Even though 2020 marked the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, which got all the headlines both in the run-up to release and at launch before the holiday, the actual victor of the year was none other than the Nintendo Switch, which quietly had not only its most astonishing year to date, but one of the best in all of video game history.
There are a few different eye-popping stats that are coming out through end of year round-ups right now. The latest NPD numbers come with the additional note that the Nintendo Switch had the highest dollar sales in the US of any console in history other than the original Wii in 2008.
Past that, 6 million Switches were sold in Japan last year, a 30% rise over the year before, which accounts for 87% of all consoles sold in that country.
If there is one game leading the charge on all of this, it’s no doubt Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which sold phenomenally well around the globe and was easily the biggest hit of the year for the Switch during a year which was record setting in all these different ways. Other big sellers include Pokémon Sword and Shield, Ring Fit Adventure, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Minecraft and Smash Bros, but Animal Crossing is head and shoulders above the rest.
Obviously, we must mention the pandemic, which has increased video game spending all across the board, but nothing benefitted more than the Switch, it seems, even though a main draw of the unit is being a portable console you can take on the go.
Even though no one was “going” much of anywhere, it’s easy to see how the Switch would be a good pick for families and partners and roommates and such all locked in together, forced to share a limited amount of screens, and desperate for things to do. In that sense, a Switch you can port all around the house and not needing it to be tied to one TV seems like a better option than a PlayStation or Xbox.
Heading into 2021, at least in the US the pandemic continues to rage, even as the rollout of vaccines begin, keeping everyone at home much of the time for the indefinite future. So sales may continue to be pretty high, and we are heading toward what appears to be an inevitable announcement of a “Switch Pro,” an upgraded version of the current model, though a lack of power has not stopped massive sales of the current unit. The Switch is effectively two generations behind the new PS5 and Series X in terms of power, as it was already less powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One before them, but it simply doesn’t matter between the portability of the console and the quality of its games. Also helping its high dollar sales is the fact that Nintendo has effectively never had to reduce the price of the consoles since launch, with demand so constantly high.
Expect another great year for the Switch in 2021, and we’ll have to see about a hardware upgrade soon enough.