Switch Sports Proves Nintendo’s Extreme Patience Pays Off

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In the mid-2000s, Sports Wii was the greatest game on the planet. If Activision, EA, or Ubisoft had released the collection of minigames, we’d have a dozen sequels and a reboot at this point — maybe an animated show on Nickelodeon, too. For better or worse, Wii Sports is a Nintendo franchise, so instead we got a sequel, a remake, and a decade of radio silence.

As a fan of the title, I was disappointed every time Nintendo ended a press conference or Nintendo Direct without mentioning motion-controlled bowling. But as an editor who’s covered this beat since the days of the Wii, I understood the business logic of it all. Nintendo has so many beloved studios that they could cannibalize each other if every series got the sequels fans felt they deserved.

So I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

When the publisher announced Nintendo Switch Sports last year, I had almost given up hope. I had assumed that if Nintendo wanted to take advantage of the Wii Sports formula, they would have produced another pack-in for the Switch. I was wrong in every way.

As the sales numbers (and empty shelves at my local Target) show, Nintendo didn’t need a pack-in game to sell the Switch. And or Sports Wii helped sell the Nintendo Wiis, the success of the Switch has the potential to make Nintendo Switch Sports a colossal blow. This year alone, the Switch has overtaken the Wii in terms of total sales, surpassing 100 million units sold. In other words, the potential audience for Nintendo Switch Sports is gargantuan. And should Nintendo Switch Sports do the classic Nintendo game, amassing huge multi-year sales figures, then the game will keep the Switch relevant as it moves through the golden years of its hardware lifecycle.

Once again, Nintendo has proven that patience is a virtue. We saw a similar situation last year with Metroid Dreada project that had been bouncing in and out of development since 2005. Whether the publisher is waiting for the right moment to relaunch a series, or keeping a project in development hell, the end result is the same: sustained quality than its peers do not have. t matches (and probably never will).

Until recently, the quote “a delayed game is ultimately good, but a rushed game is always bad” was incorrectly attributed to Nintendo icon and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. It’s far more likely, however, that the quote was just a common phrase in the gaming industry, the kind of aphorism that helps creatives put off the accounting team for another month or two. I’d rather think that Miyamoto didn’t coin the phrase, because that would mean every major publisher in the gaming industry knows that mantra to be true. Only Nintendo has always experienced it.


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