Switch To Success: 20 Years Of Nintendo Console Sales

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20 years of nintendo console sales and nintendo switch sales

How the Nintendo Switch Brought Console Sales Back

Since its 2017 release, the Nintendo Switch has become a household game console for gamers and non-gamers alike.

Few consoles penetrate the mainstream deeply enough to have parents referring to a console by its proper name, instead of their children’s “Gameboy” or “Wii”. Even fewer come together as a complete package that ties together the ideologies and technical ideas of their preceding consoles like the Nintendo Switch has.

This graphic visualizes the Nintendo Switch sales success story alongside more than 20 years of Nintendo console sales.

The History of Nintendo Console Sales

Nintendo has a long and storied history in gaming—but since the release of the original Game Boy in 1989, the company has favored a two-pronged approach with its game consoles: having both a portable handheld console and a home console which connects to a TV on the market.

The Game Boy and the SNES (1990) were the first iteration of this strategy, and they reached more than 160 million units sold combined while establishing legendary game franchises with revered sequels like Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

The Game Boy’s variants like the Game Boy Pocket (1996) and Game Boy Color (1998) lengthened the handheld’s lifespan enough to accompany another home console, with the Nintendo 64 coming out in 1996 and selling 32.93 million units of its own.

These successes proved that the gaming audience would support two separate Nintendo consoles on the market, and Nintendo kept the strategy going the following generations.

Lifetime Nintendo Console Sales

Console Release Year Units Sold
(as of Sept 30, 2020)
NES 1983 61.91 M
Game Boy 1989 118.69 M
SNES 1990 49.1 M
Nintendo 64 1996 32.93 M
Game Boy Advance 2001 81.51 M
Nintendo GameCube 2001 21.74 M
Nintendo DS 2004 154.02 M
Nintendo Wii 2006 101.63 M
Nintendo 3DS 2011 75.94 M
Wii U 2012 13.56 M
Nintendo Switch 2017 68.3 M
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