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Switch Best-Selling Console in the US in March, PS5 Fastest-Selling Console After 5 Months

Switch Best-Selling Console in the US in March, PS5 Fastest-Selling Console After 5 Months - Sales

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 May 2021 / 4,216 Views

The Nintendo Switch was the best-selling console in the US in March 2021 in terms of unit and dollar sales, according to figures from NPD. NPD includes the dates for February 28 through April 3. 

The Switch has been the best-selling console for 28 consecutive months, since December 2018, which is the longest streak since NPD started tracking sales numbers. 

The Nintendo Switch in the first quarter of 2021 is the best-selling console in terms of unit sales, while the PlayStation 5 ranked first in dollar sales. 

"Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform in both units and dollars during the month of March," said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella. "In the first quarter, Nintendo Switch was the unit sales leader while PlayStation 5 ranked first in hardware dollar sales."

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The PlayStation 5 is the fastest-selling hardware platform in US history in terms of total dollar sales after five months.

"PlayStation 5 is the fastest selling console in U.S. history in both unit and dollar sales (lifetime sales with five months on the market)," said Piscatella. 

Overall spending on video games increased 18 percent year-over-year from $4.76 billion to $5.61 billion in February. Overall spending on hardware increased 47 percent year-on-year from $463 million to $680 million. Spending on video game content increased 14 percent year-over-year from $4.06 billion to $4.63 billion. 

"March 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories reached a March record $5.6 billion, 18% higher when compared to a year ago," said Piscatella. "First quarter consumer spending totaled $14.9 billion, 30% higher than 2020's first quarter."

"Monthly sales are now comparable to year ago periods that were impacted by pandemic-driven consumer spending increases," he added. "March 2021 gains in hardware, accessory and content sales (particularly Mobile) pushed the market to growth despite the elevated comp."

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the best-selling game in the US in March 2021. It is also the best-selling game of the first quarter and of the last 12 months.

"Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War returned to the top of the monthly best-sellers chart in March," said Piscatella. "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was also the best-selling title of both the first quarter as well as the 12-month period ending March."

Monster Hunter Rise debuted in second place, while it was also the best-selling Nintendo Switch title for the month. It is already the second best-selling Monster Hunter game history in terms of dollar sales, trailing only Monster Hunter: World.

"Monster Hunter Rise debuted as March's 2nd best-seller, while also ranking 1st on Switch," said Piscatella. "With just one month on the market, lifetime dollar sales of Monster Hunter Rise rank 2nd amongst all Monster Hunter franchise releases, trailing only Monster Hunter World."

Outriders debuted in third place and is also the third best-selling game on Xbox and PlayStation consoles. 

"Outriders launched as the 3rd best-selling game of March," said Piscatella. "Outriders ranked as the #3 best-selling game on both Xbox and PlayStation platforms."

Mario Kart 8 continues to sell well as it was the sixth best-selling game in the US in March. It is also now the best-selling racing game in US history when you include the Wii U version. 

"Mario Kart 8 placed 6th on the March 2021 best-sellers chart," said Piscatella. "Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling racing genre video game in U.S. history."

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time launched for the Nintendo Switch in March, which helped it jump from 65th place in February to 15th in March. 

"The March launch of the Switch version of Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time helped the title rise to #15 on the March best-sellers chart after placing 65th in February," said Piscatella.

Here are the top 20 best-selling games in terms of dollars for March 2021:

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 2 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 NEW Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
3 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 1 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
5 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
6 9 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
7 7 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
8 10 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
9 16 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
10 8 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
11 11 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
12 14 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
13 19 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
14 15 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
15 65 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Activision Blizzard (Corp)
16 20 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
17 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
18 13 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive
19 22 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
20 12 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling Nintendo games for March 2021:

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
2 1 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
3 2 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
4 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
5 5 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
6 4 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
7 7 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
8 8 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
9 10 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
10 16 Luigi’s Mansion 3* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling PlayStation games for March 2021:

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
3 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 5 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
5 4 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
6 9 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
7 6 Minecraft Microsoft (Corp)
8 11 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
9 7 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive
10 12 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling Xbox games for March 2021:

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
5 9 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
6 2 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
7 6 Forza Horizon 4 Microsoft (Corp)
8 NEW It Takes Two Electronic Arts
9 16 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix Inc (Corp)
10 22 Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
* Digital sales not included

Thanks, VentureBeat.


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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14 Comments
SKMBlake (on 16 April 2021)

A Game Pass game being the 3rd best selling of the month for the Xbox possibly means:

  • the overall sales of the games below #2 are pretty low OR
  • the amount of Game Pass subscribers is way lower than expected on these consoles, and people still prefer buying games separately
  • 0
gtotheunit91 SKMBlake (on 16 April 2021)

This list is strictly in terms of actual sales. No subscription numbers can be on here because that's info only Xbox would have. Overall sales are lower most likely because of majority of people are playing Outriders on Game Pass rather than outright buying the game. So number 3 in overall sales for a brand new IP when most players are playing on Game Pass isn't bad considering 2 established franchises like CoD and AC: Valhalla that AREN'T on Game Pass are the only ones above it. If Game Pass didn't exist, the game would've been number 1 for the month. Plus Outriders is number 3 on PlayStation's list as well so......take that as you'd like

  • 0
SKMBlake gtotheunit91 (on 16 April 2021)

How can you come up with this conclusion ? It does not make any sense. You really think a new IP with very average reviews would've been #1 if it wasn't on the Game Pass, and selling more than CoD, a widely popular franchise ?
Outriders being number 3 on Playstation just shows your reasoning for Xbox doesn't make sense.

  • 0
gtotheunit91 SKMBlake (on 16 April 2021)

A new IP with very average reviews making it to number 3 on both consoles is nothing to sneeze at still. Although sales will most likely plummet going forward. Okay, maybe it wouldn't have beaten CoD, but the reasoning makes complete sense. There was 18 million GP subscribers over the fall, so let's assume it's somewhere over 20 million now at least, especially after the Bethesda deal completing. On PS the game has sold let's say 5 million for the month and 2 million for the month on Xbox because it's no secret there's just more PS's sold out there. That's just actual sales which is the only option if you're on PS.
Take into account the game was on GP Day 1 and all of sudden, many people that never would've considered buying the game are actually trying it out now because it comes at no additional cost to them. So you potentially have over 10 million on Xbox playing Outriders for the month and Square Enix sees that there's more activity on Xbox rather than PS and Square gets a nice bump in pay because so many were trying it out. Which the numbers weren't including those who actually outright bought the game. Either way, player count is dramatically higher if the only option was to buy the game.
Now will that hold up due to how middling the game actually is? Most likely not

  • 0
SKMBlake gtotheunit91 (on 16 April 2021)

Yeah, but you missed my point. My point was: if there are this many people willing to buy an average new IP on a console which you can play without actually buying it if you suscribed to a service, maybe the actual appeal of Game Pass isn't that big for Xbox users nor didn't attract users who wanted to play Outriders.

And aslo, why MS buying Bethesda would've any impact on Game Pass subscriptions ? They only added a bunch of older games after the acquisition so far

  • +3
Alistair SKMBlake (on 16 April 2021)

you just making stuff up, we know there are more than 20 million game pass subscribers as Microsoft said so

  • 0
SKMBlake Alistair (on 19 April 2021)

Where did they say that it reached 20 million suscribers ?
And what stuff do I make up ?

  • 0
kazuyamishima SKMBlake (on 16 April 2021)

It’s possible that the number of Gamepass subscribers on PC are way higher than Xbox consoles, Outriders is on Gamepass for Xbox but not for PC.

Or, that Gamepass on Xbox consoles helped the game with more sales.

  • 0
Shiken SKMBlake (on 16 April 2021)

A lot of gamepass subscribers will try it on gamepass first, then buy it if they like it. Every gamepass game is 20% off by default, so it makes sense people would want to take advantage of that before it is eventually removed if they plan to stick with the game.

A game selling well =/= lack of interest in gamepass. It has been known for some time now that both gamepass and full purchases both have their place in the XBox ecosystem.

  • +2
SKMBlake Shiken (on 19 April 2021)

Why people who have a Game Pass subscription would try the game and then buy it within the 3 days of the March NPD sales ?

  • 0
Shiken SKMBlake (on 19 April 2021)

Ok let me repeat myself. People who wanted to owm the game got to try it first, then buy it at a 20% discount. If your argument is that people prefer to own their games, it should not be so hard to understand. Most people know if they like a game or not im a single day, let alome three.

Gamepass not only saves people money that do not buy the games, but it also saves for people who do. It allows them to try a game out before buying, and then buy it at a discount if they like it. Real basic stuff.

  • +1
SKMBlake Shiken (on 19 April 2021)

Yeah, but you miss my point: these sales are for the 3 first days of the game's release. Trying Game Pass is like paying 1$ for a whole month. According to your logic, people would've bought the game $60 even if their trial period for playing the game for $1 is far from over.
There are maybe people who are willing to pay 2 to play the game (a very average one), but I really don't think this represents the majority here.

  • 0
SvenTheTurkey SKMBlake (on 19 April 2021)

I think gamepass and game sales somehow don't overlap much. Gamepass seems like more of the mainstream market while buying a game is more of the hardcore market.

Think of it this way Gamer Joe wants to buy the game because he doesn't want to rely on gamepass. On the other hand, Mainstream Bob has gamepass because it's like netflix. He just plays the games available.

Obviously someone who plays a lot of games would benefit from gamepass, but I just think there's a disconnect between gamepass and owning a game for now.

Maybe that's just my thinking. And it's a lot of conjecture. But that's the landscape in my eyes currently.

  • 0
SKMBlake SvenTheTurkey (on 19 April 2021)

My point is, if Gamer Joe prefers to buy the game ratjer than having itnon Game Pass, and since Gamer Joe is the one why buys games and console and represents 60-70% of the user base, maybe the game pass on Xbox consoles isn't that actually big as some fans want to think

  • +1