Let’s say a global pandemic forces you to spend almost all of your time inside at home. Sure, this means you have a chance to catch up on Netflix and reading. But you’re probably going to want to mix up your media consumption, so maybe it’s time to check in on those video games. I’ve heard that they’ve come a long way since Pac-Man. Well, if you want to do that on your TV, you’re going to want a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch. And coincidentally, sales for all three of those devices were up year-over-year in March, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.
“Hardware spending in March 2020 grew 63% when compared to a year ago, to $461 million,” said NPD anslyst Mat Piscatella. “Nintendo Switch hardware sales more than doubled when compared to a year ago, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One each grew by more than 25 percent. First quarter hardware spending increased by 2 percent, to $773 million.”
These are not the kind of numbers you would expect from a typical March in the United States. PS4 and Xbox One have seen steady year-over-year declines in unit and dollar sales for a lot of the last year. Sure, March saw the release of Resident Evil 3, Doom Eternal, and Persona 5: Royal. But those games all appeal to audiences that likely already have hardware.
For PS4 and Xbox One each to see a 25% jump in hardware sales, new customers flooded into the gaming market. And now is a good time because the outgoing consoles are affordable and have gigantic libraries of cheap games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons turned Switch into a sales behemoth
But while Sony and Microsoft got a welcome surprise in March, Nintendo stumbled into a desert with a cooler full of popsicles.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched March 20, and it has already outsold the lifetime sales of each previous Animal Crossing game. It is a blockbuster smash hit. And when software does well, hardware is bound to follow.
“Nintendo Switch set a new all-time record for hardware unit sales in a March month,” said Piscatella. “[That bests] the previous high set by Nintendo Switch in its March 2017 launch month.”
And the Switch’s overall sales trend is up there with some of the top-selling gaming devices of all time.
“Nintendo Switch generated the highest first quarter unit sales for any hardware platform since the Nintendo DS in the first quarter of 2010,” said Piscatella.
And these sales should continue. Switch supply has dried up across most regions worldwide, and Nintendo is working to replenish stock as fast as it can. But it seems likely that people are going to buy every new Switch that Nintendo delivers through the end of this month.