Nintendo is dominating the video game console market in Japan to a staggering extent. Will the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X shake things up?
The Nintendo Switch sold almost 6 million units in Japan over the course of 2020, accounting for 87% of the console market in the country. This was comprised of 3.9 million sales of the original console, and over 2 million sales of the Nintendo Switch Lite.
By comparison, the PS4 sold 543,000 units during the same time period, while 255,000 units of the PS5 were sold in roughly six weeks after its release in Japan on November 12.
It’s not hard to see the Switch’s appeal over its rivals; the unique console’s removable Joy-Con controllers means that it can be played either on-the-go, or linked to the TV as a home hub. It also has a terrific library of games, including but not limited to all your favourite Nintendo classics such as Mario and Zelda, with more adult titles like Skyrim and Doom also available.
Famitsu/KADOKAWA also reports on yearly game sales, but it was always pretty obvious which one would come out on top in 2020. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold a whopping 6.4 million units, dwarfing the runner-up (Ring Fit adventure on 1.6 million). Incredibly, this figure just includes ‘boxed’ copies (that is, physical media) so digital sales would have boosted this number to a much higher degree.
Will the Nintendo Switch keep its lofty position atop the Japanese games market for the foreseeable future? Well the first full year of PS5 sales might be a serious contender, although it’s unlikely to be troubled by the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, as Microsoft’s consoles traditionally do not sell as well in the homeland of Sony and Nintendo.
The real rival to the Switch is likely to be whatever console Nintendo produces next. But seeing as the current generation has only been around since 2017, we’ll probably have to wait another few years for a full-blooded follow-up.