Nintendo’s latest financial results confirm a milestone for Nintendo Switch sales, something we knew would happen, but is still a significant achievement. With over 122 million sales in its lifetime, the hybrid handheld is the third-best-selling game console of all time, ahead of the PlayStation 4 (117 million) and Nintendo’s own Game Boy (118 million).
More than 155 million PlayStation 2 units have been sold, followed by 154 million Nintendo DS units. Switch still has a chance to win the all-time crown with its projected 18 million sales this fiscal year — a number the company says has been constrained by semiconductor shortages — and with at least one or two years until Nintendo introduces a successor. This is a remarkable turnaround from Nintendo’s previous hardware generation, when Wii U sold 13 million units (versus Wii’s 101 million) and 3DS sold half as many units as Wii.
While Switch hardware sales have slowed, there’s still a question mark regarding how many major first-party games remain to drive them. As for Nintendo’s slate after The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in May, Pikmin 4 is due later this year, Metroid Prime 4 is undated, and that’s about it. It is likely that Nintendo is considering whether to hold back its unannounced projects, and maybe even Prime 4, for its next console.
As of now, Switch software sales remain strong. During their first six weeks on sale, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet shifted an astounding 20 million copies, making them the fourth-best-selling Pokémon games ever. In addition to Splatoon 3, another recent release, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sold 52 million copies on the Switch, placing it in a very exclusive club with Tetris, Wii Sports, Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto 5. It has surpassed the 50 million mark with an astounding 52 million copies sold.
The Switch’s all-time top 10 now looks like this:
- 52 million copies sold of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- (41.59 million) Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Super Smash Bros. 30.44 million copies of Ultimate
- Breath of the Wild: The Legend of Zelda (29 million)
- (25.68 million) Pokémon Sword and Shield
- (25.12 million) Super Mario Odyssey
- The Pokémon Sword and Shield (20.61 million copies)
- The Super Mario Party (18.79 million copies)
- 1522 million for Ring Fit Adventure
- Pikachu: Let’s Go! and Eevee! (15.07 million)
Switch has sold 994 million games, more than any other Nintendo console (probably due to its thriving digital marketplace).
When Switch launched six years ago, few predicted the platform—based on hardware that was quite outdated—could achieve this level of success. Despite this, Nintendo’s pitch of combining home and handheld gaming in one device and its in-house software won the day. Nintendo must decide whether to simply upgrade the Switch concept for a new hardware generation or to try something new. It may seem obvious, but Nintendo is a restless innovator, and many of its biggest successes—including the Game Boy, the Wii, and the Switch itself—were unexpected. Is it going to surprise us again?