York Times attributed Nintendo lowering financial forecasts in 2014 to weak hardware sales against mobile gaming.[10] Previously, the company had been hesitant about this market, with then-president Satoru Iwata considering that they would "cease to be Nintendo" and lose their identity if they attempted to enter it.[11] About three years prior to the Switch's announcement, Iwata, Tatsumi Kimishima, Genyo Takeda, and Shigeru Miyamoto crafted a strategy for revitalizing Nintendo's business model, which included approaching the mobile market, creating new hardware, and "maximizing [their] intellectual property".[12] Prior to his death, Iwata was able to secure a business alliance with Japanese mobile provider DeNA to develop mobile titles based on Nintendo's first-party franchises, believing this approach would not compromise their integrity.[13][14] Following Iwata's death in July 2015, Kimishima was named as president of Nintendo, while Miyamoto was promoted to the title of "Creative Fellow".[12]


Initial conception for the Switch started shortly after the release of the Wii U in 2012.[15] Kimishima stated that when Nintendo was evaluating what new hardware they wanted to produce, they "didn't just want a successor" to either the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U, but instead asked "what kind of new experience can we create?"[12] In an interview with Asahi Shimbun, Kimishima stated that the Switch was designed to provide a "new way to play" that would "have a larger impact than the Wii U".[16][17][18] Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé emphasized the console's appeal as a device that would provide gamers the option to play at home or on the go, and noted that it would enable developers to create new types of games.[19] This approach continued Nintendo's blue ocean strategy for the competitive console marketplace, as rather than compete feature for feature with the other consoles, they would establish unique and difficult-to-copy devices.[20] Miyamoto said that some broad concepts of the Switch extend from the "lateral thinking with seasoned technology" design philosophy of Gunpei Yokoi that Nintendo has used over the last couple of decades.[21]

The design of the Switch was aimed to bridge the polarization of the gaming market at the time, creating a device that could play "leisurely" video games along games that are aimed to be played "deeply", according to Shinya Takahashi and Yoshiaki Koizumi, general manager and deputy general manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Planning & Development division (EPD), respectively.[15] This approach also would apply to the cultural lifestyle and gaming differences between Japanese and Western players; Japanese players tend to play on the go and with social groups, while Western players tend to play at home by themselves.[22] The design of the Switch would meet both cultures, and certain games, like 1-2-Switch, could potentially make social gaming more acceptable in Western.[23] Two key elements that were set to address this mixed market were the ability for the unit to play both on a television screen and as a portable, and the use of detachable controllers.[15] The "Switch" name was selected not only to refer to the console's ability to switch from handheld to home console modes, but to present "the idea of being a 'switch' that will flip and change the way people experience entertainment in their daily lives".[24]

Part of the inspiration of the Switch's form and design was from feedback players had given Nintendo on the Wii Remote, according to Shinya Takahashi. With the release of games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, players had asked Nintendo if they could make the Wii Remote in a smaller form factor, potentially strapped to a part of their body. This led to Nintendo envisioning what a smaller form-factor controller could provide in both hardware and gameplay, and led to the idea of a console that was small enough with these new controllers to also be portable.[25] Other concepts came out of consumer feedback that was critical of the Wii U. Fils-Aimé said that one common criticism they had for the Wii U was that while players did enjoy using the Wii U GamePad and would want to play games on it anywhere, it became functionless if they moved a distance away from the main console. This served for Nintendo to design a home console that the player could take with them anywhere.[26] Around five different prototypes were developed for the Switch before they finalized on the released design. This included developing different methods of how the Joy-Con controllers would physically connect to the console, including using magnets to hold them in place.[15]

In addition to the form-factor design, Nintendo needed to balance the power and speed of the console's central processing unit with battery life and the unit's size, coupled with limited development resources and deadlines set by Nintendo's management. One choice made by the development team was to use an existing system on a chip (SOC) rather than creating their own as they had done on previous consoles. Koizumi said that this break from tradition was done to gain more third-party support for the console by using an SOC that developers could easily port to. Nintendo was not focused on raw processing power, but were instead looking to balance the overall features of the system, including battery life and size, as well as keeping in mind their limited development resources and timeline. Koizumi said "The most difficult part was on how to take an overall balance while we were getting entangled with all of those in complexity."[15] To achieve this balance, they did not opt to use the more powerful hardware they could have used, instead using a middle-ground approach to achieve their vision of the Switch.[27]

Koizumi served as the general producer of the Switch during development.[22] According to Miyamoto, the Switch's development within Nintendo was headed by younger employees, with him saying "it's really been them that have put this forward and designed this system".[28][29] Miyamoto said of the younger employees: "I always look for designers who aren’t super-passionate game fans. I make it a point to ensure they're not just a gamer, but that they have a lot of different interests and skill sets."[29] Junior developers were also used to help brainstorm ideas of how to make sure the Switch had a longer lifestyle beyond the typical five-to-six years as most other consoles had.[30] Miyamoto, Takeda, and Iwata were less involved, but provided necessary oversight on the Switch's development principally around the cost of implementing new features that would make the Switch stand out.[21] For Miyamoto, his limited involvement allowed him to spend more time on Nintendo's software titles being developed at the time, such as Super Mario Run.[28]


The first public news of about the Switch's hardware happened alongside the announcement of Nintendo and DeNA's partnership on March 17, 2015. At this stage, Nintendo referred to the console under the codename "NX", and described it as a "brand new concept".[31] At an investor's meeting in April 2016, Nintendo announced that it planned to release the NX worldwide in March 2017.[32][33] While Nintendo did not unveil the NX's hardware at E3 2016 in June, it did announce that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was originally announced as a Wii U-exclusive, would also be released for the NX. At a Nintendo shareholders' meeting following the conference, Miyamoto stated that the company had concerns that competitors could copy ideas from the NX if they revealed it too soon.[34][35] The following month, rumors began to surface surrounding the nature of the console, including its use of Nvidia Tegra hardware, being a "hybrid" device intended for both home and mobile use, controllers that can detach from the main device and be played separately, and that Nintendo would distribute games on the console via cartridges and digital downloads.[36][37][38]

On October 20, 2016, Nintendo officially announced the console under the name Nintendo Switch, alongside a trailer that demonstrated the hardware's nature as a hybrid device.[39] At the time of the trailer's release, Nintendo did not provide many details on features of the platform, though they planned to have events in 2017 to provide more details about the console. The company did state that there are additional features that were not presented in the introductory trailer.[40][41] Miyamoto and Fils-Aimé presented the Switch to host Jimmy Fallon on a broadcast of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in December 2016. In addition to showing more of the console's hardware and functionality, Fallon was given the opportunity to play part of Breath of the Wild live.[42]

Nintendo revealed technical details of the Switch, including its worldwide launch date and price, at a press event in Tokyo on January 13, 2017.[43] The event was livestreamed,[44] with an English voiceover provided by Nintendo of America through their broadcast and regional Twitter accounts relaying details in other languages. A Nintendo Treehouse event occurred the following day to reveal the full launch lineup and upcoming games for the Switch.[45]


The Switch was officially released on March 3, 2017 worldwide, notably in all key markets, but excluding some parts of Asia, including India and Mainland China.[2] It was released with an MSRP of ¥29,980 in Japan, US$299.99 in the United States, GB£279.99 in the United Kingdom, and A$469.95 in Australia; with standardized pricing for the European market varying.[46][47][48] The set includes a Switch console, a dock, two Joy-Con controllers (left and right) and straps, a Joy-Con Grip, an AC power adapter and an HDMI cable.[49][50] There were two Switch bundles available at launch, one with grey Joy-Con and one with neon red and blue Joy-Con.[51] Nintendo feared that a higher price would harm sales, which prompted them to not include any additional hardware or games.[52]

The Switch continued to be officially released in particular markets, such as Argentina on August 15, 2017[53] and in South Korea and Taiwan on December 1.[54][55] Independent resellers have been trading the console in Brazil since March 2017 due to Nintendo's exit from the Brazilian market in 2015.[56] Nintendo has since assigned NC Games as their local game distributor in May 2017,[57] and the local company has committed to sell some officially imported Nintendo Switch units in small quantities.[58] In April 2018, CD Media, Nintendo's official distributor in Greece and the Balkans since 2016, announced after opening their new offices in Istanbul, that Nintendo's products will officially be distributed in Turkey later in the year.[59] Nintendo abruptly withdrew from the Turkish market back in June 2012 when then-distributor Nortec Eurasia closed.[60] CD Media released the Nintendo Switch in Turkey in July 2018.[61][62] Nintendo's Singapore-based distributor, Maxsoft, officially launched the Nintendo Switch in the Philippines and Thailand on November 30, 2018.[63] In early-2019, Nintendo of Europe signed a partnership with Tel Aviv-based distributor TorGaming Ltd., making them Nintendo's official distributor in Israel, and launched their products in the market, including the Nintendo Switch, on March 1, 2019.[64] Nintendo's Dubai-based distributor, Active Gulf, officially launched the Nintendo Switch in the Oman on September 27, 2019.[65]

Although the Nintendo Switch had not officially been released in China prior to December 2019, it is still widely available in the country due to grey market imports from Hong Kong and other regions.[66] In January 2018, former Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said in an interview with Chinese news website QQ that Nintendo has tried to release the Switch in China, but has been unable to do so.[66][67] Nintendo partnered with Tencent in April 2019 to gain the necessary approvals to release the Switch in China, along with a test version of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe;[68] it was released on December 10, 2019 at a base price of CN¥2,099 or about US$298.[69] Tencent will continue to help Nintendo bring other Switch games through China's approval process via National Radio and Television Administration.[68] In addition, Tencent will help localize various titles, and help implement the Nintendo Switch Online service within the country, integrating its offerings with the WeChat payment systems.[70]


A Splatoon 2-themed bundle was released in Europe on July 21, 2017 and in Japan; additionally, a separate bundle that included "neon" green and pink Joy-Con (matching the color schemes from Splatoon 2) was offered in Japan.[71][72] The bundle was released in North America as a Walmart exclusive on September 8, 2017.[73] A Monster Hunter XX pack-in bundle was released in August 2017 in Japan, with themed decals on the console and dock.[74] A Super Mario Odyssey pack-in bundle was released alongside the game on October 27, 2017, which includes red Joy-Con and a themed carrying case.[75][76]

In May 2018, the "2nd Unit Set" was released in Japan, exclusively on the My Nintendo Store at a reduced price of ¥24,980. The bundle was positioned towards households which already owned a Switch and. as such, it did not include a dock, AC adapter, HDMI cable, and Joy-Con Grip.[77][78] A Mario Tennis Aces and 1-2-Switch pack-in bundle with neon red and blue Joy-Con was released in North America on September 5, exclusively at Walmart.[79] A Fortnite bundle with red and blue Joy-Con which included Fortnite Battle Royale exclusive items and in-game currency was released in North America on October 5 and in Japan on November 22.[80][81] A Minecraft pack-in bundle with gray Joy-Con and Minecraft stickers was released in Japan on November 30.[81] A Diablo III: Eternal Collection pack-in bundle with themed decals on the dock, console and a carrying case was released on November 2 in Europe and in the United States exclusively at GameStop.[82][83][84] A Super Smash Bros. Ultimate-themed bundle, including a branded Dock and Joy-Con, was released the same day, which includes a download code for the game.[85] A Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and a Let's Go, Eevee!-themed bundles were released worldwide on their game's launch day on November 16. They included a console with Pikachu and Eevee decals on the back, a dock with a decal of both on the front, a right and left Joy-Con and their straps based on the color scheme of each Pokémon respectively, a preinstalled version of the game, and a Poké Ball Plus peripheral.[86][87] A Mario Kart 8 Deluxe red and blue Joy-Con pack-in bundle was released in North America on November 23 Black Friday.[88]

A red and blue Joy-Con bundle with US$35 Nintendo eShop credit was released on February 15, 2019.[89]

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