Nintendo is on a roll in China. According to a report from Reuters, the company, through its local partner Tencent, has shipped a million Switch consoles within the country.
The Switch shipping figures, released by Tencent on January 11, 2021, suggest that Nintendo is now the market leader for consoles in China. Niko Partners analyst Daniel “ZhugeEX” Ahmad noted that Nintendo has outsold the combined official sales figures of the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One over the same period.
If a million units seems low, that would be because game consoles in China are a relatively new market. Until 2014, console games and their associated hardware were banned officially in China, though interested players could acquire them via the ‘grey market’, via importers and overseas purchases. When the ban was lifted in 2014, Microsoft entered the market with the Xbox, followed by Sony and the PS4 in 2015. Nintendo partnered with Tencent to launch the Switch officially in 2019.
Officially available Switch consoles in China are sold through Tencent at the price of 2,099 CNY (about USD $323). They differ from their international counterparts in that they’re thoroughly locked down, though. Buyers can only play games approved by regulators, and even now the official games list only includes 13 titles. Not even major hits like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have been approved yet, and only in April 2020 did the system get a game that wasn’t a Mario title.
Nevertheless, the console has sold well, particularly thanks to the success of fitness title Ring Fit Adventure. According to Ahmad, adding estimates of grey market imports could put the actual count of Switch consoles in China above 4 million. With numbers like that, Nintendo could be in a position to define what console gaming looks like in China in the near and medium-term future.