Switch has its peak year – for hardware and software – but Nintendo continues to dominate its own platform

Nintendo updated the lifetime sales of Switch units and software today, as part of its full annual results for its FY20 ending on the 31st of March – just as the world was coming under lockdown.  Alongside a range of other useful numbers from the company on the strength of the platform. But only nine non-Nintendo titles have broken 1m software unit sales to date.

HARDWARE

The headline figure is undoubtedly the 55.7m Switch units sold to date. The year saw 21.03m units sold, up by 24 per cent year-on-year. This can largely be attributed to the launch of the Switch Lite, adding 6m units to the FY20 total, at a cost of just 2.1m ‘full’ Switch sales dropped year-on-year.

It’s worth remembering that Switch proper has impressively continued to hold a high retail price since launch – a key advantage of the hybrid device having no direct competition. Current stock shortages have seen Switch consoles sell at the full retail price (or more even) that it was launched at.

Nintendo results FY20

SOFTWARE

Speaking of having little competition, Nintendo also posted that it had sold 356.24m units of Switch software to date. That’s fast approaching the total of the mighty 3DS platform, though still a long way behind the Wii at 924m. Software sales for FY20 were up a huge 42.3 per cent to 168.7m units. 

However, it’s worth noting that of the 27 titles that have broken through the million-seller mark on the platform to date, 18m of those were made by Nintendo itself, leaving only nine titles (unnamed) spread around every other publisher globally. 

Nintendo’s combination of its home and portable devices in Switch has let it focus all its development firepower on a single platform. This has meant more regular releases of first-party games, but has left relatively  little for third-party publishers, who have instead concentrated on lower-cost titles via the eShop. Yes, it’s an age-old Nintendo platform issue, but it’s still worth pointing out. 

The best performers were Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield with 17.37m units, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which sold 11.77m units in just its first ten days.

Digtial sales on the platform grew hugely, by 71.8 per cent, with the proportion of digital sales rising 9.2 per cent to 34 per cent. 

Nintendo results digital FY20

PEAK SWITCH

Nintendo believes that FY2020 is peak Switch, though, with forecasts for next year showing the beginning of the decline for the platform. Likely due to competitive pressures from new next-gen consoles, as well as a thinner launch line-up for this Christmas, and the unpredictability of COVID-19 (although that looks to have been a boon to date). 

Nintendo predicts hardware sales for next year will be down by 9.6 per cent to 19m units, and software will fall 17 per cent to 140m. Hardly figures to be sniffed at, though. 

On Covid-19 it noted cautiously: “It appears that delays in production and shipping are gradually recovering. However, we may be affected if there continue to be issues involving the procurement of necessary components. In addition, if the impact of COVID-19 is prolonged or worsens further, it may disrupt the product supply.”

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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