While I don't think 2020 would have been AS good for Switch, it would have absolutely been up YoY still. Animal Crossing was massive on the 3ds and there is no reason to think Covid alone is what made people hyped for that game. Also, if Covid-19 hadn't happened, many games that weren't able to be released in 2020 would have been released, further helping hardware sales. On top of that, the tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of total humans that lost jobs during Covid would have felt more secure in spending money on unnecessary entertainment like video games.
It's easy to claim in retrospect that the Switch would have still been up regardless. But prior to the pandemic, nobody was expecting massive growth, with many expecting declines and even optimistic predictions assuming relatively modest gains at best. For example, NPD's Mat Piscatella predicted the Switch would be down YoY in the U.S., and in the NPD 2020 full-year prediction thread on ResetEra, the average of all predictions was just under 6.4M, and the best prediction was 6.9M. It ended up selling about 9M.
Animal Crossing was a known factor in January 2020, and people made their predictions accordingly. While it was going to be a system-seller, it might not have moved quite as many units (or sold quite as well in and of itself) had there been no pandemic, and losses elsewhere in the year could have negated those gains. Instead of 1M in March, the Switch might have only sold, say, 750k, but had it dropped even 5% overall for the April-Dec. period, the Switch would have been about flat overall for the year. A 10% drop for that period would result in it being down. And every indication prior to the pandemic was that the Switch was passing its peak, with YoY declines imminent. Getting to 7M would have required either March hitting 1M even without the COVID bump to assist AC (an unlikely outcome) or sales for the remaining 11 months of the year to have been at least slightly up. Nobody was expecting anything like a >10% bump in baseline sales (for reference, the Switch's sales for the May-Oct. period were up 76.8% YoY last year in the U.S., way beyond what anybody could have guessed).
Also, it's obvious that the pandemic had significant impacts on consumer spending. There have been actual professional and journalistic articles talking about the increase in spending on at-home entertainment. Google should help you find articles talking about the general increase in demand for consoles and at-home entertainment in general during the pandemic, but here's some good places to start:
And it may sound counter-intuitive, but video games appear to be recession-proof, so even when unemployment is up there appears to be no negative impacts on spending on video games. Sales of game consoles (both home and handheld) actually increased in the U.S. during the 2007-09 recession. While a lot of people have been hurt by things like the late 00s recession or the pandemic, most were still gainfully employed and had money to spend. An unemployment rate of 20% means that 80% of people are still employed, and those that were unemployed due to the pandemic, well, they were still getting income (plus in the U.S. we got those stimulus checks).
Without the pandemic, the Switch wouldn't have sold anywhere close to what it did without the pandemic. You don't get the kind of growth in baseline sales it saw under any kind of normal circumstances. Deep price cuts sometimes produce comparable growth, but rarely anything of that level, especially if the baseline was already healthy to begin with, and no single game has ever done anything like that by itself. The Switch's growth in 2020 was due to outside factors, which is corroborated by the PS4 & XBO as both also clearly demonstrated increased demand, at least as long as stock held out. The pandemic resulted in artificially increased demand for game consoles. Simple as that.
I thought that I was the only one who always get confused with this narrative of increasing game spending. Overall Covid has hurted the income of majority of families so I don't see how people getting less money exactly relates with higher spending in games
I'm waiting for some report of overall increase in console spending for 2020 to give this argument any sort of credibility
I didn't see your post at first, but my reply is relevant to you, particularly the second half or so of it.