How Nintendo Became One of the Year’s Unlikeliest Success Stories

It's not the first time the company has succeeded in a time of crisis

Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch suddenly feels ubiquitous.
Elvis untot/Creative Commons

To say that Nintendo is a technological and pop-cultural mainstay is nothing new — the company has had a presence in the United States for decades, and multiple generations have played games on their consoles and handheld devices. But there’s something about Nintendo in the present moment that makes the company seem even more foregrounded than usual. Maybe it’s the ubiquity of Animal Crossing: New Horizons; maybe it’s something else.

Whatever the reasons, Nintendo has been having a banner year at a time when many companies are understandably struggling. Now, at The Washington Post, Jon Irwin offers a look at what factors may have contributed to this. As Irwin writes, the company has done remarkably well in the midst of a difficult financial time for many:

After forecasting Switch sales of 18 million units and a net profit of 180 billion yen for the past fiscal year, Nintendo announced Thursday it had sold over 21 million consoles and made nearly 260 billion yen in profit. This March, they not only sold more units of their Switch console than during its launch in 2017, but sold the most consoles in a month for any platform in a decade. Another crisis, another unlikely victory.

Irwin points out that this isn’t the first time Nintendo has done well at a time of financial uncertainty: the Nintendo Entertainment System was released around the time of the fall 1987 stock market crash. And the Wii sold very well in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.

Among the factors that Irwin cites as helping Nintendo succeed is the wide appeal of its products. The array of games available for the Switch, for instance, includes everything from escapist fare to intensive strategy games. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see why this company has endured as well as it has.

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