Nintendo Fiscal Year: Switch Falls Short, Digital Sales Rise to $1 Billion

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Nintendo’s 2018 fiscal year ended on March 31, 2019. The company recently revealed its sales numbers for hardware and software sales throughout the year. Despite surging popularity and praise, their flagship console, the Switch, fell a bit short of their sales goals. Digital software sales, on the other hand, surged ahead to record-breaking numbers.

Read the full Nintendo 2018 financial statement.

For the fiscal year of 2018 (March 31, 2018 to March 31, 2019) the Switch sold 16.95 million units. That’s short of Nintendo’s original bullish forecast of 20 million units sold, and still short of the revised goal of 17 million units. That puts total lifetime sales of the Nintendo Switch at 34.74 million units, surpassing the Nintendo 64 and approaching the estimated units sold for the Xbox One (Microsoft no longer publishes hardware sales numbers).

In other Nintendo hardware news, the Nintendo 3DS continues its sharp but expected decline. Sales fell to just 2.55 million units, a 60% decrease over last year for the eight year old handheld. Software sales for the 3DS also fell 63% as Nintendo has all but softly phased out the handheld in favor of its console-handheld hybrid.


Digital sales through the Nintendo eShop on the Switch saw a huge amount of growth, however. Digital sales revenue rose by a whopping 95% compared to last year, resulting in the Japanese company reaching just over $1 billion in digital sales for the first time in company history.

Top software sales for the 2018 fiscal year were Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (13.81 million units sold) and Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! (10.63 million units sold).

Finally, here’s Nintendo’s forecast for the 2019 fiscal year:

Nintendo Switch has continued to spread quickly around the world since launch, providing a foundation for further business growth. In order to maintain this momentum, we will release Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit in April, Super Mario Maker 2 in June, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses in July, all worldwide. In addition, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, Animal Crossing (temp.) and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening are slated for release in 2019. Furthermore, major titles from other software publishers are scheduled to be released. We aim to contribute to momentum of the platform by continuously introducing attractive new titles in addition to popular titles already released.

Nintendo continues to enjoy hefty operating profits with the Switch’s success in both hardware and software. Nintendo has forecasted another 18 million units sold for the Switch in 2019.


Nintendo Switch is the Fastest-Selling Modern Console in the U.S.

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Nintendo proudly shared some of its sales numbers today, declaring the Switch the fastest-selling console of this hardware generation (which includes the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U).

The NPD Group tracks sales in the U.S., and these new numbers compare each console in its first 21 months of sales. From its launch in March 2017 through November 2018, the Switch has sold over 8.7 million units in the U.S.

“We are thrilled to see such a strong reaction from consumers in the second holiday season for Nintendo Switch,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior VP. “We’re looking forward to delivering more excitement and smiles to our fans in the coming year and beyond.”

The NPD data also notes that Nintendo is the top-selling software publisher in the U.S. in 2018 – and that doesn’t even include Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which released earlier this month. In fact, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has already become both the fastest-selling Switch game and the fastest-selling Smash Bros. game of all time, as U.S. sales crest three million units after just 11 days.

Other best-sellers include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (4 million sold), Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (5 million sold), Super Mario Odyssey (4.7 million sold), and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee (2 million combined sold).

The Nintendo eShop has also found success with a large variety of indie games and AAA titles, with sales growing over 100 percent since last year.

Nintendo’s hardware and dollar sales are at their highest point since the explosive boom of the Wii back in 2011.

News of the Switch’s runaway success isn’t surprising. Nintendo had previously declared, as of January 2018, the Switch as the fastest-selling console in U.S. history, and last month the best-selling Nintendo console in history after dominating Black Friday sales.

If you’re one of those 8.7 million with a Switch, be sure to check out our Switch Holiday Gift Guide!

nintendo switch

The Switch Has Already Sold Twice as Many Units as the Wii U

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It’s well known to industry insiders that the Wii U was a financial failure, selling about 13 million units over its relatively brief four year lifespan. It’s also known that the Switch has been a big success. Thanks to the latest financial report from Nintendo, we know exactly how much of a success.

Since its launch in March 2017, the Nintendo Switch has sold over 22 million units. That’s nearly twice as many consoles sold over the last year and half, versus four years of the Wii U.

Much of those sales figures (~17 million) are from last year. Huge games like Super Mario Odyssey and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild helped the Switch fly off shelves. Nintendo also found success re-releasing updated versions of Wii U games, like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8, introducing these games to a wider audience.

Switch software sales have grown to 42 million units, including nine games that have sold at least a million copies.

Sales have slowed greatly for the financial year of 2018, however, with the Switch only selling around five million units. The biggest first party releases were Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Mario Tennis Aces. Nintendo also launched the unique Nintendo Labo line of cardboard toys that work with the Switch and Joy-Con controllers.

Despite the slow start in the first half of the year, Nintendo is confident the Switch will reach 20 million units sold for the 2018 financial year (up from 17 million last year). Nintendo has saved all of its big 2018 releases for the last few months of the calendar year, notably Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Dec. 7), and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Let’s Go, Pikachu! (Nov. 16). Nintendo’s financial year runs through March 2019.

In related Nintendo earnings news, the eight year old 3DS has slowed down considerably, with sales dropping by 65% to a million units sold. By comparison, the NES and SNES Classic Editions sold far more copies, with combined sales of 3.69 units.


How GTA 5 Became a Top-Selling Game

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There’s a good chance you’ve heard about a little game called Grand Theft Auto 5.  After all, the game has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, not accounting for digital sales. Either your kid plays it, a friend plays it, or you yourself hop into the virtual world of Los Santos for an hour or two after work once in a while. GTA 5 is the best selling non-bundled game of all time.

How does a game become so popular? Read More