A new infographic visualizes Nintendo’s handheld vs. console sales


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It’s no big secret that, when it comes to sales of home video-game consoles, Nintendo is not exactly the king of the hill. That distinction belongs to Sony. (As this infographic shows, the PlayStation reigns supreme in that realm.)

Where Nintendo has ruled the industry, though, is in the handheld realm. A new infographic from Visual Capitalist compares the company’s handheld sales with its own home-console sales. (The visualization is based on Nintendo’s own stats as of September 30, 2020. In other words, it doesn’t include any sales from the most recent holiday-shopping season—which were no doubt dominated by new consoles from both Sony and Microsoft.)

Infographic from Visual Capitalist. Click to view full-size image.

Nintendo has sold 440.53 million handheld units and 280.87 million Nintendo home console units. In an article accompanying the graphic, Niccolo Conte cites several reasons for the difference, including lower price points for the handheld units, and also their portability.

It started with the Game Boy

Conte notes that Nintendo’s dominance of the handheld game console market began when it released the original Game Boy in 1989.

“Since then, the company has always offered a handheld and a home console, enabling them to capture a broader audience of gamers and non-gamers,” Conte writes. “While handheld systems have regularly outsold their home console counterparts, combining the two into the hybrid Nintendo Switch has proven profitable for Nintendo.”

Since its introduction in 2017, the Switch has sold more than 58 million units. In 2019, Nintendo released a handheld-only version, the Switch Lite, which had sold over 10 million units as of September 30, 2020.

More Nintendo stats visualized

Want a deeper dive into Nintendo’s console success story? Check out this infographic tracing sales from the Game Boy to the Switch Lite. (We missed it when Visual Capitalist first posted it on December 24, 2020; we were too busy sipping hot cocoa and hanging our stockings by the fireplace with care.)

Infographic from Visual Capitalist. Click to view full-size image.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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