Analysis: Nintendo Switch launch line-up smallest in 21 years

Chris Stead 28 February 2017

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Nintendo is ramping up the hype for the Switch, but historically it has the weakest lineup seen in decades.

Finder.com.au has analysed the launch line-ups for every major console and handheld released in the last 23 years; here is what we discovered.

We’re just days away from the release of the Nintendo Switch console on March 3, the company’s follow-up to the Wii U and something of an innovation in home entertainment. The device can “switch” between home console and handheld modes without fuss, allowing you take your experience from a TV onto the road, on demand. We’ve “switched” it in and out a few times - it’s robustly built and works a treat. You can read our full write-up here.

While the system itself is intriguing enough to warrant a look from gamers, families and lapsed Wii owners, the launch line-up wasn’t what many expected. Just the 12 games will be on offer - here is the full list of 100 announced Switch games - and when you break them down and look at what they are, it doesn’t feel like an awfully strong start. Out of the list of currently revealed launch titles, they can be classified as follows:

  • Three Nintendo Games
  • Four Nintendo Switch Exclusives
  • Five Brand New Games
  • Four Third-Party Games
  • Five Indie Games
  • Five Retail Games
  • Seven Downloadable Games
  • Seven Previously Released Games

The more notable of the points above is just the Four brand new games, of which only three are exclusive to the platform. Although The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is only elsewhere available on the Wii U, it could still hold back Wii U owners from making the switch to Switch. If you were holding out on buying a Wii U in hopes of scoring a bargain Zelda console, you've probably left it too late.

So how does the launch line-up compare with previous consoles?

There’s no doubt that the Switch launch line-up is considerably smaller than what we have come to expect over the last few decades from new console launches. In fact, on average, since the launch of the Sega Saturn in 1993, consoles and handhelds have had 17 games available at launch, with nine of them exclusive to the console or handheld at that time.

Some of these exclusive games would go on to end up on other consoles in the future. However, that was not the case when these consoles were shiny and new.

Below you will find a table with a breakdown of the launch line-ups for all the consoles since the launch of the PlayStation in 1996. For the sake of consistency, we’ve set it against the US launch lists for these consoles and handhelds, rather than Australian availability. In Australia we have often had delayed console launches and therefore more games to enjoy.

We also have not counted remakes not available on any other format as an exclusive. Only games that have yet to be released previously on any console or handheld have counted.

ConsoleRetail GamesDownloadable GamesTotal Games% of Launch Games in RetailConsole Exclusive at Launch% of Launch Titles Exclusive to Format
Switch571242%325%
PS415112658%935%
XBO1832186%943%
Wii U2863482%1750%
PS31421688%744%
X36018102864%1243%
Wii21021100%1257%
PS227027100%1659%
Xbox20020100%1260%
GameCube12012100%433%
Dreamcast19019100%1789%
Atari Jaguar202100%2100%
N64202100%2100%
PSOne10010100%660%
Sega Saturn606100%583%
Vita2162778%1556%
3DS16016100%1169%
PSP16016100%1063%
DS606100%233%
GBA16016100%850%

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