2020 was not a year to be celebrated in most respects, but it sure was good to Nintendo. Even before the holiday shopping rush, Nintendo Switch hardware sales had swelled to more than 68 million worldwide through September. A year prior, that figure stood at a little over 41 million units, meaning that Nintendo sold through another almost 27 million Switch consoles during that time – a 64% increase overall. The Switch has been outselling both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 every single month for the past two years, according to US sales tracker The NPD Group.
While there’s been incredible interest in the next-gen systems, PS5 and Xbox Series X, many insiders believe that Nintendo’s 2020 momentum will keep the Switch at the top of the sales charts for some time. Interestingly, a driving factor at this stage of the Switch’s lifecycle may be adoption among new or previously lapsed console gamers. Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that in 2019 only 12% of Switch owners had no other console in their household, but in 2020 that figure more than doubled to 25% of Switch owners.
We can infer from this that Nintendo has been expanding the overall console pie (much as it did with the original Wii) as new console gamers enter the marketplace. In fact, there’s a likelihood that consumers age 45 and up (many of whom grew up on the original NES) drove a good portion of spending on Switch – Nintendo has cited parents as a sales factor, too. The 45-65 age group emerged in 2020 as a key demographic, spending 15% more on games than in 2019.
At just $200, the newer Switch Lite no doubt helped drive sales, as did casual friendly software like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. While rumors of a more powerful “Switch Pro” continue to swirl, the Switch isn’t going anywhere. Nintendo management continues to believe that their hybrid console “occupies a fundamentally different position, and really has a unique proposition for shoppers and players.” It’s hard to argue with the results.