Nintendo Switch is one of the most closed and mysterious platforms when it comes to the amount of sales data available. However, discoverability expert Simon Carless has tried to analyze the state of the platform and chances of finding success in this oversaturated market.

Nintendo Switch discoverability: Less than 10% of 200 new releases in any given month reach the top 300 by downloads

For the latest GameDiscoverCo newsletter, Carless analyzed the top 300 most downloaded games on Nintendo Switch in the US for a specific date — May 21, 2023 — to see how new releases perform on the eShop.

“There’s no review count or public player profiles. So the only reliable data we analyze is ‘top downloads over the last 14 days’ info, viewed via the console UI,” he noted.

Below are some of the key findings.

  • Only 41 of the top 300 most downloaded games on the US eShop in May 2023 launched this year. Two of them were free-to-play.
  • When looking at the top 100, there were only 10 new releases (seven premium and three free-to-play).
  • Of the top 50 most downloaded games on the US eShop, 20 are free-to-play titles, 13 are Nintendo’s first-party games, and 17 are third-party premium titles (there is only one newly launched game, Dokapon Kingdom).

The share of new releases in the top 100 most downloaded Switch games in the US is extremely low 

  • Less than 10% of roughly 200 Switch releases in any given month make it into the top 300. According to GameDiscoverCo’s estimates, “being #200 on the U.S. charts gets you ~5,000 worldwide unit sales during those 14 days” (~10,000 copies for being #100).
  • Carless noted that only 4-5 Switch games that came out in May 2023 topped 50k units sold, compared to 10-12 on Steam. So new releases on the eShop really struggle to hit 50k-100k in sales in their launch month.
  • The situation was much better in 2018 when there were only 1,500 games available to 32 million Switch users, vs. over 10,000 titles and 125 million consoles today.
  • It all comes down to the platform’s biggest problem — the lack of visibility. The most downloaded chart, filled with evergreen hits and heavily discounted titles, is not enough, and Nintendo doesn’t seem to care about adding other discoverability tools like Steam’s Discovery Queue.

“[Switch is] still a platform you should consider launching on, but it’s not the powerhouse for new launches it was — for third-parties — 4 or 5 years ago,” Carless concluded. “And that’s almost entirely down to supply-demand changes on Nintendo’s platform. More games, more discounts, more choice – c’est la vie?”

More data and insights into the state of Nintendo Switch can be found in the full article.

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