The Nintendo Switch was released in March 2017 at a time when the PlayStation 4 dominated the U.S.’s monthly hardware sales charts. It took about a year and a half for the former to eventually take over. Nintendo’s hybrid console claimed the top spot in November 2018 and clung to it until last month, September 2021.
According to Mat Piscatella, the executive director of games for analytics and data firm NPD, the PlayStation 5 was able to surpass the Switch in both dollar and unit sales last month, thereby ending the latter’s 33-month reign of selling the most units in the U.S. Overall, Nintendo still leads in unit sales for the year... but that’s also because the PS5 remains hard to obtain for many people.
Supply chain woes — As Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat points out, the real issue for next-gen console sales has been supply limitations, a factor that has also affected GPUs and other gaming-related products. Both Sony and Microsoft have basically been selling every console they manage to produce.
But it is worth noting that the PS5’s rise to the top of hardware sales charts is the first time Sony (or even Microsoft for that matter) has seen its next-gen console outsell the Switch in terms of units. This development suggests that once Sony can get a handle on production — which involves some factors outside of its control — the PS5 could be poised to be the next king of the charts. To think that PS5s would become widely available is still new territory given the fact that even a voice actor for Deathloop needed insider help to secure his own.
It was a good run — To think that a Nintendo product wore the crown for the highest-selling console in the U.S. for close to three years is pretty astounding. That role has historically been reserved for Sony, and the Switch managed to do so even after both the PS5 and Xbox Series X were released.
We will see how console sales shake out over the next few years, but the race for the top spot might still be up in the air on a month-to-month basis. If graphic card production continues to suffer from shortages, Sony and Microsoft's flagship consoles will be a the mercy of much larger supply chain issues. And while the Switch’s 33-month run might not be matched, the Switch OLED could see Nintendo climbing the charts again... or maybe not, because it’s simply not as revolutionary as the original Switch.