It’s been a good two years for the Nintendo Switch. According to Nintendo, the gaming tablet has been the bestselling console in the US for 23 straight months. And according to data from the NPD Group, it just had its best October ever, moving 735,926 units of both the Switch and Switch Lite in the US. The company says that represents a 136 percent increase compared to last year. To date, the Switch has sold 22.5 million units in the US, and last week Nintendo revealed that more than 68 million units have been sold globally. “We’re excited about our momentum,” says Nick Chavez, Nintendo of America’s SVP of sales and marketing.
Chavez puts the company’s big October down to two main factors. One is a better supply of stock; this year in particular, it’s often been hard to find a Switch on store shelves. This has only been exacerbated by increased demand due to a combination of the pandemic and the breakout success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. “Certainly the covid pandemic has created more opportunities to stay at home, more play time at home,” he tells The Verge. “We’ve seen unprecedented demand for Nintendo Switch throughout the course of the year.”
The second reason is the Animal Crossing-themed Switch that was introduced early this year. “That came back into the marketplace around October 4th, and many people were excited to get their hands on that as quickly as possible,” says Chavez. “And we’re going to continue to have that in ample supply throughout this holiday and into 2021.”
As with last year, Nintendo says that a large part of its growth comes from continued adoption by women and families. “This year a lot of our growth has been driven by an influx of women playing Nintendo Switch, more kids and teenagers playing Nintendo Switch, as well as parents,” says Chavez. In terms of what hardware people are buying, he adds that “we are still seeing a strong preference for the flagship system at $299.”
The timing of the announcement is particularly interesting as this week also saw the launch of both the PlayStation 5 and two new Xbox consoles from Microsoft. Going into the ever-important holiday season, there will naturally be increased competition, which could bring Nintendo’s 23-month streak to a stop. Nintendo has a few big releases to buoy its holiday — including Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit and the upcoming Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity — but the company also believes it’s not necessarily in direct competition with Sony and Microsoft.
“It’s always exciting when new consoles enter the video game marketplace. It’s great to see the PS5 and the Xbox Series S and X coming into the marketplace,” says Chavez. “But we do think that the Nintendo Switch occupies a fundamentally different position, and really has a unique proposition for shoppers and players.”