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China Is Nintendo’s Secret Weapon in War With PlayStation, Xbox

  • Nintendo Switch is China’s all-time favorite console
  • Partner Tencent has leveraged mobile and social dominance
Animal Crossing on a Nintendo Switch game console.
Animal Crossing on a Nintendo Switch game console.Photographer: Chona Kasinger/Bloomberg

On the first anniversary of its official launch in China, Nintendo Co.’s Switch can already count itself the sales champion in a gaming arena that’s historically shunned consoles from powerhouses like Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

The Switch, distributed in the country by entertainment titan Tencent Holdings Ltd., has sold more than 1.3 million units this year through both legal and gray market channels, according to market tracker Niko Partners. That’s almost double the combined sales of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the period, pushing up the Switch’s lifetime China sales to nearly 4 million.