Women are driving Nintendo Switch’s continued momentum, Interpret data finds

Despite quite successful next-gen launches from Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo’s Switch console shows no signs of slowing down. According to Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser, the Switch’s success (still the top-selling console in the US in May per NPD) has a lot to do with the platform’s ability to appeal to an ever-broadening audience. Whereas Nintendo’s Wii went broad from the start and then attempted to attract more serious gamers, the Switch seems to be doing the reverse.

Bowser talked about changing demographics for the Switch with The Verge, and data from Interpret’s New Media Measure® squares with Nintendo’s internal findings. In the US, from early 2020 to late 2020, the percentage of women playing on either Switch or Switch Lite jumped from 6.5% to 13.2% whereas among men, the increase was slight (14.6% to 15.9%). From a gender perspective, this means that the Switch audience is approaching parity. A huge part of this gender balancing has come from women aged 25-34, who have more than doubled their playership on Switch from 9.4% to 20.4% in the US.  

The surge of interest isn’t just about gender, however. Bowser also alluded to rising numbers from “casuals.” At Interpret, when we examine what we call “light gamers” (people who play 1-5 hours a week), the numbers show that interest has grown by 36% during 2020, with 15% of the Switch audience falling into this category. Bowser commented, “We’ve seen video games really grow in terms of the number of people playing, and the amount of time that they’re playing overall.”

Whether or not Nintendo ever announces a higher fidelity “Switch Pro” console, the future looks incredibly bright for the company. Video games are no longer a zero-sum business, and as the pie has grown, so too have the opportunities for publishers and all three console platform holders. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo can all succeed without it being at the expense of each other. The only “console wars” that still rage today are in fanboys’ heads.