Why Nintendo Switch sales figures make interesting reading for Sony and Microsoft

In a recent financial call, Nintendo has announced that it’s sold nearly five million Nintendo Switch consoles since the hardware went on sale at the beginning of March. 

For Nintendo this is obviously great news. The Wii U only sold around 13.5 million units over the course of its lifetime, and it took almost a year to reach the 5 million point mark. In contrast, the Switch is expected to sell double that in its first year. 

But what’s even more interesting is how sales of the Switch compare to the Xbox One and PS4

A three horse race

In its first year the Xbox One sold around the same amount that the Nintendo Switch is projected to sell, while the PS4 sold around 7 million units in its first 5 months on sale before eventually selling around 14 million in its first year on sale. 

It’s not surprising that the Nintendo Switch isn’t set to outsell the PS4, which has garnered a level of third-party support that has traditionally been absent from Nintendo’s consoles. 

But what’s more interesting is to see how the console is comparing against the Xbox One. Traditionally Sony and Microsoft have traded blows more or less equally in the console space. Their consoles are similarly powered, and they share a lot of the same games, so the playing field is relatively level. 

Nintendo meanwhile has tended to either significantly underperform or outperform them. The motion-gimmick led Wii sold far more consoles than the competition from both Microsoft and Sony, while the Wii U sold much less. It's running its own race. 

The Nintendo Switch meanwhile, looks to be on an equal sales footing with the Xbox One. It’s still a much less powerful machine, but increasingly it’s garnering the same kind of support from developers that its competitors have traditionally enjoyed. 

We’re obviously not at a point yet where the yearly Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed games make their way to a Nintendo console in an equal form, but these sales figures indicate that the sales race is turning from a two into a three horse race.