Talking Point: Is Nintendo Making As Many Games As It Used To?

Wii U Games© Nintendo Life

Just over seven years ago, Nintendo made a large but discreet move that would have a huge impact on its future: it unified its divisions for handheld devices and consoles. At the time, this seemed like a move that would allow the two types of development teams to better share development ideas and resources, but rumors also emerged suggesting the company was doing this to prepare for a new unified hardware concept. Some hoped that this would mean some kind of hybrid hardware, while others predicted that games would be made that could play so much on a hypothetical future Nintendo console. or Hand. As it would happen, both of them the groups ended up being right, in a sense. Nintendo officially unveiled the Switch a little over three years after its divisions merged, while it unveiled the Switch Lite about a year ago.

The move to a single platform was widely praised as the right one, given the company’s recent struggles with the development of home console games and the fact that Nintendo handhelds have always been the strongest pillar of its business. One of the (many) reasons the Wii U failed was due to long “droughts” between notable launches; Significant third-party releases were virtually non-existent on the platform, and Big N was still figuring out how to consistently pump games in HD.

Therefore, it was assumed that having all of Nintendo’s development staff working on one platform would surely mean that the volume and development workflow of new games would increase and improve considerably. During the last briefing for Nintendo shareholders, President Shuntaro Furukawa even echoed this sentiment in one of his responses. Describing why he thinks the Switch has been generating a huge boost, he said:

… The second factor is that Nintendo’s development resources are focused on developing content for a single platform, Nintendo Switch.

Switch, Lite and Flatlay Games© Nintendo Life

However, the key here is that it seems that many fans once believed that concentrated development resources would result in a denser and more consistent flow of new and distinct games. For example, when reviewing this article published shortly after the Switch’s reveal, many comments refer to an expectation that the Switch would indeed be receiving double The number of games on a typical Nintendo home console. The thought behind this was that all those games that would do existing on a hypothetical handheld device would now occur on the Switch instead, thus completing the release schedule.

Now that we are comfortably in the Switch’s lifespan for a few years, the question is this: Has Nintendo really met those high expectations or were they wrong?

For the purposes of this investigation, we decided to tell every The Nintendo game was part of the Wii U / 3DS era and compare those numbers to what we have now in the Switch era. To keep the list focused, we chose games that Nintendo released. and had a significant level of participation in development. A good example of this would be the Mario and Luigi series, which has always been developed by Alphadream, an outside studio not owned by Nintendo. Another would be Bayonetta 2, which was developed by Platinum Games, but funded and partially supervised by Nintendo.

Still, we haven’t included every game Nintendo released, as many titles were third-party games that were simply promoted by the company in specific regions. Good examples of this would be Yo-Kai Clock series or the Bravely predetermined games, which were published by Nintendo in the West, but would not be considered part of the Nintendo board.

Additionally, release dates were determined the first time a game was released for the first time. Most of the time, the games came out first in Japan, but there were a few laggards who saw a western release first, in which case we recorded that release date.

We pull our numbers out of these curated lists on Wikipedia apparently noticing all the games released for each Nintendo system. And while, yes, a publicly changeable site like Wikipedia certainly has its pitfalls, we challenge you to find a more complete and appropriate list of every game that has been created for a Nintendo platform.

All that said, the numbers are as follows:

3DS games

3DS stack© Nintendo Life
Year Number of 3DS games released by Nintendo
2011 13
2012 fifteen
2013 10
2014 8
2015 twenty-one
2016 sixteen
2017 14
2018 6 6
2019 one
Total: 104

Wii U Games

Wii U© Nintendo
Year Number of Wii U games released by Nintendo
2012 4 4
2013 13
2014 12
2015 10
2016 8
2017 one
Total: 48

Wii U / 3DS games combined

Year Number of Wii U and 3DS games released by Nintendo
2011 13
2012 19
2013 2. 3
2014 twenty
2015 31
2016 24
2017 fifteen
2018 6 6
2019 one
Total: 152

Change games

Year Number of Switch games released by Nintendo
2017 eleven
2018 18 years
2019 19
2020 (so far) 9
Total: 57

So, to analyze this a bit, we will start with the Wii U. During the first four years of its existence and following the criteria that we established, Nintendo was credited with thirty-nine Wii U releases. the Switch has had fifty-seven in that same windowAlthough we will admit that the Wii U only launched in late 2012 and therefore did not get the full year. To account for this, we removed all the Switch games that were released before October 2017 and the result is still coming in forty-nine games for Switch.

On the portable side of things, forty-six games released for first four years of 3DS in the market. U.S could Bring that down to forty-five if we only include games that released until July 2014, but the concession we gave Wii U doesn’t apply here, as 3DS and Switch launched in the first quarter of their respective years. Either way, the Switch again comes out ahead, as fifty-seven Nintendo games have been viewed to date, and that number is likely to rise a bit, as we still have half this year left.

So, from a raw numbers perspective, the Switch has outperformed 3DS and Wii U by comparing Nintendo releases in similar time frames, but that doesn’t give the full picture. We would argue that 3DS and Wii U should be considered togetherAs the two collectively represented the entire ‘Nintendo experience’ for any fan during that time, we now get that same experience through one medium, rather than two.


Now, details on specific development timelines are not public knowledge, making it impossible to know exactly when Nintendo started developing the first Wii U games, and we will never know how that affected the continued development of 3DS, monetarily or in manpower. Still, to make the comparison a little more fair, we decided to draw lines in November 2012, when Wii U launched and Nintendo became a two-console company for that generation, and in July 2015 (the end of our 34 corresponding years) one month period here in 2020). Taking this into account, the Switch loses deeply, since its count of fifty-seven games does not resist the eighty-one collective games that the 3DS and Wii U delivered in the 2012-2015 period that we have defined.

So in a nutshell, Nintendo has no He developed / published as many games on the Switch as he had when 3DS and Wii U were the only compatible hardware.

What do we do with this information? Well, the idea that Nintendo has been producing the same volume of games lies down, as it certainly has not. That twenty-four-game gap between Switch releases and Wii U / 3DS releases is greater than the Nintendo average per year when supported on both older platforms. In other words, we’ve missed out on about a year or two of what-if games that would potentially have been released if Nintendo currently supported two platforms and had stuck to its previous release rate by offering games of the same technological level.

Of course, it’s not just about raw numbers. At the end of the day, all that really matters is how satisfied we are with the Switch library as-is. And while, yes, Nintendo may not offer the games as much as it used to, we also have a substantially higher volume of major third party releases and indies on the Switch to make up for it.

Still, we are curious what you think about this. Do you wish Nintendo still had separate lines of home and portable consoles? Have you been satisfied with your output for the Switch? What do you think of the Switch library so far? Share your thoughts in the comments below.