Nintendo Switch outsells PS3 and Xbox 360 — and the Wii could be next

Nintendo Switch standing on carpet
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While gamers lament the lack of PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles on the market, there’s one console that’s slowly but steadily been setting sales records: the Nintendo Switch. The Switch held onto the “best-selling console” each month more than two years, according to the NPD, and it’s also become Nintendo’s fastest-selling console

Now, the mighty handheld hybrid has achieved two more milestones: it’s outsold both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 in terms of lifetime sales. What’s more: It’s on track to do the same to Nintendo’s incredibly popular Wii console. Information comes from Nintendo Japan, which updates lifetime hardware and software sales for each of its consoles regularly. 

At present, the Nintendo Switch has sold 89.04 million units, along with 632.4 million units of software. Compare and contrast to the Nintendo 3DS at 75.94 million units of hardware, and 386.94 million units of software, or the Wii U at 13.56 million units of hardware, and 103.39 million units of software.

What makes the Switch’s sales numbers particularly impressive is that the console has moved so many units in a relatively short amount of time. Compare and contrast: the Switch came out in 2017, and has sold 89 million units. The PS3, during its entire functional lifetime (2005-2016), sold 87.4 million, while the Xbox 360 (2005-2016) sold 84 million. We don’t know exactly when Nintendo will replace the Switch — or if the company plans to simply upgrade it, like the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X — but it’s clearly done well for itself in its first four years on the market.

However, Nintendo may be its own biggest competitor when it comes to breaking sales goals. The Wii — a massive success, due to high crossover appeal among non-gamers — sold 101.63 million units of hardware and 921.85 million units of software during its seven years on the market. The Switch could very well surpass the hardware goal, although the software goal seems a little more ambitious.

In fact, software may explain part of the reason why Switch sales have slowed down considerably over the past year. In March 2020, people bought the system in droves to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Since then, there hasn’t been a huge, must-have title for the system — although there have certainly been some good games, including Mario Golf: Super Rush and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD.

With the Nintendo Switch OLED due out this fall, and big games like Metroid Dread and Breath of the Wild 2 on the horizon, the console could pick up some more steam, particularly since it’s generally much easier to find than PS5 or Xbox Series X. On the other hand, once Sony and Microsoft’s new machines become more widely available, gamers could decide that they’d rather have something more powerful than the aging Switch. As is always the case, what you should buy depends on which games you want to play.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.