PS5 doubled Xbox Series X sales in Q1 2021, but Switch was the big surprise

With the new console generation comes a renewed interest in console sales figures for a lot of folks. The PlayStation 4 handily beat its rival, the Xbox One, in the previous generation in terms of total sales, and the question now is if Sony is going to see a repeat with the PlayStation 5 or if it will slip and let Microsoft's Xbox brand take the lead. While it's hard to get official numbers out of Microsoft in particular, a new analysis is giving us an idea of how each console performed in Q1 2021.

According to Ampere Analysis, the PlayStation 5 family of consoles saw a total sell-through of 2.83 million consoles during the quarter. That includes both the standard PlayStation 5 with a disc drive and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. In its financial results for the first quarter of calendar 2021 (which was actually the final quarter of Sony's 2020 fiscal year), Sony said that it had shipped 3.3 million PlayStation 5 consoles during the three-month period, so those numbers line up pretty well.

It's been harder to get a read on how the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are doing simply because Microsoft doesn't share sales figures for Xbox in its financial results. Ampere, however, estimates that Microsoft had a sell-through of 1.31 million units for the Xbox Series X|S during the quarter, and if that analysis is correct, that would mean that the PlayStation 5 family outsold the Xbox Series X|S by more than 2 to 1 during the quarter.

The real winner in the first quarter of the year, however, was the Nintendo Switch, which had a sell-through of 5.86 million units between the standard Switch and the Switch Lite. Ampere says that sell-through figure represents a 12% increase over the same quarter in 2020, though it does expect this growth trend for the Switch to come "under pressure" in Q2, because it'll be compared to a quarter from 2020 where stock was flying off the shelves because of the pandemic and the launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Ampere expects the Switch to keep outselling both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X through 2021, as it says the console "is at the peak of its sales cycle." Ampere also notes that it's difficult to get an accurate read on just what demand is for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S given supply constraints that aren't likely to ease up anytime soon. With that in mind, it'll be interesting to see if the PlayStation 5 can continue to outsell the Xbox Series X once supply catches up to demand.