The Nintendo Switch entered its fifth year on the market in 2022 and is nearing its sixth anniversary in March. The hybrid console continues to do the unthinkable; keep the players entertained with great games and sell incredibly well, while also showing its age more than it ever has before.
Most of the conversation about the Switch in 2022 has been marred by games with performance issues and speculation of a Switch Pro or Switch 2. However, exclusive games like Triangle Strategy, Live A Live, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus are met with critical praise and/or remarkable sales figures.
Now that we’ve done one more lap around the sun with our Switch in tow, let’s dig into how Nintendo continues to do the impossible.
Software Is King
At the end of the day, most of the people that play games aren’t enthusiasts. They’re everyday people and children that are going on with their lives, and when they have a quiet moment, they want to play games. Nintendo satiated that audience with some spectacular exclusive games in 2022, and Switch owners ate them up.
2022 started off strong with Game Freak’s new take on the Pokémon franchise; Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Game Freak reinvented the core gameplay mechanics, bucking a long-familiar formula. Breathing fresh air into a franchise growing stale to the aging Pokémon audience. This new perspective culminated in a fun new way to play and enjoy Pokémon.
While everyone else was playing Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West, Switch owners were diving into Triangle Strategy – arguably, the Switch’s best exclusive of 2022. I promise you that I am not being hyperbolic when I say, my time with Triangle Strategy was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in gaming – full stop. The story and characters had me talking to the TV when certain events transpired. The gameplay had me fixated and meticulously strategizing. The art style captivated me and the soundtrack transported me to Norzelia.
The hits did not stop there. Kirby and The Forgotten Land impressed critics and sold well. Live A Live and Xenoblade Chronicle 3 stuck the landing. Splatoon 3’s audience got to eat, Bayonetta 3 was released to a warm reception (despite controversy), and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope provided more turn-based fun.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine in the Mushroom Kingdom. Nintendo Switch Sports and Mario Strikers: Battle League both felt incomplete at launch; highlighting a new trend where Nintendo releases free updates with bonus content post-launch to soften the blow. Plus, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet were released with utterly laughable performance issues. But the game still sold well.
It seems Nintendo has established enough good faith in its software, that despite some of the platform’s blunders in 2022, people still bought and enjoyed their games. Although, I think we’d all appreciate the publisher tightening up a bit. Considering the state of the economy, people may tighten up their spending. Speaking of sales, hardware sales for the Nintendo Switch kept on trucking.
Nintendo Switch: The Sales Champion
While Twitter constantly clocked the sales of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, it seemed like the Nintendo Switch always edged them out. It’s startling to think that after nearly six years on the market, people are still buying new Switches.
According to VGChartz, the Nintendo Switch sold 17,360,467 units in 2022. Leaving the PS5 in second place with 11,971,256 units sold, and Xbox Series X|S in third place moving 9,491,372 units. With 44.7% market share in 2022 alone, the Nintendo Switch stands tall.
I have two theories here: children and clumsy adults keep breaking their consoles while in handheld mode, or collectors are buying up every bundle that ships with unique Joy-Cons. There can’t still be people deciding to buy a Nintendo Switch for the first time, right? I’d think most would assume a new Switch is right around the corner, and I’m not alone in thinking that.
The Little-Engine-That-Could Approaching Retirement?
Throughout 2022 it was Switch Pro this, and Switch 2 that. While ostensibly all claims are unsubstantiated, there’s still the looming NVIDIA leak which led many to speculate that a new Switch is on the horizon.
However, as of late, plans for a Switch Pro were canceled. That could mean that Nintendo is preparing for whatever is next. I personally still think that Nintendo should release a console-only version of the Switch. Particularly, if they decide to leave the Switch and its games stranded on that platform. Give it a better performance and let the great games shine, but those dreams died. C’est la vie, I suppose.
Let’s just hope that whatever comes next supports backward compatibility. That’s been a trademark of Nintendo; with the Wii accepting GameCube discs, the GameBoy Advance supporting GameBoy and GameBoy Color games, and 3DS supporting DS games. There are too many great games to leave behind, despite everyone and their brother owning what seems to be multiple Switches.
Nintendo Switch 2022 Wrap-Up
Ultimately, 2022 was a great year for the Nintendo Switch. The console saw some great games and great sales numbers, despite hitting some speed bumps along the way. While the future of Nintendo’s gaming platforms is uncertain, the Switch seems to be chugging along just fine (pardon the frame rate pun).
With The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe, and Octopath Traveler II already in the pipeline, a solid 2023 draws near. Who knows, maybe we’ll finally see Advance Wars 1+2: ReBoot Camp this year!
What did you think of Nintendo’s 2022? Let us know in the comments below!