Forget about 'Animal Crossing' and the PlayStation 5: 2020's biggest sellers in gaming were 'Call of Duty' and the Nintendo Switch

Julian Stratenschulte / Picture Alliance via Getty Images
  • In 2020, more people bought and played video games than in any year prior.
  • Despite all the hype around “Cyberpunk 2077” and the PlayStation 5, two “Call of Duty” games dominated sales for the year – and Nintendo’s Switch was the best-selling console.
  • “Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War” and “Call of Duty Modern Warfare” took the top two sales spots for the year, followed by “Animal Crossing” and this year’s “Madden” entry.
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Given the headlines in 2020, you’re forgiven if you thought “Cyberpunk 2077” was the best-selling game of the year and Sony’s PlayStation 5 was the best-selling console.

As it turns out, neither is true: Not one, but two “Call of Duty” games dominated the game sales charts in 2020, and Nintendo’s Switch outsold every other game console on the market, according to year-end video game sales data published Friday by NPD Group.

2020’s new “Call of Duty” entry, which launched on November 13 for myriad gaming platforms, took the top sales spot for the year. In second place was 2019’s “Call of Duty” entry, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.”

Though “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” launched all the way back in March 2020, it was unable to beat out the goliath double-header of “Call of Duty” games. 2020 was the twelfth year in a row that the annual game sales chart was topped by a “Call of Duty” game, the report said. Notably, Nintendo doesn’t participate in the NPD Group’s annual chart, and as such it doesn’t include digital sales of the latest “Animal Crossing” game.

As of September 30, Nintendo said that over 26 million copies of its latest “Animal Crossing” game were sold. The game is only available on Nintendo’s Switch console, unlike “Call of Duty,” which is available on five platforms.

PlayStation 5 purchaseCHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

In terms of hardware, Nintendo’s Switch continued to draw the biggest numbers — even during a year when new Xbox and PlayStation consoles launched.


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Not only was the Switch the best-selling game console of 2020, but Switch sales in 2020 were the second best for any game console in any year.

“Only the 2008 dollar sales of Nintendo Wii were higher,” NPD video game analyst Mat Piscatella said.

The hard-to-find PlayStation 5, meanwhile, came in second place in dollar sales, though it was still outsold in sheer volume by its predecessor, the PlayStation 4. Notably, the least expensive version of the PlayStation 5 costs $US400, and the most expensive version of the PlayStation 4 costs $US400.

More broadly, the video game industry enjoyed a major up year, with a 27% increase in dollar sales from last year, totalling a whopping $US56.9 billion.

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