Nintendo Switch sales went gangbusters in a pandemic year

a hand holding a baby © Photo: Michael McWhertor/Polygon

Nintendo sold almost 30 million Nintendo Switch consoles in the company’s most recent fiscal year, which ended in March, a 37% increase over the 21 million sold the year before and the sign of another pandemic-gaming windfall boosting a company’s bottom line.

The 28.83 million Switches sold for Nintendo’s fiscal year beat a sales forecast that was already raised two times since the beginning of 2021. In its lifetime, the Nintendo Switch has now sold 84.59 million units worldwide. By comparison, the Wii sold 101.63 million units over its 13-year lifespan.

In the most recent January-to-March quarter, Nintendo sold 4.72 million Switches; it’s typically the slowest quarter for the company since it follows the holiday season, but it was still stronger than the 3.28 million Switches the company sold in the same period for 2020.

Game sales saw a similar percentage increase — also 37 percent, to be precise, or 230.88 million units for fiscal year 2021, up from 168.72 million units for the fiscal year preceding it. It’s no surprise that Animal Crossing: New Horizons led the charge with 20.85 million copies sold. It actually launched in the last month of the preceding fiscal year, and has sold 32.63 million copies lifetime, good for second place overall, 2.76 million behind platform leader Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which launched a month after the console’s debut.

The strong financial report means Nintendo now faces some very tough quarterly comparisons for the coming fiscal year. Nintendo has already cautioned investors that it expects a 9% drop on revenue, and 20% drop in earnings, for the fiscal year ending in March 2022, compared to the one that just ended this March. If that earnings forecast sounds dire, consider that the company’s fiscal year 2021 earnings were up 80% over 2020’s.

Looking ahead, Nintendo has a new Nintendo Switch Lite color hitting shelves this month, the fifth since that smaller, portable-only form of the console debuted in the fall of 2019. And although the company has not formally announced the product, a report in March said Nintendo is already manufacturing an upgraded Switch that will support 4K ultra-high definition resolutions when docked with a TV, and has a larger, 7-inch, 720p OLED screen on the handheld unit.

Nintendo Switch sales went gangbusters in a pandemic year