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May NPD 2019

Forums - Sales Discussion - May NPD 2019

Bofferbrauer2 said:
Shadow1980 said:

I think I do. Let me check...

I have this, which also includes the N64, GC, and Wii U:

The Switch is still trailing the Wii by a considerable amount, but at the same time it's also far outpacing the N64, GC, and especially Wii U by a significant quantity. As home consoles go, it's Nintendo's second-biggest showing in the U.S. for the past five generations and is so far performing on par with the PS4 (and for Year 3 it's actually outpacing the PS4), which means it's only being clearly beaten by the PS2 & Wii. If it continues to experience at least 20% YoY growth on average for the remainder of the year and gets a big boost from Pokemon S&S, it ought to sell over 7 million units this year alone, far more than the 5.1M the PS4 sold in 2016. The last time a home console sold over 7M units in the U.S. in a single year was the 360 in 2011, and if the Switch does pass that milestone it will be only the sixth time on record a home console has done this (based on shipment data, the NES might have also accomplished this on two or three occasions). If I had to make a guess, the Switch will optimistically sell around 37.5M units, ±1.5M, which assumes 7M+ this year, only a modest 10% drop next year, a ~20% drop in 2021 and 2022, and the Switch's next-gen replacement coming no earlier than Q4 2023. Assuming my estimate of 35M the other day for the PS4 comes true, here's what the all-time Top 5 rankings in the U.S. could look like by time the Switch is discontinued:

PS2: 46.7M
360: 43.2M
Wii: 41.8M
Switch: 37.5M
PS4: 35M

Since I expect a high likelihood of the PS vs. Xbox race being much closer next generation, I don't expect either the PS5 or Scarlett to sell over 35M units individually in the U.S., though I do think they'll end up around 65M together.

Wow at those upcoming Wii December sales! But the rest of the year was already foreshadowing what to come: The baseline dropped a lot compared to the previous years, and it looks like Switch has a shot at surpassing the Wii in July and August, and most probably will surpass it in November.

And I would never have guessed that the N64 would have won the first holiday season against Switch and Wii...

Yeah most people don't realize just how insanely strong the N64 started out; the problem was it crashed and burned once the droughts kicked in, with most third party support having jumped ship, leaving it with an almost Wii U-esque level of software output.



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Bofferbrauer2 said:

Wow at those upcoming Wii December sales! But the rest of the year was already foreshadowing what to come: The baseline dropped a lot compared to the previous years, and it looks like Switch has a shot at surpassing the Wii in July and August, and most probably will surpass it in November.

And I would never have guessed that the N64 would have won the first holiday season against Switch and Wii...

Yeah, the Wii was down quite a bit for most of 2009. While it was up a good bit for January and February, it was down every month from March to November. For the whole March-Nov. period, it was down 40.5%. Even if you include January & February, it was still down 27.9% for the year by the end of November. Then December comes along with a huge YoY increase that causes 2009 to almost close the gap with 2008, with the year as a whole being down only 5.7%. But in 2010 the Wii started to decline very quickly. The Switch will probably never sell what the Wii did because of how well the Wii sold in the 2007-2009 period, but the Switch could have overall better legs.

curl-6 said:

Yeah most people don't realize just how insanely strong the N64 started out; the problem was it crashed and burned once the droughts kicked in, with most third party support having jumped ship, leaving it with an almost Wii U-esque level of software output.

Actually, the N64 had a rather modest decline of only 7.8% in 1998, though that decline did accelerate over time, with 1999 being down 14.5%, 2000 being down 28.5%, and 2001 (the GC's release year) being down a massive 54%, with the system having completely flat-lined in 2002. Also, the N64 was getting steady support from Nintendo & Rare and several third parties through 2000. The N64's problem was that the PS1 started to leave it in the dust, and that was because the PS1 utterly outclassed it in terms of third-party support, and that was a time when third-party games were predominantly exclusive to one system (multiplatform didn't start to become the norm until the following generation). Sure, the N64 had support from Acclaim, Activision, EA, Midway, LucasArts, and THQ, very few of those were titles with massive mainstream appeal, with wrestling games and Turok being about the only ones to perform well on the system. Meanwhile, the PS1 had Final Fantasy, Tekken, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Crash, Spyro, Driver, and a bunch of other games that never made it to the N64 (well, RE2 did get a belated N64 port...). Final Fantasy VII in particular was what propelled the PS1 to new heights. While the PS1 did see steady improvement from its initially dismal sales thanks in large part to being reduced to $200 in May 1996 and then to $150 in March 1997, it wasn't until FFVII was released in Sept. 1997 that its sales really took off.


The N64 did start off strong, running off of the strength of the Nintendo brand in America. It sold almost as much in the entirety of 1996 as the PS1 did despite only being available for the last 14 weeks of the year. In 1997, it sold nearly 4.5 million units, which still ranks among the best first full years of a system ever (only slightly behind the Switch's 2017 and the PS4's 2014). But the PS1, despite struggling out of the gate, had a lot more going for it in the long run, and once it had that big super-hyped killer app in the form of FFVII, it was all over for the N64.



Shadow1980 said:
Bofferbrauer2 said:

Wow at those upcoming Wii December sales! But the rest of the year was already foreshadowing what to come: The baseline dropped a lot compared to the previous years, and it looks like Switch has a shot at surpassing the Wii in July and August, and most probably will surpass it in November.

And I would never have guessed that the N64 would have won the first holiday season against Switch and Wii...

Yeah, the Wii was down quite a bit for most of 2009. While it was up a good bit for January and February, it was down every month from March to November. For the whole March-Nov. period, it was down 40.5%. Even if you include January & February, it was still down 27.9% for the year by the end of November. Then December comes along with a huge YoY increase that causes 2009 to almost close the gap with 2008, with the year as a whole being down only 5.7%. But in 2010 the Wii started to decline very quickly. The Switch will probably never sell what the Wii did because of how well the Wii sold in the 2007-2009 period, but the Switch could have overall better legs.

curl-6 said:

Yeah most people don't realize just how insanely strong the N64 started out; the problem was it crashed and burned once the droughts kicked in, with most third party support having jumped ship, leaving it with an almost Wii U-esque level of software output.

Actually, the N64 had a rather modest decline of only 7.8% in 1998, though that decline did accelerate over time, with 1999 being down 14.5%, 2000 being down 28.5%, and 2001 (the GC's release year) being down a massive 54%, with the system having completely flat-lined in 2002. Also, the N64 was getting steady support from Nintendo & Rare and several third parties through 2000. The N64's problem was that the PS1 started to leave it in the dust, and that was because the PS1 utterly outclassed it in terms of third-party support, and that was a time when third-party games were predominantly exclusive to one system (multiplatform didn't start to become the norm until the following generation). Sure, the N64 had support from Acclaim, Activision, EA, Midway, LucasArts, and THQ, very few of those were titles with massive mainstream appeal, with wrestling games and Turok being about the only ones to perform well on the system. Meanwhile, the PS1 had Final Fantasy, Tekken, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Crash, Spyro, Driver, and a bunch of other games that never made it to the N64 (well, RE2 did get a belated N64 port...). Final Fantasy VII in particular was what propelled the PS1 to new heights. While the PS1 did see steady improvement from its initially dismal sales thanks in large part to being reduced to $200 in May 1996 and then to $150 in March 1997, it wasn't until FFVII was released in Sept. 1997 that its sales really took off.


The N64 did start off strong, running off of the strength of the Nintendo brand in America. It sold almost as much in the entirety of 1996 as the PS1 did despite only being available for the last 14 weeks of the year. In 1997, it sold nearly 4.5 million units, which still ranks among the best first full years of a system ever (only slightly behind the Switch's 2017 and the PS4's 2014). But the PS1, despite struggling out of the gate, had a lot more going for it in the long run, and once it had that big super-hyped killer app in the form of FFVII, it was all over for the N64.

I wouldn't count the Switch out just yet, though it will probably need a pricecut or revision to do so. But it keeps up more or less with the Wii 2009 despite a game drought, so I expect the second half of the year be very competitive. And then of course, with Pokemon this November will easily surpass the one of the Wii in 2009. However, to keep up with the Wii in 2009 it needs more than just Pokemon, it needs a pricecut and/or revision of the Switch.

The N64's other problem was probably that it was really a success only in the US, with the rest of the world rather choosing Saturn or PlayStation. That situation certainly didn't help with publishers, and the N64 already had less due to having been forced to keep the cartridges (since the deals with Philips and Sony fell trough and didn't have enough time for a third try), so less incentive to port games to the N64.

And poor Saturn in the US...



Bofferbrauer2 said:

I wouldn't count the Switch out just yet, though it will probably need a pricecut or revision to do so. But it keeps up more or less with the Wii 2009 despite a game drought, so I expect the second half of the year be very competitive. And then of course, with Pokemon this November will easily surpass the one of the Wii in 2009. However, to keep up with the Wii in 2009 it needs more than just Pokemon, it needs a pricecut and/or revision of the Switch.

The N64's other problem was probably that it was really a success only in the US, with the rest of the world rather choosing Saturn or PlayStation. That situation certainly didn't help with publishers, and the N64 already had less due to having been forced to keep the cartridges (since the deals with Philips and Sony fell trough and didn't have enough time for a third try), so less incentive to port games to the N64.

And poor Saturn in the US...

The biggest obstacle the Switch faces in trying to catch up with the Wii in the U.S. is that it already has a massive deficit. Let's say it exceeds expectations this year and sells 7.5M units this year. That would put it at 18M units lifetime. The Wii sold a massive 26M units in the 2007-09 period, and if you want to add the two months of its launch holiday, that's another 1.09M. So, for the first full three years, the Switch would be running a deficit of 8 million units, and that goes up to ~9.1M if you count the Wii's first two months. From 2010 to 2014, the Wii sold another 14.66M, putting its lifetime total at nearly 41.8M units. So, from 2020 to when it's discontinued, assuming it's at 18M by the end of this year the Switch would need to sell another 23.8M just to tie the Wii. That's 9.14M more than what the Wii sold after its third full year. That means the Switch would, assuming it lasts another five years after this year, have to average at least 62.4% more sales per year for the 2020-24 period than the Wii did for the 2010-14 period.

I'm not saying it's impossible. But it's highly unlikely considering Nintendo consoles just don't have legs like what the Switch would need to have. I still think ~35M is the most probable median projection for end-life total sales, which is still a very impressive figure, enough to make it the new #2 Nintendo console in the U.S.



Shadow1980 said:

The biggest obstacle the Switch faces in trying to catch up with the Wii in the U.S. is that it already has a massive deficit. Let's say it exceeds expectations this year and sells 7.5M units this year. That would put it at 18M units lifetime. The Wii sold a massive 26M units in the 2007-09 period, and if you want to add the two months of its launch holiday, that's another 1.09M. So, for the first full three years, the Switch would be running a deficit of 8 million units, and that goes up to ~9.1M if you count the Wii's first two months. From 2010 to 2014, the Wii sold another 14.66M, putting its lifetime total at nearly 41.8M units. So, from 2020 to when it's discontinued, assuming it's at 18M by the end of this year the Switch would need to sell another 23.8M just to tie the Wii. That's 9.14M more than what the Wii sold after its third full year. That means the Switch would, assuming it lasts another five years after this year, have to average at least 62.4% more sales per year for the 2020-24 period than the Wii did for the 2010-14 period.

I'm not saying it's impossible. But it's highly unlikely considering Nintendo consoles just don't have legs like what the Switch would need to have. I still think ~35M is the most probable median projection for end-life total sales, which is still a very impressive figure, enough to make it the new #2 Nintendo console in the U.S.

It only sounds like a tough challenge for Switch because you still cling to your incomplete datasets that are the basis for all of your analyses. Since there's no NPD data for the NES and barely anything about the SNES, you don't even have complete data for Nintendo home consoles. The handheld market is something you ignore in general despite having a lot of data for it, I put that down to your personal bias.

Two major things that Switch has going for it are that it is Nintendo's only console and will therefore receive all of the software support, and the console covers both the home console and handheld market. You keep overlooking Switch's handheld component which lends itself to multiple revisions and therefore big factors to stabilize good sales momentum in the long term. After all, you always say how hardware revisions have helped Sony and Microsoft home consoles in the long run.

Why did Wii sales slow down so much? For one, it seriously ran out of software support from 2011 onwards, and two, it didn't get a noteworthy hardware revision. Chances are that Switch matches those 14.66m of the Wii from 2010-2014 with just 2020 and 2021 alone and with momentum like that it will be quite easy to make up the remaining deficit of 9.1m in the following years. Multiple Switch consoles in a household will become a common thing. All Nintendo handhelds have sold 20m+ units in the USA, so you should add at least 10m units to what you project Switch to sell as a home console.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

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RolStoppable said:

It only sounds like a tough challenge for Switch because you still cling to your incomplete datasets that are the basis for all of your analyses. Since there's no NPD data for the NES and barely anything about the SNES, you don't even have complete data for Nintendo home consoles. The handheld market is something you ignore in general despite having a lot of data for it, I put that down to your personal bias.

Two major things that Switch has going for it are that it is Nintendo's only console and will therefore receive all of the software support, and the console covers both the home console and handheld market. You keep overlooking Switch's handheld component which lends itself to multiple revisions and therefore big factors to stabilize good sales momentum in the long term. After all, you always say how hardware revisions have helped Sony and Microsoft home consoles in the long run.

Why did Wii sales slow down so much? For one, it seriously ran out of software support from 2011 onwards, and two, it didn't get a noteworthy hardware revision. Chances are that Switch matches those 14.66m of the Wii from 2010-2014 with just 2020 and 2021 alone and with momentum like that it will be quite easy to make up the remaining deficit of 9.1m in the following years. Multiple Switch consoles in a household will become a common thing. All Nintendo handhelds have sold 20m+ units in the USA, so you should add at least 10m units to what you project Switch to sell as a home console.

"Bias"? C'mon, man. When have you known me to be biased towards or against any of the Big Three? I always try to be as impartial as possible.

I do not think it is imperative that we include the NES and SNES when comparing the Switch to the Nintendo systems we do have complete data for. For one, those systems were supported for a much longer time than any subsequent Nintendo console, with decent amounts of software coming out even after their successors were released. Even Nintendo released some games for both after their successors were released. Meanwhile, the N64, GC, and Wii U had essentially no appreciable software support after they were replaced (in fact, the Wii U was discontinued before it was replaced), and though the Wii had a fair amount of games released for it after the Wii U launched, none of them were Nintendo games, and nearly all were party games or second- & third-rate licensed titles, so it doesn't really count as having strong late-life software support, either.

And Nintendo's handhelds haven't had consistently strong software support after they were replaced, either. The Game Boy quickly stopped getting games once the GBC was released (even though the GBC was part of the same hardware family). Support for the GBC dried up quickly once the GBA was released. The DS had only a handful of games released after the 3DS was released. The GBA was the one exception, as it did have some solid support until 2007 (though Nintendo's support was largely minimal), three years after the DS was released, but then again the DS apparently wasn't initially intended to replace the GBA. Likely because of these factors, the GBA had the best legs of any Nintendo handheld, at least in absolute terms, with over 8.6M units sold from 2005 to 2007 (the DS sold 6.37M from 2011 to 2013, while the GB and GBC flatlined the year after they were replaced). With no official replacement for the 3DS (the Switch wasn't intended to replace it), it's hard to gauge its legs as there's no viable reference point to make comparisons, through from 2014 to 2017 it was essentially flat so in relative terms it wasn't dropping fast even by Year 7. However, the 3DS has no more software support on the horizon, so its sales, which are already declining quickly, will probably dry up even quicker.

Seeing as over the past 20 years Nintendo hasn't supported either their home consoles or their handhelds once an official replacement is released, we shouldn't expect anything different with the Switch. Assuming the Switch gets an official replacement, we should see first-party support vanish quickly after that point. We shouldn't expect much from third parties either in the long run, as while it's gotten a few token titles of note, once third parties move fully to PS5 and Scarlett it probably won't even get that much.

Regarding hardware revisions, I am taking that into account. Typically, Nintendo releases at least one major hardware revision for its handhelds, and the Switch does technically have the form factor of a handheld, so you're right that we should expect a Switch revision, which the rumor mill suggests is on the way. The Game Boy had the Pocket and Color (the latter technically a replacement for previous models, even though it was just an upgraded Game Boy and officially part of the same hardware family), and what data we have shows the latter doing amazing after years of declining sales of the older models. The GBA had the "SP" model, which gave sales a solid boost for about a year (the March 2003 - Feb. 2004 period was up 19.8% over the previous 12-month period). The DS had the Lite, which caused its initially unimpressive sales to have a massive spike in its baseline (which actually continued to improved over the next three years), and the DSi, which caused a significant short-term boost. The 3DS had the XL and 2DS, which had no real effect on sales, and the New 3DS, which did cause a major but very short-term spike in sales.

So, what will the Switch get for its hardware revisions? A handheld-only "Mini" model with a better battery/lower power consumption so it'll last more than two hours? A higher-end model capable of higher resolutions and better performance in general? We don't know since Nintendo hasn't deemed it necessary to tell us yet. But I tend to lean towards conservative estimates for any system when projecting future sales, so whatever hardware revision(s) we get I am assuming provides a significant but relatively short-term boost. Is it possible it could cause a major long-term boost to sales? Sure. Do I think it'll do anything like the DS Lite or Game Boy Color? Not a chance in hell. I think a best-case scenario would be something more akin to the GBA SP, where the revision causes a solid boost lasting maybe a year at most.

Let's assume that the Switch continues to average between 25-30% YoY growth for the remainder of the year, plus an additional 500k for hardware moved by Pokemon S&S. That would put it at the 7.5-7.8M range, which I think is a solid upper limit. Assuming the Switch's hardware revision comes out in Q1 2020, I could potentially see maybe around 8.5M for next year as an absolute best-case scenario for next year, but if the effects are more short-lived we could see sales that are flat or maybe even down from this year. I'll split the difference and go with an even 8 million. Let's further assume that 2021 is the start of the decline phase of the Switch's life, but with a relatively modest ~20% YoY decline for both 2021 and 2022, with the Switch's successor releasing in 2023, causing sales to drop by 40-50%, and then sales rapidly flatlining afterward (2-2.5M tops for 2024 & beyond).

We could see a scenario like this:

That would be enough to just barely pass the Wii in the U.S.

But I consider that an absolute best-case scenario. Again, could it happen? Certainly. Will it happen? I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

Now, I will admit that, after looking back over my data, 35M as a median is indeed too low, though I think it is a good low-end figure for the Switch. We shouldn't expect it to sell significantly less than that. 41-42M is as I said the highest I expect it to go; I don't see it blowing past the Wii's lifetime total by a significant margin. So, that would mean 38M is a good mid-range estimate. Still about 3.8M million short of the Wii, but an impressive figure to be certain.



Shadow1980 said:
RolStoppable said:

It only sounds like a tough challenge for Switch because you still cling to your incomplete datasets that are the basis for all of your analyses. Since there's no NPD data for the NES and barely anything about the SNES, you don't even have complete data for Nintendo home consoles. The handheld market is something you ignore in general despite having a lot of data for it, I put that down to your personal bias.

Two major things that Switch has going for it are that it is Nintendo's only console and will therefore receive all of the software support, and the console covers both the home console and handheld market. You keep overlooking Switch's handheld component which lends itself to multiple revisions and therefore big factors to stabilize good sales momentum in the long term. After all, you always say how hardware revisions have helped Sony and Microsoft home consoles in the long run.

Why did Wii sales slow down so much? For one, it seriously ran out of software support from 2011 onwards, and two, it didn't get a noteworthy hardware revision. Chances are that Switch matches those 14.66m of the Wii from 2010-2014 with just 2020 and 2021 alone and with momentum like that it will be quite easy to make up the remaining deficit of 9.1m in the following years. Multiple Switch consoles in a household will become a common thing. All Nintendo handhelds have sold 20m+ units in the USA, so you should add at least 10m units to what you project Switch to sell as a home console.

"Bias"? C'mon, man. When have you known me to be biased towards or against any of the Big Three? I always try to be as impartial as possible.

I do not think it is imperative that we include the NES and SNES when comparing the Switch to the Nintendo systems we do have complete data for. For one, those systems were supported for a much longer time than any subsequent Nintendo console, with decent amounts of software coming out even after their successors were released. Even Nintendo released some games for both after their successors were released. Meanwhile, the N64, GC, and Wii U had essentially no appreciable software support after they were replaced (in fact, the Wii U was discontinued before it was replaced), and though the Wii had a fair amount of games released for it after the Wii U launched, none of them were Nintendo games, and nearly all were party games or second- & third-rate licensed titles, so it doesn't really count as having strong late-life software support, either.

And Nintendo's handhelds haven't had consistently strong software support after they were replaced, either. The Game Boy quickly stopped getting games once the GBC was released (even though the GBC was part of the same hardware family). Support for the GBC dried up quickly once the GBA was released. The DS had only a handful of games released after the 3DS was released. The GBA was the one exception, as it did have some solid support until 2007 (though Nintendo's support was largely minimal), three years after the DS was released, but then again the DS apparently wasn't initially intended to replace the GBA. Likely because of these factors, the GBA had the best legs of any Nintendo handheld, at least in absolute terms, with over 8.6M units sold from 2005 to 2007 (the DS sold 6.37M from 2011 to 2013, while the GB and GBC flatlined the year after they were replaced). With no official replacement for the 3DS (the Switch wasn't intended to replace it), it's hard to gauge its legs as there's no viable reference point to make comparisons, through from 2014 to 2017 it was essentially flat so in relative terms it wasn't dropping fast even by Year 7. However, the 3DS has no more software support on the horizon, so its sales, which are already declining quickly, will probably dry up even quicker.

Seeing as over the past 20 years Nintendo hasn't supported either their home consoles or their handhelds once an official replacement is released, we shouldn't expect anything different with the Switch. Assuming the Switch gets an official replacement, we should see first-party support vanish quickly after that point. We shouldn't expect much from third parties either in the long run, as while it's gotten a few token titles of note, once third parties move fully to PS5 and Scarlett it probably won't even get that much.

Regarding hardware revisions, I am taking that into account. Typically, Nintendo releases at least one major hardware revision for its handhelds, and the Switch does technically have the form factor of a handheld, so you're right that we should expect a Switch revision, which the rumor mill suggests is on the way. The Game Boy had the Pocket and Color (the latter technically a replacement for previous models, even though it was just an upgraded Game Boy and officially part of the same hardware family), and what data we have shows the latter doing amazing after years of declining sales of the older models. The GBA had the "SP" model, which gave sales a solid boost for about a year (the March 2003 - Feb. 2004 period was up 19.8% over the previous 12-month period). The DS had the Lite, which caused its initially unimpressive sales to have a massive spike in its baseline (which actually continued to improved over the next three years), and the DSi, which caused a significant short-term boost. The 3DS had the XL and 2DS, which had no real effect on sales, and the New 3DS, which did cause a major but very short-term spike in sales.

So, what will the Switch get for its hardware revisions? A handheld-only "Mini" model with a better battery/lower power consumption so it'll last more than two hours? A higher-end model capable of higher resolutions and better performance in general? We don't know since Nintendo hasn't deemed it necessary to tell us yet. But I tend to lean towards conservative estimates for any system when projecting future sales, so whatever hardware revision(s) we get I am assuming provides a significant but relatively short-term boost. Is it possible it could cause a major long-term boost to sales? Sure. Do I think it'll do anything like the DS Lite or Game Boy Color? Not a chance in hell. I think a best-case scenario would be something more akin to the GBA SP, where the revision causes a solid boost lasting maybe a year at most.

Let's assume that the Switch continues to average between 25-30% YoY growth for the remainder of the year, plus an additional 500k for hardware moved by Pokemon S&S. That would put it at the 7.5-7.8M range, which I think is a solid upper limit. Assuming the Switch's hardware revision comes out in Q1 2020, I could potentially see maybe around 8.5M for next year as an absolute best-case scenario for next year, but if the effects are more short-lived we could see sales that are flat or maybe even down from this year. I'll split the difference and go with an even 8 million. Let's further assume that 2021 is the start of the decline phase of the Switch's life, but with a relatively modest ~20% YoY decline for both 2021 and 2022, with the Switch's successor releasing in 2023, causing sales to drop by 40-50%, and then sales rapidly flatlining afterward (2-2.5M tops for 2024 & beyond).

We could see a scenario like this:

That would be enough to just barely pass the Wii in the U.S.

But I consider that an absolute best-case scenario. Again, could it happen? Certainly. Will it happen? I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

Now, I will admit that, after looking back over my data, 35M as a median is indeed too low, though I think it is a good low-end figure for the Switch. We shouldn't expect it to sell significantly less than that. 41-42M is as I said the highest I expect it to go; I don't see it blowing past the Wii's lifetime total by a significant margin. So, that would mean 38M is a good mid-range estimate. Still about 3.8M million short of the Wii, but an impressive figure to be certain.

While I think Rol's comments may be unfounded (at the very least, the pot calling the kettle black), I think your assessment is still off the mark. I've noticed that people who make a lot of charts are very bad about considering qualitative factors and often struggle to look at the big picture.

Let's back up. The question is "Can the Swicht beat the Wii in the US". The answer is obviously yes

  1. Nintendo Switch will have multiple SKUs
  2. Video game console lifespans have increased since the Wii
  3. Switch has seen YoY increases

Already, we can say, yeah, it probably will, but let's dive deep. We'll start by comparing Wii sales to Switch. I'm going to use Nintendo's official numbers. Yes, I know this is "The Americas" and not just the US but I don't think the buying habits of Canada and Brazil are going to throw this off much; it's good enough for an internet message board discussion. The Wii sold 48.64 million over its life. The Nintendo Switch has sold 14.01. Nintendo Switch has sold 28.8 percent of the Wii's lifetime sales in the Americas. Divide 2 (for roughly 2 years on the market) by 28.8 percent and you get 6.94 years to match the Wii's sales. WOW that's almost exactly how long generations are lasting. So if the Switch sells, on average, the same amount each year as its doing now, then it will beat the Wii out. Obviously there will be highs and lows and we haven't seen the system peak. We are seeing increases in April and May despite no major title out which is a good sign in the long run. 

Moreover, we know the Switch is going to have at least one new SKU, likely two SKUs given the WSJ's reports have been accurate in the past. This will increase sales far beyond what we have seen in the previous two years. These can have a big impact on sales. See the DS and the PS4 (something people always neglect in their analysis). "BUT THE SP". If you look at the SP, it accounts for 58 percent of total GBA sales in the Americas. It wasn't until FY 2004 (3 years in) that it accounted for the majority of sales and it wasn't until FY 2005 that it accounted for more than 90 percent of the total sales. Either people were upgrading or they were purchasing the cheaper original model. All that aside, remember we are comparing a system with one SKU to a system with multiple. There will be people who buy multiple Switch units and we've already seen that the consumer base is hungry for anything Switch related. It should be noted Switch released at a far higher price than Nintendo handhelds normally do. There is likely a market that will buy a Switch when it comes closer to $200 or even $250, but I digress. 

You bring up the is that Nintendo consoles tapper off towards the end of their lifespan which is another qualitative fumble. Let's consider Nintendo's handheld 

  • In the year the DS released (FYE 3/31/2015), the GBA sold 8.56 million in the Americas. It went on to sell another 8.26 million thereafter. This totals to 16.82 million units and accounts for 40 percent of total GBA sales
  • The DS sold an additional 4.8 million after the 3DS released. This is 8 percent of total DS sales in the Americas. 
  • The 3DS sold 4.14 million after the Switch was released which accounts for 16 percent of total sales. 

So if the Switch is going to sell another 8 percent of it's total sales after the next system comes out, then it's going to be enough to push it over the Wii in the US. For comparison, the Wii only sold 890K after the Wii U was out.

Lastly, as Rol pointed out, no Nintendo handheld has sold below 26 million in the Americas (Switch by the by is already over 50 percent of that). This is only because the 3DS. The Nintendo DS, GBA and Gameboy all sold over 41 million units in the Americas.

But I think the issue is as I've said in the beginning. Your assessment is granular and misses the big picture. Rather than trying to guess movement, just look at how past systems have sold. A difference between my analysis and yours is I don't have to read the tea leave to see how the Switch is going to do every year. If the Switch sells above your 7.3-7.8 range, that changes everything else. I just need to look at what it's doing now relative to the others and then consider other factors (revised hardware, longer lifespan, ect). This is where we are now. This is where we need to be. Can we get there: yes or no? The more granular you try and get, the more any error will compound. 

Sales all come from here: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/historical_data/index.html



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Known as Smashchu in a former life

Shadow1980 said:

"Bias"? C'mon, man. When have you known me to be biased towards or against any of the Big Three? I always try to be as impartial as possible.

I do not think it is imperative that we include the NES and SNES when comparing the Switch to the Nintendo systems we do have complete data for. For one, those systems were supported for a much longer time than any subsequent Nintendo console, with decent amounts of software coming out even after their successors were released. Even Nintendo released some games for both after their successors were released. Meanwhile, the N64, GC, and Wii U had essentially no appreciable software support after they were replaced (in fact, the Wii U was discontinued before it was replaced), and though the Wii had a fair amount of games released for it after the Wii U launched, none of them were Nintendo games, and nearly all were party games or second- & third-rate licensed titles, so it doesn't really count as having strong late-life software support, either.

And Nintendo's handhelds haven't had consistently strong software support after they were replaced, either. The Game Boy quickly stopped getting games once the GBC was released (even though the GBC was part of the same hardware family). Support for the GBC dried up quickly once the GBA was released. The DS had only a handful of games released after the 3DS was released. The GBA was the one exception, as it did have some solid support until 2007 (though Nintendo's support was largely minimal), three years after the DS was released, but then again the DS apparently wasn't initially intended to replace the GBA. Likely because of these factors, the GBA had the best legs of any Nintendo handheld, at least in absolute terms, with over 8.6M units sold from 2005 to 2007 (the DS sold 6.37M from 2011 to 2013, while the GB and GBC flatlined the year after they were replaced). With no official replacement for the 3DS (the Switch wasn't intended to replace it), it's hard to gauge its legs as there's no viable reference point to make comparisons, through from 2014 to 2017 it was essentially flat so in relative terms it wasn't dropping fast even by Year 7. However, the 3DS has no more software support on the horizon, so its sales, which are already declining quickly, will probably dry up even quicker.

Seeing as over the past 20 years Nintendo hasn't supported either their home consoles or their handhelds once an official replacement is released, we shouldn't expect anything different with the Switch. Assuming the Switch gets an official replacement, we should see first-party support vanish quickly after that point. We shouldn't expect much from third parties either in the long run, as while it's gotten a few token titles of note, once third parties move fully to PS5 and Scarlett it probably won't even get that much.

Regarding hardware revisions, I am taking that into account. Typically, Nintendo releases at least one major hardware revision for its handhelds, and the Switch does technically have the form factor of a handheld, so you're right that we should expect a Switch revision, which the rumor mill suggests is on the way. The Game Boy had the Pocket and Color (the latter technically a replacement for previous models, even though it was just an upgraded Game Boy and officially part of the same hardware family), and what data we have shows the latter doing amazing after years of declining sales of the older models. The GBA had the "SP" model, which gave sales a solid boost for about a year (the March 2003 - Feb. 2004 period was up 19.8% over the previous 12-month period). The DS had the Lite, which caused its initially unimpressive sales to have a massive spike in its baseline (which actually continued to improved over the next three years), and the DSi, which caused a significant short-term boost. The 3DS had the XL and 2DS, which had no real effect on sales, and the New 3DS, which did cause a major but very short-term spike in sales.

So, what will the Switch get for its hardware revisions? A handheld-only "Mini" model with a better battery/lower power consumption so it'll last more than two hours? A higher-end model capable of higher resolutions and better performance in general? We don't know since Nintendo hasn't deemed it necessary to tell us yet. But I tend to lean towards conservative estimates for any system when projecting future sales, so whatever hardware revision(s) we get I am assuming provides a significant but relatively short-term boost. Is it possible it could cause a major long-term boost to sales? Sure. Do I think it'll do anything like the DS Lite or Game Boy Color? Not a chance in hell. I think a best-case scenario would be something more akin to the GBA SP, where the revision causes a solid boost lasting maybe a year at most.

Let's assume that the Switch continues to average between 25-30% YoY growth for the remainder of the year, plus an additional 500k for hardware moved by Pokemon S&S. That would put it at the 7.5-7.8M range, which I think is a solid upper limit. Assuming the Switch's hardware revision comes out in Q1 2020, I could potentially see maybe around 8.5M for next year as an absolute best-case scenario for next year, but if the effects are more short-lived we could see sales that are flat or maybe even down from this year. I'll split the difference and go with an even 8 million. Let's further assume that 2021 is the start of the decline phase of the Switch's life, but with a relatively modest ~20% YoY decline for both 2021 and 2022, with the Switch's successor releasing in 2023, causing sales to drop by 40-50%, and then sales rapidly flatlining afterward (2-2.5M tops for 2024 & beyond).

We could see a scenario like this:

(graph)

That would be enough to just barely pass the Wii in the U.S.

But I consider that an absolute best-case scenario. Again, could it happen? Certainly. Will it happen? I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

Now, I will admit that, after looking back over my data, 35M as a median is indeed too low, though I think it is a good low-end figure for the Switch. We shouldn't expect it to sell significantly less than that. 41-42M is as I said the highest I expect it to go; I don't see it blowing past the Wii's lifetime total by a significant margin. So, that would mean 38M is a good mid-range estimate. Still about 3.8M million short of the Wii, but an impressive figure to be certain.

The bias I was refering to is your general neglect of handheld consoles, not something that has to with a specific manufacturer. Your bias was most visible when Aquamarine could only provide NPD numbers for five consoles and you agreed with her that the 5-10k units the 360 and PS3 sold each month were more important than data for the 3DS and Vita which sold many times more (well, not really true for the Vita, but the 3DS did a lot better than 10k units a month). There is a bunch of wrong assertions in your most recent analysis.

1. Switch was always meant to replace both the Wii U and 3DS, so the first party games the 3DS received from March 2017 onwards shouldn't be neglected because you didn't know that. The obvious highlights of late-life DS and 3DS first party support were Pokémon games that arrived after the respective successor had already launched. With the support you've acknowledged for the GBA, that makes three consecutive portable consoles in a row that have received first party games for about a couple of years after the consoles were replaced. Furthermore, with Nintendo now only supporting one console per generation, the transitional phase between Switch and its eventual successor can absolutely be expected to see first party support for Switch after the successor has launched, because the hybrid console business model comes at a relatively high launch price, so the predecessor's purpose is to serve the lower end of the market.

2. What's missing in your analysis is price, something that matters in the handheld market. Switch at $300 sits way above the historical prices at which handhelds sold well, so there's a good reason to expect a positive long term effect on Switch sales once the system is sold at or under $200.

3. You don't seem to be aware how long the Switch's battery life actually is. The comment about two hours is something that I'd expect from a troll, not from someone who attempts to do a sincere analysis. But again, I put that down to your bias against handheld consoles in general, hence why you neglect the portable component of the Switch and come across as uninformed. The current Switch's battery life is 2.5-6 hours with medium settings ranging from 2 hours 50 minutes to 5 hours 45 minutes because the battery life depends first and foremost on the demands of any given game; the majority of games get comfortably above the 4 hour mark means the current Switch is in the same area as the initial 3DS and Vita models were.

4. Expecting the Switch to get replaced about as fast as the 3DS was despite Switch being much more successful is far from a best case scenario.

Considering the factors revisions, price cuts and better first party support than previous Nintendo consoles to stabilize momentum for a more prolonged time - Switch being Nintendo's only console means more first party games, including more games from Nintendo's in-house teams that previously had to go back and forth between two consoles all the time - I don't expect Switch to lose steam as quickly as previous Nintendo consoles.

2019: 7m
2020: 8m
2021: 7.5m
2022: 6.5m
2023: 5m
2024: 4m
2025: 2.5m
2026-end: 1m

I expect Switch's successor to launch in late 2024. The above numbers are roughly my best case scenario. I think that adds up to 52m lifetime. But since not everything works out ideal all the time, my actual prediction is ~45m.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

VideoGameAccountant said:

While I think Rol's comments may be unfounded (at the very least, the pot calling the kettle black), I think your assessment is still off the mark. I've noticed that people who make a lot of charts are very bad about considering qualitative factors and often struggle to look at the big picture.

Let's back up. The question is "Can the Swicht beat the Wii in the US". The answer is obviously yes

  1. Nintendo Switch will have multiple SKUs
  2. Video game console lifespans have increased since the Wii
  3. Switch has seen YoY increases

Already, we can say, yeah, it probably will, but let's dive deep. We'll start by comparing Wii sales to Switch. I'm going to use Nintendo's official numbers. Yes, I know this is "The Americas" and not just the US but I don't think the buying habits of Canada and Brazil are going to throw this off much; it's good enough for an internet message board discussion. The Wii sold 48.64 million over its life. The Nintendo Switch has sold 14.01. Nintendo Switch has sold 28.8 percent of the Wii's lifetime sales in the Americas. Divide 2 (for roughly 2 years on the market) by 28.8 percent and you get 6.94 years to match the Wii's sales. WOW that's almost exactly how long generations are lasting. So if the Switch sells, on average, the same amount each year as its doing now, then it will beat the Wii out. Obviously there will be highs and lows and we haven't seen the system peak. We are seeing increases in April and May despite no major title out which is a good sign in the long run. 

Moreover, we know the Switch is going to have at least one new SKU, likely two SKUs given the WSJ's reports have been accurate in the past. This will increase sales far beyond what we have seen in the previous two years. These can have a big impact on sales. See the DS and the PS4 (something people always neglect in their analysis). "BUT THE SP". If you look at the SP, it accounts for 58 percent of total GBA sales in the Americas. It wasn't until FY 2004 (3 years in) that it accounted for the majority of sales and it wasn't until FY 2005 that it accounted for more than 90 percent of the total sales. Either people were upgrading or they were purchasing the cheaper original model. All that aside, remember we are comparing a system with one SKU to a system with multiple. There will be people who buy multiple Switch units and we've already seen that the consumer base is hungry for anything Switch related. It should be noted Switch released at a far higher price than Nintendo handhelds normally do. There is likely a market that will buy a Switch when it comes closer to $200 or even $250, but I digress. 

You bring up the is that Nintendo consoles tapper off towards the end of their lifespan which is another qualitative fumble. Let's consider Nintendo's handheld 

  • In the year the DS released (FYE 3/31/2015), the GBA sold 8.56 million in the Americas. It went on to sell another 8.26 million thereafter. This totals to 16.82 million units and accounts for 40 percent of total GBA sales
  • The DS sold an additional 4.8 million after the 3DS released. This is 8 percent of total DS sales in the Americas. 
  • The 3DS sold 4.14 million after the Switch was released which accounts for 16 percent of total sales. 

So if the Switch is going to sell another 8 percent of it's total sales after the next system comes out, then it's going to be enough to push it over the Wii in the US. For comparison, the Wii only sold 890K after the Wii U was out.

Lastly, as Rol pointed out, no Nintendo handheld has sold below 26 million in the Americas (Switch by the by is already over 50 percent of that). This is only because the 3DS. The Nintendo DS, GBA and Gameboy all sold over 41 million units in the Americas.

But I think the issue is as I've said in the beginning. Your assessment is granular and misses the big picture. Rather than trying to guess movement, just look at how past systems have sold. A difference between my analysis and yours is I don't have to read the tea leave to see how the Switch is going to do every year. If the Switch sells above your 7.3-7.8 range, that changes everything else. I just need to look at what it's doing now relative to the others and then consider other factors (revised hardware, longer lifespan, ect). This is where we are now. This is where we need to be. Can we get there: yes or no? The more granular you try and get, the more any error will compound. 

Sales all come from here: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/historical_data/index.html

There's a lot to unpack here, so I wanted to address specific things. Given how this forum makes it difficult to break up the quote block, I'll just copy & paste the things you said that I wanted to reply to specifically, which will be bolded & italicized.


"I'm going to use Nintendo's official numbers."

I prefer to use NPD data instead of Nintendo shipment data. First off, shipments do not equal sales, and NPD tracks sales, not shipments. Second, this is about U.S. sales specifically and NPD data pertains to the U.S. market, excluding the rest of the nations in the Americas. So, I will be using NPD data as I always do in these threads unless none is available.


"The Wii sold 48.64 million over its life. The Nintendo Switch has sold 14.01. Nintendo Switch has sold 28.8 percent of the Wii's lifetime sales in the Americas. Divide 2 (for roughly 2 years on the market) by 28.8 percent and you get 6.94 years to match the Wii's sales. WOW that's almost exactly how long generations are lasting. So if the Switch sells, on average, the same amount each year as its doing now, then it will beat the Wii out."

That's one hell of an assumption, as the Switch could already be well into the decline phase of its life well before it turns 7. Let's try a different metric.

By the end of its second full year (a 26-month period containing the launch period and two non-launch holidays, comparable to the Switch's 26 months of sales, which also include launch and two non-launch holidays), the Wii was at 17.54M, which was just shy of 42% of its lifetime total of 41.79M, and it was the least front-loaded Nintendo console of the past five generations (the N64 and GC peaked earlier and declined faster, and what data there is suggests the SNES did so as well; the Wii U did even have a complete life cycle, but had sold over two-thirds of its lifetime total by the end of its second year). Handhelds are all over the place. By the end of its 27th month, the GBA was at 15.44M, about 31.9% of its lifetime total. The DS was at only 9.14M at the end of its second year (another 26-month span), about 17% of its lifetime total. Finally, assuming it ends at around 24M lifetime, the 3DS will have sold about 35% of its lifetime total during its first 27 months.

The Switch is now at 11.97M. Now, if we are generous and assume the Switch is only as front-loaded as the DS, that means it would sell 70M. Now, I know nobody think's that's possible. The DS was an anomaly by all accounts, not only in how back-loaded it was and how late it peaked, but in terms of sheer volume at its peak. It's the #1 system ever in the U.S., and I doubt that record will be beaten. So, that leaves us with the others. If we generously assume that it's as front-loaded as the GBA, that would put it at over 37M, around my median projection. If the Switch beats the Wii, that would make it the second-least front-loaded system Nintendo has released in the past 25 years, with less than 29% of its lifetime sales occurring in the first 27 months. That's very optimistic. Possible, but still far from guaranteed.

"Moreover, we know the Switch is going to have at least one new SKU, likely two SKUs given the WSJ's reports have been accurate in the past. This will increase sales far beyond what we have seen in the previous two years. These can have a big impact on sales. See the DS and the PS4 (something people always neglect in their analysis)."

I mentioned hardware revisions, and as I said their impacts on sales have been highly variable. The DS was as mentioned a sales anomaly. It started off poorly, but the DS Lite kicked it into high gear, and its sales continued to improve steadily for several years after that. The DSi also caused a short-term spike, with the month of its launch pushing DS sales in the U.S. to over 1 million units, the only time on record any system passed that milestone in a non-holiday month. But as mentioned the DS was a freak of nature. It would be beyond optimistic to think that its inevitable hardware revision will do to sales what the DS Lite did for DS sales, even if only proportionally.

The PS4 Slim had only a very modest impact on sales in the U.S., and the Pro didn't appear to do anything at all. Not exactly the kind of thing the Switch would need to get out of its revision(s).

""BUT THE SP". If you look at the SP, it accounts for 58 percent of total GBA sales in the Americas. It wasn't until FY 2004 (3 years in) that it accounted for the majority of sales and it wasn't until FY 2005 that it accounted for more than 90 percent of the total sales."

The SP accounts for 58% of lifetime GBA sales in the Americas. If you look more carefully at the data, it largely displaced the original model (which was not outright discontinued). The vast majority of people that bought a GBA after Q1 2003 bought an SP. From Q2 2003 onward, the SP accounted for 88% of all GBA shipments in the Americas. Japan shows the same thing, as Famitsu & Media Create data (which track actual sales), show the SP accounting for the vast majority of actual units sold every week for the rest of the GBA's life. When a new model of a system is released it largely displaces the original, if it doesn't replace it completely (e.g., the DS Lite replaced the original model completely, but the DSi existed in tandem with the Lite, though it was the more popular model once it was released).

"You bring up the is that Nintendo consoles tapper off towards the end of their lifespan which is another qualitative fumble. Let's consider Nintendo's handheld [data follows]."

This is where looking at actual sales data comes in handy. I did mention that the GBA had decent legs, and was the only Nintendo handheld to do so. To copy and paste what I said in my previous post: "The GBA was the one exception, as it did have some solid support until 2007 (though Nintendo's support was largely minimal), three years after the DS was released, but then again the DS apparently wasn't initially intended to replace the GBA. Likely because of these factors, the GBA had the best legs of any Nintendo handheld, at least in absolute terms, with over 8.6M units sold from 2005 to 2007." That 8.6M accounts for 24% of lifetime GBA sales. It was the only one that didn't instantly crater when its nominal replacement (which the DS wasn't "officially" a replacement for the GBA) was released.

But look at the Game Boy Color. Based on the data I have, it sold nearly 17.3M units during its short life. It went from 6.82M in 2000 to 2.95M in 2001 (the year the GBA was released), a massive 56.7% drop. In 2002 it only sold about 60k units, meaning it was essentially dead less than a year after the GBA launched (I wish I had monthly data to see how quickly it cratered after June 2001).

Then there's the DS. After an astonishing run that produced over 38M units sold in the four-year span of 2007 to 2010 (the best four-year period of any system ever in the U.S.), it declined quickly once the 3DS was released. It dropped 55% in 2011, then another 48.8% in 2012, and finally another massive 72% drop in 2013. All told, DS sales from 2011 to 2013 amounted to only about 11.9% of its lifetime total. Going from 8.56M in 2010 to only 1.97M in 2012 is a rapid decline.

Looking at their home consoles, the Wii sold less than 5% of its lifetime total after the Wii U was released, even with the huge lifetime total, that still amounts to about 2 million units post-Wii U. The N64 sold only a paltry 2% of its lifetime sales after the GameCube was released. I don't have any monthly GameCube data past 2006, but it was already dying before the Wii came out, and NPD data suggests it sold may 200k or so in 2007 (it was at less than 11.6M by the end of 2006, while NPD gives a lifetime total of 11.8M according to a 2014 report; Nintendo shipped only 760k units to the Americas from April 2006 onward, with only 130k of those being shipped from April 2007 onward). At best, the GameCube sold 5% of its lifetime sales from Nov. 2006 onward. While the data I have for it may not be 100% accurate, the SNES may have sold 10-12% of its lifetime total from 1997 onward. The NES may have had the best legs of any Nintendo home console, with 13% of its lifetime shipments to the Americas being made from April 1991 to March 1995, though without proper sales data from Aug. 1991 (the SNES launch) onward, we can't get a more accurate figure. So, after the SNES, Nintendo home consoles stopped having any decent legs after their successors were released. They quite simply fall off of a cliff.

Unless the Switch has GBA-like legs, it will be unlikely to sell more than a few million units once its successor is released.

Also, with the exception of the DS, which took five years to peak, Nintendo systems released in the past 25 years have invariably peaked early, even after Xbox & PlayStation started to move their peaks to late in the gen last generation. The N64, GameCube, and 3DS peaked in Year 1. The Wii and Wii U peaked in Year 2. The GBA peaked in year 3 (assuming you count 2001 as a mostly complete year). Given the normal range for Nintendo systems, it's entirely possible that this is the Switch's peak year. And if it does peak this year, its chances of passing the Wii are almost nil.

Honestly, the Switch is a great system, and I'd love to see the it become Nintendo's new #1 home console/#2 handheld (I doubt anything will ever pass the DS again), but unless I see continued improvement through next year, I don't see it happening. Nintendo needs to knock it out of the park with the hardware revisions, and they need continued strong software support. BotW2 is a good start, but we need another mainline Super Mario game, maybe Mario Kart 9, and maybe even a "Pokemon Spear" ("now with National Pokedex!"), as well as other marquee titles and more mid-tier titles to supplement them. This will be especially important once all the big third parties start to focus their attention solely on the PS5 and Scarlett, since Nintendo will be dependent almost entirely on their own output after that point (though by time the PS4 & XBO are abandoned by AAA developers, the Switch's successor may already be on the horizon).

And with that, I think I've said all I can really say on the subject.



RolStoppable said:

The bias I was refering to is your general neglect of handheld consoles, not something that has to with a specific manufacturer. Your bias was most visible when Aquamarine could only provide NPD numbers for five consoles and you agreed with her that the 5-10k units the 360 and PS3 sold each month were more important than data for the 3DS and Vita which sold many times more (well, not really true for the Vita, but the 3DS did a lot better than 10k units a month). There is a bunch of wrong assertions in your most recent analysis.

1. Switch was always meant to replace both the Wii U and 3DS, so the first party games the 3DS received from March 2017 onwards shouldn't be neglected because you didn't know that. The obvious highlights of late-life DS and 3DS first party support were Pokémon games that arrived after the respective successor had already launched. With the support you've acknowledged for the GBA, that makes three consecutive portable consoles in a row that have received first party games for about a couple of years after the consoles were replaced. Furthermore, with Nintendo now only supporting one console per generation, the transitional phase between Switch and its eventual successor can absolutely be expected to see first party support for Switch after the successor has launched, because the hybrid console business model comes at a relatively high launch price, so the predecessor's purpose is to serve the lower end of the market.

2. What's missing in your analysis is price, something that matters in the handheld market. Switch at $300 sits way above the historical prices at which handhelds sold well, so there's a good reason to expect a positive long term effect on Switch sales once the system is sold at or under $200.

3. You don't seem to be aware how long the Switch's battery life actually is. The comment about two hours is something that I'd expect from a troll, not from someone who attempts to do a sincere analysis. But again, I put that down to your bias against handheld consoles in general, hence why you neglect the portable component of the Switch and come across as uninformed. The current Switch's battery life is 2.5-6 hours with medium settings ranging from 2 hours 50 minutes to 5 hours 45 minutes because the battery life depends first and foremost on the demands of any given game; the majority of games get comfortably above the 4 hour mark means the current Switch is in the same area as the initial 3DS and Vita models were.

4. Expecting the Switch to get replaced about as fast as the 3DS was despite Switch being much more successful is far from a best case scenario.

Considering the factors revisions, price cuts and better first party support than previous Nintendo consoles to stabilize momentum for a more prolonged time - Switch being Nintendo's only console means more first party games, including more games from Nintendo's in-house teams that previously had to go back and forth between two consoles all the time - I don't expect Switch to lose steam as quickly as previous Nintendo consoles.

2019: 7m
2020: 8m
2021: 7.5m
2022: 6.5m
2023: 5m
2024: 4m
2025: 2.5m
2026-end: 1m

I expect Switch's successor to launch in late 2024. The above numbers are roughly my best case scenario. I think that adds up to 52m lifetime. But since not everything works out ideal all the time, my actual prediction is ~45m.

(Note: Same format as previous post.)

"The bias I was refering to is your general neglect of handheld consoles, not something that has to with a specific manufacturer."

Well, I went ahead and addressed handhelds in my previous post. The Switch isn't a pure handheld, though, but it wouldn't surprise me if a lower-cost handheld-only model was released in the future.

"Your bias was most visible when Aquamarine could only provide NPD numbers for five consoles and you agreed with her that the 5-10k units the 360 and PS3 sold each month were more important than data for the 3DS and Vita which sold many times more (well, not really true for the Vita, but the 3DS did a lot better than 10k units a month)."

When did I do this? I don't recall it. I do recall asking for 3DS data in the past since we're missing a lot of months from 2017 & 2018 (and I think we've gotten only one month for 2019 so far), and I have made charts comparing the Switch to the 3DS in other NPD threads. If I did have that exchange with Aquamarine, well, you must have a much better memory than I do if you can remember what I did better than I do.

"Switch was always meant to replace both the Wii U and 3DS."

Not officially. A per Reggie himself:


"3DS has a long life in front of it. We’ve already announced games that will be launching in the first couple quarters of this year. There are a number of big games coming. And in our view, the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Switch are going to live side-by-side. You’re going to be meeting different price points, you’re going to be meeting different types of consumers, you’re going to have the newest, freshest content available on Nintendo Switch, you’ve got a thousand-game library available on Nintendo 3DS, plus some key new ones coming. They’re going to coexist just fine. We’ve done this before, managing two different systems."

"I think there’s a sense that Nintendo Switch is a portable device. It is portable. But at its heart, it’s a home console that you can take with you on the go."


And the market responded to it as if it weren't a direct replacement for the 3DS. Based on the partial data we do have, 2017 doesn't appear to have experienced a massive drop-off like what we saw with the DS in 2011, or the GBA in 2005, or the GBC in 2001. Even 2018 seems to have experienced only a modest decline (VGC pegs it at -26%, which seems plausible given the limited NPD data indicates sales that were slightly up earlier in the year, modestly down in the summer, but down a good bit in the last third of the year). 2019 seems to be the point where the 3DS is finally starting to accelerate in its decline. Even looking to Japan, where the Switch is selling more like we'd expect from a handheld, we didn't see the 3DS experience a major drop-off, at least not right away; it didn't start to experience any consistent and major declines until November 2017. Overall, the 3DS's decline is more gradual than we'd normally expect from a system that has been officially replaced. It's decline more closely mirrors what we've seen of the Vita in Japan, which never had a successor and only declined gradually before starting to run out of gas entirely as support dried up.

"What's missing in your analysis is price, something that matters in the handheld market."

I do think a lower-cost (~$200) handheld-only model is likely. But do I think it'll be guaranteed to propel the Switch well beyond the Wii? I don't know about that. I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. I still think a best-case scenario would be a statistical tie with the Wii, though I would love to be proven wrong if and when we see a handheld-only Switch model released. Also, it wouldn't surprise me if at some point the standard model Switch got a price cut, but I doubt it will be a deep price cut, which means I expect its effects to be modest.


"The obvious highlights of late-life DS and 3DS first party support were Pokémon games that arrived after the respective successor had already launched."

The DS getting Pokemon Black 2 & White 2 does not translate to "good post-replacement support." According to Wikipedia's list of DS games, that was literally the only Nintendo game released for the DS after the 3DS was released. From April to December 2011, the DS had only 18 games released for it. 11 games were released in 2012, and only three in 2013. That's not very good support. The 3DS got good support for a while after the Switch was released, but Nintendo officially didn't consider the Switch a 3DS replacement. Likewise, the GBA continued to get good support after the DS was released, but Nintendo's original intent was for the DS to supplement the GBA, not replace it. Whenever Nintendo releases a system with the intent of it replacing another, the system being replaced was quickly abandoned.


"Furthermore, with Nintendo now only supporting one console per generation, the transitional phase between Switch and its eventual successor can absolutely be expected to see first party support for Switch after the successor has launched, because the hybrid console business model comes at a relatively high launch price, so the predecessor's purpose is to serve the lower end of the market."

Considering Nintendo's track record of rapidly abandoning a system once an official replacement is released, I'll believe it when I see it.

"You don't seem to be aware how long the Switch's battery life actually is."

As someone who bought a Switch on day one, I have to say that I do know. In my experience, I get about 2 to 2.5 hours of play time playing stuff like Smash, Zelda, or Mario. It is far more limited for on-the-go play than Nintendo's dedicated portables were. My 3DS can last me twice that or longer. That's why I think Nintendo's first big revision for the Switch ought to be a dedicated handheld model with a longer battery life. It's nice being able to play the Switch undocked, but it just doesn't last me long enough to bother taking it out of the house for an extended period of time. Depending on the games you play, you probably need a car charger for any kind of extended road trip.

"Expecting the Switch to get replaced about as fast as the 3DS was despite Switch being much more successful is far from a best case scenario."

Considering Nintendo systems still run on cycles closer to historical norms, I cannot assume the Switch will run for longer before its successor is released. I don't just assume breaks from precedent without good reason. There was a 5-year gap between the NES and SNES (six if you count the test market runs that began in 1985), between the SNES and the N64, between the N64 and GC, and between the GC and Wii. There was only a 4-½ year gap between the Wii U and Switch, though the Wii U's life was cut short. There was a 6-year gap between the DS and 3DS, between the Wii and Wii U, and between the 3DS and Switch. The GBA was around for only 3-½ years before the DS was released (though as mentioned Nintendo's original intent wasn't for the DS to replace the GBA, but it did have that effect as far as consumers were concerned). The only Nintendo system to have a truly long lifespan was the Game Boy, which, if we count the GBC as a Game Boy model (as Nintendo does), was around for 12 years before the GBA was released. Given historical precedent, I will not assume the Switch's successor will be out any later than late 2022/early 2023, and my projections assumed a Q1 2023 launch.

If Nintendo starts to run on longer cycles and can sustain it, that's great, and it could be what the Switch needs to surpass the Wii, but once again I'll believe it when I see it.

"I expect Switch's successor to launch in late 2024. The above numbers are roughly my best case scenario. I think that adds up to 52m lifetime. But since not everything works out ideal all the time, my actual prediction is ~45m."

So you not only think passing the Wii is a surefire thing, but that it could likely pass the PS2 and potentially even threaten the DS's record? Well, if there's one thing I can say is that you're a far more generous person than I am. I recall being accused of being too conservative for the PS4 as well, so it's not really in my nature to assume near-record sales.