It’s fair to say that Nintendo has been the king of the handheld console market for quite some time – and some would even argue that the Japanese company created the sector, via its insanely successful Game Boy system, launched in 1989.
Nintendo hasn’t had the market all to itself during the past few decades – NEC, SNK, Atari, Sega, Bandai and Sony have all tried their hand at ending Nintendo’s portable dominance (with wildly varying degrees of success, it should be noted) – but it has emerged victorious each and every time, so much so that it now has the handheld sector all to itself (albeit in the form of the Switch, which is a hybrid system capable of both on-TV and portable play).
While Sony may have given up the fight and Microsoft seems uninterested in taking part in a portable war, Nintendo has stuck at it – and the incredible commercial success of the Switch means that the Kyoto firm has now sold in excess of 500 million handhelds since the launch of the Game Boy at the end of the ’80s.
Here’s the math:
Game Boy / Game Boy Pocket / Game Boy Color = 118.69 million
Game Boy Advance / Game Boy Micro = 81.51 million
Nintendo DS / DSi = 154.02 million
Nintendo 3DS / New 3DS = 75.94 million
Nintendo Switch / Switch Lite = 84.59 million
Total units sold = 514.75 million
While it’s no shock that Nintendo’s sales figures in this area are impressive, crossing the half a billion mark is truly staggering; by way of contrast, Nintendo’s total home console sales since the launch of the Famicom / NES stand at just over 365 million (even if you include the Switch), while Sony’s wildly successful PlayStation home console range has sold almost 461 million units since its launch in the mid-’90s.