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Nintendo Switch sold more than every other console combined in 2020 in the UK

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Nintendo Switch handheld mode
At least someone had a a good year (pic: Nintendo)

A rare glimpse into how well consoles have sold in the UK reveals that 2020 was a very good year for the Nintendo Switch.

It’s always been frustrating that nowhere in Europe has ever released regular sales figures for either consoles or video games, so for most of the time there’s no concrete information on how anything is selling.

That information does exist, it’s just not made public, and journalist Christopher Dring, who works for industry website GamesIndustry.biz, has given a rare insight into just how well the Switch sold in the UK last year.

He didn’t reveal any numbers but did state that the Switch sold more than all the other consoles combined, i.e. it accounted for more than half of all console sales in the UK last year.

Although that seems surprising on the face of it, it’s not so shocking when you realise that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 where in their last year as the primary consoles of Microsoft and Sony and there wasn’t enough stock of the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 to make any major difference.

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There’s also the fact that the Nintendo Switch was cheaper than many of the alternatives, at a time when many were looking for new home entertainment options during lockdown – something which Animal Crossing: New Horizons was also able to take advantage.

Although that in turn led to significant hardware shortages, especially of the original hybrid model, and means that the Switch could easily have sold much more in 2020 if the stock had been available.

After being accosted by fanboys on Twitter, Dring indicated that the other consoles ‘also sold very well last year’ in the UK, suggesting that while the Switch took the lion’s share of sales it wasn’t because the other consoles were selling poorly.

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Figures for the US stopped being released publicly a few years ago, but the situation is likely to be similar there. Although it is surprising to see a Nintendo format do so well in the UK, which has traditionally always been one of Nintendo’s weakest international markets.

As you might imagine, things are very different in Japan, which also happens to be the only major market that releases weekly hardware sales figures.

Last week – one of the busiest retail weeks in Japan – the Nintendo Switch sold 312,121 consoles compared to just 17,876 for the PlayStation 4; 10,632 for the PlayStation 5; and 98 for the Xbox Series X (and no, we haven’t missed off any digits there).

Clearly the Japanese market is very different from the West, so knowing that almost exactly 6 million Switch consoles were sold there in 2020 doesn’t offer much insight on anywhere else.

The last official hardware sales figures, from September 2020, showed that the Switch has sold 68.30 million units worldwide, of which 26.6 million were in North and South America, 17.7 million in Europe, 16.1 million in Japan, and 7.8 million in the rest of the world.

The lifetime-to-date figure compares to an estimated 50 million for the Xbox One and around 114 million for the PlayStation 5 – both of which had a more than three year head start on the Switch.

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