Nintendo’s High-Stakes Bet on the Switch

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On March 3, Nintendo's newest console will hit stores worldwide, in what will be one of the company's most important hardware launches ever. The Switch, which aims to act as both a mobile and a home console game, comes after Nintendo's belly flop with the Wii U, which has sold a mere 13.5 million units since 2012. Compare that with more than 53 million PlayStation 4s sold by Sony and more than 101 million sales of the original Wii in its heyday.

Early reviews of the Switch are in, and it has been praised for its design.

The heart of the system is essentially a tablet, which slides into a cradle to connect to a TV. The device, along with its small controllers, can be nearly instantly transformed into a portable system that plays the same games as at home.

See more: Every Nintendo Switch Launch Game We Know About So Far

But if the company's bet on the home-to-mobile console doesn't pan out, say game-industry analysts, the Switch could be Nintendo's last major hardware product. IDC's Sam Reynolds thinks a profit-minded board could push the company to transition from hardware toward producing games for other companies' platforms, as Sega did 15 years ago after the failure of the Dreamcast console. For a legendary company traditionally averse to working with outsiders, that would be, well, a tough switch.

A version of this article appears in the March 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “Nintendo Bets Big on the Switch.”

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