New numbers from the NPD Group show that 2018 was a standout year for Nintendo. In a series of tweets detailing the firm’s year-end sales estimates for the United States game industry, analyst Mat Piscatella said that the Switch was 2018’s best-selling platform, both in terms of units sold and dollar sales.
Not only did the Switch dominate 2018, but Piscatella also notes that the partially-portable console had the highest annual unit and dollar sales total for any hardware platform in the past 3 years, beating out a record set by the PlayStation 4 back in 2015.
Looking at video game hardware as a whole, the NPD says that just over $5.1 billion was spent in 2018, an 8 percent increase from last year’s hardware spending.
In just December alone, the Switch managed to beat out a 2009 record set by the Nintendo Wii for highest dollar sales in a single month. A similar milestone was also set when looking at units sold during December; Piscatella says that the Switch achieved the “highest December unit sales for a single platform since December 2010.”
In another thread on Twitter, Piscatella attributes much of this late-year success to the December 7 release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a title he says performed significantly better than he had expected and “pushed Switch to highest sales in the year.”
The NPD data drop also offers a peek at the best selling games of 2018 across various platforms, but it is worth taking those sales numbers with a grain of salt. The group’s reporting on game sales, particularly digital isn’t an exact measurement since not all publishers fully share data on their sales with the NPD, but the charts can still offer a general idea of what games and trends attracted attention throughout the year.
For 2018, the NPD records a grand total of $16.7 billion spent across video game hardware, software, and accessories. The best selling game of 2018 across all platforms (in terms of dollar sales, not units sold) was Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2, though it is worth noting that 11 entries on that top 20 games list are missing sales data from either digital or PC digital sales, including runner-up Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate, the best selling game for the month of December, also reached number 5 on that roundup of 2018's best selling games, despite the fact that none of its digital sales were counted. More data on those best-selling games can be found in Piscatella’s full thread.