The switch to the Switch: How the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly increased and continues to increase the sales of the Nintendo Switch

By: David Meyer

A picture depicting the new Nintendo Switch Lite. Image taken from: (

Nearly four years ago, the Nintendo Switch was released and received amazing reviews immediately, and within the first six months the console had sold over 20 million units. The console has continued to grow since then and has accumulated over 60 million units sold, with nearly half of the sales being within the past fiscal year. And although about 10 million of these sales were within the holiday season, the overall rate of the sales of the Switch has increased on average by over 200 percent: the best year of sales, of the Nintendo Switch, over three years after its release.

A large part of the Switch that attracts many customers is the wide range of games you can play on the console, with popular titles such as ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ and ‘Super Mario Odyssey.’

However, as quarantine started to become a necessity to slow the spread of COVID-19, a new game from a series nearly 20 years old was released: ‘Animal Crossing (New Horizons).’ For many casual gamers, this was a big deal because the previous main series title was released almost a decade earlier. However, this game significantly started to attract newcomers as well, being a sandbox style game that has a very small learning curve with nearly endless hours of playtime. This, coupled with the fact that many people would be staying in their homes for long periods of time, made both the sales of the game, the Nintendo Switch, and the Nintendo Switch Lite skyrocket.

The Nintendo Switch Lite was released by Nintendo in late 2019 as a way to get more customers interested in the Switch and the games that come with the console (although, many people that ended up buying the new console already had a Nintendo Switch). But, with the lowered price of the newer console, and many people eager to try out ‘Animal Crossing’ during quarantine, this console’s popularity grew and its sales followed suit.

Going forward, the Switch announced some very large titles recently, including ‘Super Mario 3D All-Stars’; a collection of the three first 3D Mario games to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros’ initial release. This collection includes three of the highest rated games of all time, all having a score of 97 or above out of 100 on Metacritic which is a very respected source on the popularity of video games.

Additionally, these games are all dated, and especially with one of them, ‘Super Mario Sunshine,’ being nearly two decades old. This made many Mario fans ecstatic, and resulted in the game being sold out for pre-orders within the first three days worldwide. And although the limited time release of the game is partly to blame for this rush, the dramatic sales of this series of nostalgic games for so many will no doubt continue to increase the sales of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite in the near future.

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