HONG KONG (Reuters) – Nintendo Co. Ltd. has shipped 1 million switch consoles to China since it launched the device in the world’s largest video game market in late 2019, its Chinese partner Tencent Holdings Ltd. said on Monday.
The Japanese company launched its Switch console in China in December 2019 in partnership with distributor Tencent, China’s largest video game and social media company, in a drive to expand the reach of home-portable devices.
According to consultancy Niko Partners, official figures released by Tencent suggest that Nintendo has overtaken Microsoft Corp and Sony Corp as the nation’s largest console device vendor.
Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmed said the 1 million sales figure exceeded the combined sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Although limited games for initial sales and the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in China were hampered, they were later boosted by the August release of the popular home exercise game “Ring Fit Adventure” in the country.
A Tencent spokesperson called the sale of 2,099 yuan ($ 323) units “a good start”, and said that “the game published on the Nintendo Switch (China-Exclusive version) has been well received by the market.”
Globally, Nintendo has estimated that it will sell 24 million switch units for the year ending March 2021.
Console games are still considered a niche market in China, the largest video game market in the world, with the largest focus on mobile games.
The country banned console games until 2014, with consumers only able to access them through the gray market.
Microsoft’s Xbox entered China in 2014, and a year later Sony’s PlayStation 4 consoled.
Switch consoles sold in China are closed and buyers can only play games that have been approved by regulators. Tencent has so far released 13 games for the China Nintendo Switch, but hit films such as “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Animal Crossing” are yet to turn green.
Niko Partners estimates that China’s console market revenue will reach $ 2.15 billion in 2024, double the 2019 and next-generation console launches due to the success of the switch. Niko’s Ahmed stated that most of the games published for China Nintendo Switch belong to local developers.
“China is important to Nintendo because the country does not yet have a consolation culture in the way the US or Japan does, which represents a growth opportunity for the company.”
($ 1 = 6.4848 Chinese Yuan Renminbi)
Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Lincoln Feast.