Game on


Hard­ware wrin­kles can’t stop Switch from break­ing sales records

De­spite wrin­kles in its hard­ware de­sign, Nin­tendo Switch is off to a fine start

Now that’s more like it. We may have fussed about the lofty price, the lowly bat­tery life and the rake-thin launch lineup, but Switch is off to a flyer. Over its first two days on sale it be­came Nin­tendo’s fastest-sell­ing con­sole in his­tory in the Amer­i­cas and Europe; Breath Of The Wild be­came its fastest sell­ing launch ti­tle, too. In the UK, Nin­tendo sold more copies of the new Zelda than it did of Wii Sports in 2006 – and that was bun­dled. Yes, Breath Of The Wild out­sold, at launch, the fifth-most pop­u­lar con­sole of all time.

In Ja­pan, Nin­tendo sold 313,000 units of its new hard­ware in a week, putting Switch within 10,000 of PS4’s launch sales in the ter­ri­tory. Of course, there are caveats. Wii was se­verely sup­ply con­strained at launch, as Nin­tendo strug­gled to cope with launch­ing a new con­sole in every ma­jor ter­ri­tory in the space of three weeks. Wii U had a rea­son­able launch week­end too, and we all know how that turned out. The re­lease sched­ule for the com­ing months still looks some­what bare, even if indies have helped fill in some of the gaps.

Prob­lems per­sist, in­evitably. The hand­held’s fit in the TV dock is sur­pris­ingly flimsy – it rocks back and forth when in place, and get­ting it in and out is more awk­ward than the mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als sug­gested. Some Switch screens have been scratched as a re­sult; it’s a trou­bling over­sight from a com­pany whose hard­ware has al­ways seemed rock solid, the sort of thing that should have been iden­ti­fied, and erad­i­cated, early on in the pro­to­type stage.

Sim­i­larly trou­bling is an is­sue with the left half of the Joy-Cons. No sooner had the Switch hard­ware pre­view em­bargo lifted than the in­ter­net was set ablaze by claims that the con­troller would ran­domly lose its con­nec­tion to the con­sole dur­ing play. Was it a ques­tion of range? Of line of sight? Could it be fixed through soft­ware, or would af­fected Switch users need re­place­ments? One con­sole tear­down sug­gests it is, in­deed, a hard­ware prob­lem: the left-hand con­troller’s wire­less an­tenna is of a dif­fer­ent de­sign and lo­ca­tion to the right­hand one, and is po­si­tioned along the edge that sits in your palm, which may ex­plain why the sig­nal drops out. Per­haps that’s why so much of the pre-launch mar­ket­ing showed us all those rooftop 1-2-Switch par­ties, with the con­sole in

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