2017 was thought to be a year of decline for the console industry. That perception was based almost entirely on the fact that the console manufacturers stopped reporting detailed numbers, which usually indicates a major drop in sales. However, in early 2018, NPD released their sales data for 2017, showing that it was actually a pretty good year for console and console game sales. 2018 has ended in the same way, with sales being far higher than expectations and shows that it was actually a pretty good year.
In the console wars, Nintendo has the crown, with their Switch console continuing its strong sales, leading to top hardware sales and top revenue. This was driven by a number of factors, likely the largest factor being the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which took the #5 spot in total game sales for the year, despite being released on December 7. The release of a banner game like that will always drive console sales to holdouts waiting for that title to arrive.
Another factor is the return on Nintendo's risks taken on the hardware. Unlike Microsoft and Sony, who focus their hardware on core gamers, Nintendo built a console that could appeal to everyone. It works at home and on the go and offers a couple of unique color options for the controllers, including neon. The game options are far wider, ranging from the more casual titles to AAA games.
Nintendo wasn't the only growth for the year, though. Microsoft and Sony both saw sales increases over 2017, as well. In fact, overall hardware sales grew 8 percent in the US, which is over top of the massive 27 percent increase in 2017. Mat Piscatella, an NPD analyst, said through a statement,
Console, PC, and mobile platforms all saw significant growth, while developing portions of the market like subscription and streaming services gave us a peek into a future full of possibilities for the industry and gamers.
2019 will likely not see the same growth as the past 2 years, but growth of any type this far into a console generation suggests that it could continue.