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Nintendo Switch overtakes PS2’s first-year sales record in Japan

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Japan’s bought as many Switches in 10 months as they did Wii Us in five years

The Nintendo Switch in its dock, with the Joy-Con grip. James Bareham/Vox Media

Nintendo Switch has had a huge December over in Japan, with nearly 900,000 systems sold by Dec. 24. Based on the most recent cumulative sales data from Famitsu, the country’s biggest gaming publication, Nintendo has now sold just under 3.3 million Switch consoles in its homeland — both edging out PlayStation 2’s first-year sales numbers and matching Wii U’s lifetime sales to date.

Comparing PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Switch’s first 12 months on the market paint an interesting picture, as helpfully shown by a table from fan site Nintendo Soup. Both consoles launched in early March, not typically a crowded time for new releases. But while the Switch sold an impressive 520,000 units in its first month, the PS2 blasted it away: Sony sold almost 900,000 consoles in March 2000 alone, according to Famitsu data.

But the Switch has picked up speed over the holiday season, with the chart pointing toward October as a major turning point. Likely benefiting from the huge release of Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo moved almost twice as many Switch consoles in October than the month prior, and the number has only grown from there.

Meanwhile, PlayStation 2 sales plateaued midway through its first year, failing to reach its first-month heights again by 2000’s end. Sony later attributed this to a production shortage, however, which limited the PS2’s holiday season potential. In its first year, Sony still sold an impressive 3 million consoles in Japan alone; the Switch only slightly edges it out from the perspective of raw numbers.

Of course, the PS2 went on to become the best-selling gaming console ever, with more than 155 million consoles sold. It continues to hold that title today — so the Switch’s milestone is likely nothing but a blip on Sony’s radar.

But as for how this tracks on Nintendo’s own scale? Since Wii U’s December 2015 launch in Japan, it’s also moved about 3.3 million consoles. Worldwide, Nintendo has sold 10 million Switch consoles as of mid-December.

The Switch is on pace to blow past the Wii U’s total lifetime sales numbers worldwide, too, which should give any anxious fans or potential skeptics relief that Nintendo doesn’t have another Wii U-like bomb on its hands.