Nintendo Switch growth continues as aging rivals Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One stagnate

Nintendo’s Switch console has now reached nearly 37 million units sold over its lifetime. (Nintendo Photo)

Nintendo, the youngster of the video game console market — well, at least the youngster the current console generation — continues to grow steadily as its primary competitors struggle with the inevitable effects of old age.

Sales of Nintendo’s hybrid Switch console rose to 2.13 million units in the June quarter, up more than 13 percent from the same period a year ago, Nintendo said in its quarterly earnings report Tuesday morning. The company’s profits fell overall, but that was largely due to the effects of exchange rates rather than any fundamental issues in Nintendo’s business.

With the latest results, nearly 37 million Switch consoles have been sold since the March 2017 release. That compares to 13.5 million units over the life of the company’s prior console, the Wii U; and more than 100 million units of the blockbuster Wii console.

Sony’s PlayStation 4, originally released in 2013, sold another 3.2 million units in the June quarter, according to Sony’s earnings release. That pushed the PS4’s cumulative total to more than 100 million units, making it the fastest console to reach that mark, according to Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners, as noted by The Verge.

However, overall sales of the PS4 were flat compared to the same quarter a year ago. Sony blamed the result on the buzz surrounding its plans to release a new console next year. This type of lull is a classic sales-and-marketing challenge for consumer electronics makers, as some of those who would otherwise buy an existing console decide to wait to buy the new one, or to buy the existing one at a cheaper price when the new one comes out.

“PS4 hardware unit sales in the first quarter were slightly below our expectations primarily due to the news regarding our next generation console,” Sony said in its earnings summary. “Taking this into account, we have decided to prioritize profitability going forward, and have revised downward our forecast for hardware unit sales by 1 million units to 15 million units.”

The black line in this Sony graphic shows the declining trend in PS4 unit sales in recent years, but the console still reached 100 million units in record time.

At the same time, Sony said, “The fact that we plan to sell 15 million units this fiscal year, which is the 7th year since launch, demonstrates that the PS4 platform is still garnering support from many users.”

Nintendo also announced plans for a new Switch console, the Switch Lite, but that announcement was after the end of the June quarter.

The company has faced a recent JoyCon controversy, with numerous users reporting problems with the Switch controller. The Verge reported Tuesday that the Switch can now run Android apps, thanks to an unofficial port.

Nintendo, based in Japan, has its North American headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

Across town, Microsoft’s gaming segment was the only major part of the company to see a drop in revenue in the June quarter. This unit, including Xbox hardware, Xbox Live subscriptions and gaming revenue, declined 10 percent year-over-year to $2.05 billion in the quarter, due largely to a 48 percent decrease in Xbox hardware sales.

The Xbox One also dates to 2013. Last month, Microsoft announced plans for a next-generation console, code-named Project Scarlett, to be released for the 2020 holidays.

Across the industry, game console spending in the U.S. is down 20 percent so far this year, according to the NPD research firm. Hardware spending in June dipped 33 percent year-over-year to $235 million, NPD reported.

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