Since the Nintendo Switch launched in March 2017, the console has held onto a huge amount of brand recognition and staying power. An impressive library of games, which seems to grow at a rather rapid pace, has certainly helped matters. But the real star here is the multi-pronged approach Nintendo has taken to marketing the portable console to both gamers and developers. Considering this, it’s rather easy to understand why Nintendo has been able to create one of their best selling consoles ever in just two short years.
Recounting through all of the hardware Nintendo has made over the years reveals quite the legacy. The development of the most successful line of portable gaming devices ever has helped make Nintendo a household name in video games. And leveraging that brand and the wealth of experience has helped propel the Switch to incredible heights. But that’s just the start, as Nintendo is only planning to ramp up the power of their brand in 2020 and beyond.
But let’s hold up a second and admire how Nintendo got to this point. A huge part of their marketing has been a solid lineup of first-party brands. But to support the big names like Zelda and Mario,, in addition to iconic spin-offs like Mario Party, Ninty has built a rapport throughout the games industry which has attracted positive attention from indie developers and AAA teams alike. Then there’s monster hits that helped cement their place in gaming history, like the Game Boy and its eventual successor the DS line.
And even as Nintendo winds down the DS line of products, it still remains a powerful entry in the long stable of consoles Nintendo has produced. Then there’s the Nintendo Wii, the last smashing success before the stellar launch of the Switch. That console sold a whopping 101.63 million units during its lifetime, and though the gimmicky controls aren’t remembered fondly by many gamers, it did help revitalize Nintendo as a serious console gaming entity. And even though its followup didn’t manage to capture much long-term success, with only 13.5 million units sold on the hardware side, the effort did good things as it eventually resulted in the development of the Switch.
Here’s the full breakdown by top 10 consoles sold:
- Nintendo DS – 154.02 million
- Game Boy – 118.69 million
- Wii – 101.63 million
- Game Boy Advance – 81.51 million
- Nintendo 3DS – 75.45 million
- NES – 61.91 million
- SNES – 49.10 million
- Nintendo Switch – 41.67 million
- Nintendo 64 – 32.93 million
- GameCube – 21.74 million
According to these numbers, Nintendo is the best-selling hardware manufacturer of all time with 752.21 million consoles and handhelds sold. This figure does have some key caveats though, as it doesn’t include any of the mini-consoles or lesser-known units, like the infamously bad Virtual Boy. Other smaller efforts like the Game & Watch didn’t make the top ten, but still sold millions of units. If we include those 3.6 million NES Classics, the 5.28 million SNES Classics, the 770,000 Virtual Boys, and the 43.4 million units of various Game & Watch hardware sold, the total number of consoles sold by Nintendo tops out at 805.26 million units. A rather insanely cool feat for the company that once made playing cards.