Why Nintendo needs its new game console to be a hit, in one chart

After a brief tease in late October, Nintendo on Thursday night blew the lid off its new hybrid gaming console, the Switch. It has gaming enthusiasts very excited. But investors? Not so much. Nintendo’s share price has fallen nearly 6% in Japanese markets since the company’s reveal event.

The dip underscores the Switch’s significance for the gaming giant. You’ve probably heard it before, but this chart from Statista puts it in perspective: Nintendo’s hardware sales are down, down, down. While the company had huge success with the Wii and the DS portable console — and, to a lesser extent, its 3DS follow-up — it’s been on a steady decline on all fronts since 2009. And it’s not like the GameCube or Nintendo 64 blew up the charts before the Wii.

Now, the Switch will try selling a weaker all-in-one console in a market where Sony is well-entrenched, Microsoft is apparently improving, and everyone already carries a mobile device at all times. The “tablet” portion of the device isn’t terribly powerful, either, and the launch event didn’t give much reason to think that third-party developers will support the Switch as much as they do other systems. Those spectres of the Wii U, combined with slowing revenue from Nintendo’s mobile pursuits, are likely what have investors spooked.

Nintendo deserves credit for making something inventive, and it’s entirely possible that people will love the idea of playing full-scale “Zelda” or “Mario” games on the go. But from a business standpoint, there are understandable reasons to think Nintendo won’t stop its hardware slide completely.

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