Big in Japan: Nintendo Switch Lite sells over one million units in just three months

Nintendo’s dominance over the Japanese market shows no sign of slowing down, according to Famitsu’s yearly sales report for 2019. Most notable is the remarkable success of the Switch Lite in the region, skyrocketing to a touch over one million units sold since its launch, that’s in just three months.

This makes the Switch Lite the second most successful console in the region in 2019 – beaten only by the Switch itself, with 3,448,502 units sold, resulting in a total of 4,494,000 units sold for the Switch family. 

These sales dwarf those by rival Sony, with the Switch family claiming a 75 per cent share of all 2019 hardware sales, with 17 per cent of that total coming from the Switch Lite itself. The Switch family’s sales are up roughly 30 per cent from 2018 too, undoubtedly helped by the release of the Switch lite.

For comparison, rival Sony sold 773,773 units of the PS4 and 422,380 units for the PS4 Pro – For a total of 1,196,000 units sold across the PS4 line, a decrease of 29.5 per cent year on year, with a total of 1,695,227 units sold in 2018.

Model 2019 (Estimated) 2018 (Estimated) Y/Y Comp
Nintendo Switch 3,448,502 3,482,388
Nintendo Switch Lite 1,045,383
PlayStation 4 773,773 1,237,581
PlayStation 4 Pro 422,380 457,646
Xbox One S 3,129 4,186
Xbox One X 5,186 11,153
Wii U 2,004
New Nintendo 3DS 2,163
New Nintendo 3DS XL 30,090 185,636
Nintendo 2DS 14,332 21,928
New Nintendo 2DS XL 146,761 356,693 41.1%
PlayStation Vita 37,668 181,728 20.7%
Total 5,927,204 5,943,106 99.7%

The hardware success was mirrored by the staggering success of Pokemon Sword and Shield, which topped the Japanese charts for 2019, despite releasing towards the end of the year on November 15th. In fact, Sword and Shield sales have been so good, with 2,988,000 copies sold, that they enjoyed a three-fold lead over the second-ranked title, Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

Nintendo’s software sales had a strong showing across the board, claiming nine of the ten most sold games for the year, with the sole exception being Kingdom Hearts III on the PS4, which is ranked third. 

Although it was beaten to the top spot, Super Smash Bros Ultimate saw a strong year, breaking the million annual sales barrier for the second straight year, making it the Switch’s most successful title to date with 3,453,000 copies sold. However, it is worth pointing out that Pokemon Sword and Shield have reached nearly 3m copies sold in just the first two months following its release.

Ranking Platform Title Publisher Release Date Copies Sold/Year
Copies Sold
1 Switch Pocket Monster Sword/Shield Pokemon 11/15/19 2,988,134 2,988,134
2 Switch Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo 12/7/18 1,092,397 3,453,052
3 PS4 Kingdom Hearts III SQUARE ENIX 1/25/19 861,226 861,226
4 Switch Super Mario Maker 2 Nintendo 6/28/19 800,504 800,504
5 Switch New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Nintendo 1/11/19 747,589 747,589
6 Switch Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo 4/28/17 628,712 2,659,009
7 Switch Minecraft: Switch Edition Microsoft Japan 6/21/18 620,894 1,145,939
8 Switch Luigi’s Mansion 3 Nintendo 10/31/19 505,998 505,998
9 Switch Super Mario Party Nintendo 10/5/18 498,857 1,263,710
10 Switch Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo 10/18/19 495,639 495,639

The physical game market in Japan was valued at 326.45 billion yen, down 5 per cent from 2018, reflecting a 6.2 per cent decline in hardware sales to 159.54 billion yen and a 5.2 per cent decline in physical game sales to 160.90 billion yen. However, total game revenue (digital and physical) are expected to remain at the same level as in 2018, thanks to continuing growth in paid downloads and microtransactions.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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