The best-selling video game console in the US last month was not any of the new hardware from Microsoft or Sony, but a three-year-old device from Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch and its Lite variant sold 1.35 million units last month, according to data from retail analytics firm The NPD Group.
That marks the 24th straight month that Nintendo’s handheld topped the console hardware chart in the US market. Those figures only add to the good holiday news for Nintendo, which last month reported a 40 percent year-over-year increase in Switch sales, to 6.86 million units in the quarter that ended September 30th.
Now, there are a lot of caveats here. This is the US only, so it’s excluding big markets in Asia and Europe. While Microsoft and Sony have not disclosed concrete sales numbers for their new consoles, both companies have said publicly that their respective launches of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S were the biggest ever launches in console history, indicating that likely millions of devices were sold worldwide. Early retail estimates already put the PS5’s launch sales at more than 2 million units worldwide. But again, that’s worldwide sales, and the PS5 has been nearly impossible to get your hands on since.
The Nintendo Switch happens to be a mature console with a much more efficient supply chain at the moment. That means Nintendo is able to stock them and sell them at a much faster pace. The demand for the Switch also remains strong even three years into the device’s life cycle, thanks in part to the resilience of the platform’s library of excellent first-party games, as well as the Switch’s core appeal as a handheld indie-friendly device not tethered to mainstream gaming trends in either hardware or software.
It also helps that the Switch was itself similarly hard to find in the early days after its February 2017 launch. That fact makes its wider availability now a strong reason why those who’ve held off for years are finally taking the plunge in large numbers.
If either Microsoft or Sony were able to actually manufacture enough Xbox and PlayStation devices to meet demand, it’s possible both companies would have handily surpassed Nintendo in console sales for the month. Neither Microsoft nor Sony immediately responded to requests for comment.
Yet given that the new consoles are severely supply-constrained and will remain that way well into next year, Nintendo’s reign on the console sales throne may continue unrivaled for some time.