Nintendo Switch overtakes 1990s SNES console in sales

Nintendo Switch and SNES
Image caption Nintendo Switch (l) and SNES (r)

The Nintendo Switch has become the company’s third best-selling home console, overtaking the old Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

In total, more than 52 million Switch consoles have been sold since the device was launched in 2017.

The SNES was introduced in 1990 in Japan and went on to sell 49 million units worldwide.

However, the company has warned the console’s production has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak in China.

A Pokemon video game tournament in Hong Kong has already been cancelled following concerns about the spread of the virus.

The launch of the Nintendo Switch was a critical moment in Nintendo’s history, following disappointing sales of its predecessor the Wii U.

But it proved popular with gamers, overtaking sales of the Wii U after only 10 months on sale.

Best-selling Nintendo Switch games

Image copyright Nintendo
Image caption The latest Pokemon games feature super-sized creatures
  1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – 23 million copies
  2. Super Smash Bros Ultimate – 17.7 million
  3. Super Mario Odyssey – 16.6 million
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 16.3 million
  5. Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield – 16 million

Source: Nintendo

Some analysts suggest Nintendo may have sold as many Switch consoles as Microsoft has sold Xbox One devices, although Microsoft no longer reports its sales figures.

Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst for the IHS Markit consultancy, said it was likely that Switch console sales would overtake Xbox One in the first nine months of 2020.

Nintendo sold almost 11 million Switch consoles in the run-up to Christmas.

Of those, about five million were the new lower-cost Switch Lite, which cannot be connected to a television.

Nintendo also launched the Switch console in China in December 2019, although many of the company’s most popular games are not yet available there.

Mr Harding-Rolls said he expected Switch sales in 2020 to further improve on this “with a full year of Switch Lite in the market”.

“Digital revenue (game downloads, in-game content and subscriptions) is up and amounted to around $1.5 billion (£1.15bn) for the whole of 2019. That is up by over 50% from 2018 and illustrates both a market trend with a shift to digital consumption and also the rapid evolution of this part of Nintendo’s business,” said Mr Harding-Rolls.

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