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News video games 16 January 2021, 23:14

author: Jacob Blazewicz

Scope of Nintendo's Success in Japan and US is Staggering

2020 proved to be an excellent year for the gaming industry. The biggest success was recorded by Nintendo, especially in the hardware segment. Switch sales were record-breaking in both the US and Japan, and in the latter country the platform accounted for 87% of all console sales.

  • Reports from Japan and the US confirm the excellent health of the games market;
  • In the US, Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War gave the series the top spot on the list of highest-grossing productions for the twelfth year in a row;
  • Nintendo did outstandingly well in both countries, mainly thanks to Animal Crossing: New Horizon and Switch;
  • In Japan, the Switch accounted for 87% of all sold consoles, and in the U.S., the Switch's annual sales topped all other platforms in history (except for the Nintendo Wii).

It would seem that no one should want to think back to 2020, which has mostly gifted us with various presents from the coronavirus. But apparently this does not apply to the gaming market, which has had a very profitable 12 months. It has been particularly successful for Nintendo's consoles. If the company's financial reports and subsequent reports of analysts aren't enough for you, the success of the Switch (and the entire industry) was also confirmed by reports from Famitsu magazine (via and the NPD group (via Mat Piscatella on Twitter).

In Japan, the video game market recorded an increase of 12.5% (to 3.5 billion yen), which was mainly thanks to hardware. And in this category, the Switch proved unrivaled. We already wrote about how Switch bested PlayStation 5 (among other things due to the unavailability of Sony's platform), some time ago, but that's not all. Of the nearly 7 million consoles purchased in 2020, as many as 6 million (87%) were different variants of Nintendo Switch. For comparison: at the same time the sales of PlayStation 4 did not exceed 543 thousand copies.

No one will also be surprised that among the most popular games were mainly items published by Nintendo, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons taking the undisputed lead. Since its release in March, the latest installment of the charming life simulator series has found 6.4 million buyers in Japan, well ahead of second-place winner Ring Fit Adventure (1.6 million copies), not to mention other games, most of which have not sold even one million copies.

Nintendo also took the lead in North America, although not as much as in Japan. In the US, spending on games totaled $56.9 billion, a 27% increase year-on-year. Most of that (86%) came from software, both digital and boxed. In this category ,Call of Duty once again did not give the competition a chance, taking the first (and second) position on the list of best-selling games for a record twelfth year in a row. CoD: Black Ops - Cold War also reigned supreme in December, overtaking Cyberpunk 2077 (although NPD analysts did not include data from digital sales) and Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. It's also fair to mention The Last of Us: Part II, which became Sony's third best-selling release in the US, just behind Spider-Man and God of War.

Scope of Nintendos Success in Japan and US is Staggering - picture #1
2020 or not, Call of Duty reigns supreme in the gaming market.

However, while Nintendo didn't conquer the West like it did Japan, the company by no means has anything to be ashamed of. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the third best-selling game of 2020, and Nintendo's biggest best-seller in the US since Wii Fit Plus (in 2010). Meanwhile, the Switch was the main reason why spending in the hardware segment rose as much as 35% year-over-year (to $5.3 billion, the highest since 2011). The console also scored the second best year in console history, well ahead of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 and second only to the 2008 result of Nintendo Wii (in terms of sales in dollars).

Scope of Nintendos Success in Japan and US is Staggering - picture #2
Fox's top 20 bestsellers of 2020 in the U.S. gaming market. (Source: NPD Group).

One could argue that Nintendo's success is in part due to shortages of 9th-gen consoles, and that their announced debut discouraged many buyers from purchasing PS4 and XONE. However, this does not change the fact that 2020 belonged to the "big N", which did not give much chance to the competition. Will this trend continue, or will the increasing availability of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S push Switch to the sidelines? Time will tell.

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