The Nintendo Switch needs no introduction. It’s a fan-favorite system that’s home to an incredible library of games that you can play at home or on the go. Nintendo rose from the ashes after the Wii U’s disappointing performance and created a system that is nearing 80 million units sold in fewer than four years — no easy feat for any console, especially one that is inarguably less powerful than its contemporaries.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to break down just how well the top-selling games on the platform have performed. Impressively, all but one game on this list has surpassed 10 million copies sold, which just goes to show how successful the machine truly is. Keep in mind, Nintendo has a detailed list of its bestselling games here, all as of December 31, 2020.
These are the bestselling Nintendo Switch games of all time.
10. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe — 9.82 million
Kicking things off is a game that originally launched for the Wii U — though, its Switch sales stats are counted separately. That’s right, although New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a re-release, many people missed out on it the first time around due to the poor sales of the Wii U. But that’s OK, because nearly 10 million people purchased it on Nintendo Switch since its launch in 2019, and for good reason — it’s one of the best 2D Mario games out there.
It features fantastic music, imaginative levels, beautiful art, and cooperative gameplay for up to four players. It’s a must-own for Switch owners, for sure.
Read our full New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review
9. Splatoon 2 — 11.9 million
Splatoon 2 takes the inventive gameplay from the original and ups the ante with more to do and a more robust single-player mode to enjoy. Nintendo often gets criticized for iteration, but Splatoon is proof the company still has wacky ideas up its sleeve. Splatoon first came to the Wii U, but again, hardly anyone bought that system, so many players’ first experience with the series was with the sequel, which launched in 2017.
We particularly enjoyed Splatoon 2’s Salmon Run mode — serving as a variation of Horde Mode from the Gears of War franchise, only with that wonderful Splatoon twist.
Read our full Splatoon 2 review
8. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! — 13 million
In 2018, The Pokémon Company and Game Freak weren’t quite ready to release a fully fledged RPG, so instead, we got Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! And the result was a wildly successful set of games — particularly because they served as remakes of the original Pokémon Yellow (which launched for the Game Boy in 1998).
These two remakes were sort of a proof of concept for what would later become Pokémon Sword and Shield, giving players a taste of the visuals, controls, and mechanics. But make no mistake, Let’s Go is certainly a complete package, with a 25ish-hour campaign and lots of Pokémon to catch, while borrowing some elements from the hit mobile game, Pokémon GO.
Read our full Pokémon, Let’s Go review
7. Super Mario Party — 13.82 million
It may not be the best Mario Party game, but Super Mario Party sure is one of the most popular. At nearly 14 million copies sold, this entry was meant to be a return to form after some of the disappointing entries that came before it. It makes use of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con motion and HD rumble, but its major new feature is that it’s the first entry in the series to support online multiplayer. The online mode doesn’t work as well as you might hope, but it’s a solid installment and is way better than Mario Party 8, 9, and 10.
Read our full Super Mario Party review
6. Super Mario Odyssey — 20.23 million
Ranking the best Mario games is a task that is quite challenging, especially since there are so many incredible installments across 2D and 3D perspectives. For some reason, fans sometimes seem to forget about just how good Super Mario Odyssey is. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, there’s no denying just how full of joy this game is.
From the new Cappy mechanic that allows Mario to take the form of many characters around each stage, to the wild level designs, the nostalgic callbacks to the NES, and of course, that over-the-top musical number (you know the one) in New Donk City, it’s easy to see why so many people purchased this one. Around one in four Switch owners bought this game, which is an impressive attach rate.
Read our full Super Mario Odyssey review
5. Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield — 20.35 million
Nintendo could pretty much put the “Pokémon” name on anything and it would sell like crazy. But the nice thing is that Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield are very good games, with new mechanics that pleased longtime fans and newcomers. One of its highlights was the new “Dynamaxing” and “Gigantamaxing” mechanics, allowing your Pokémon to grow to a gargantuan size temporarily during battle. The visuals are stunning, the quality-of-life improvements are plentiful, and it’s super fun to explore a Pokémon-themed version of the U.K. in these games.
Even if you aren’t a fan of how the additional Pokémon DLC was rolled out, it’s tough to hate this generation.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — 21.45 million
As it turns out, one of Nintendo Switch’s best games is also one of the top-sellers on the platform. You’re probably sick of hearing critics and fans praise The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but there’s a reason so many people love it. It’s remarkable in almost every sense — from a game design perspective, especially. The physics work in such a way that allows you to experiment and solve problems how you want, giving you the freedom to explore and figure things out in so many ways.
The subtle music, the cooking mechanics, and just wandering around the world of Hyrule are all some of its highlights — and when combined with the ability to climb nearly everything, makes for one of the best games on the system. And given how it doesn’t hold your hand much, it’s impressive how it still managed to sell more than 21 million copies. The fact that it was a launch title for the Switch certainly helped.
Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — 22.85 million
To be frank, it’s astounding that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate exists. It’s one of the most jam-packed fighting games of all time, full of memorable characters and fan service that makes it hard not to love. With nearly 90 fighters, including characters from every game in the series, this is the perfect amalgamation of Nintendo’s rich history. Smash Ultimate is a blast, whether you’re a newcomer or a long-time player, with tons of intricacies that lead to hours and hours of playtime. The wild thing is that this game is still getting additional content, even two years after release, making it a fighting game that keeps on giving.
Read our full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons — 31.18 million
This game is special. Not just because it’s a great, relaxing time (it is), but also because of when it came out and how it brought people together. Animal Crossing: New Horizons will always be remembered for helping many people get through the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It launched in March 2020, and for many, was a healthy distraction from the world around them — offering a vacation from the comfort of our homes. But above all else, it’s a joy to play.
Building your island from nothing to a magical, fantastical place is one of the most satisfying things to do in recent memory, and over 31 million other players seem to agree. This is a noteworthy entry because it managed to reach 31.18 million units sold in just eight months. Although New Horizons is not the bestselling game on the Nintendo Switch quite yet, it will likely reach that point around its first birthday.
Read our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons review
1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — 33.41 million
But of course, the bestselling game on the system is none other than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, at 33.41 million units sold. Around 40% of Nintendo Switch owners have purchased this game. The attach rate is insane, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a game that appeals to a wide audience, from casual gamers to core players, and even those who have never touched a controller in their life. What’s fascinating is that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a re-release, though its sales stats are counted separately from the original version that launched for Wii U in 2014. (The Wii U version is the bestselling game on that system, as well.)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a great game to have in your back pocket, as it’s easy for most people to pick up and play. You can take your races online, as well — where you’ll find much steeper competition. It may be surpassed by Animal Crossing: New Horizons shortly, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Read our full Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review