I mean, it could. But it needs a lot of things to go its way in order for that to happen. A lot more than just a pandemic boost and a big game release.
High volume sales (DS) and a longer, more extended life cycle (PS2) are what it needs for it to happen.
Let's look at the hardware data thus far:
FY 2016 - 2.74 million (2.74 million)
FY 2017 - 15.05 million (17.79 million)
FY 2018 - 16.95 million (34.74 million)
FY 2019 - 21.03 million (55.77 million)
It's a pretty safe bet that this fiscal year is going to be the strongest one to date for the system. Right now, it has ~5 million unit lead over last year. If it maintains its current lead over last year, it would end up shipping 26 million units.
FY 2020 (estimate) - 26.03 million (81.80 million).
Could be more, could be less. The next 7 weeks of data should go the same as it has been, 2020 weekly sales comfortably ahead of 2019, to the point where it could extend its lead to ~6 million. Then, Week 38 will mark the release of the Nintendo Switch Lite from last year, then from there, who knows how the rest of the year will shape out. Time will tell, but for now that's what I'm going with.
After March 31, 2021, it becomes a really big question mark. We have know idea what Nintendo's release schedule looks like beyond this year and what their plans are other than how they repeatedly insist on giving the Switch a long life cycle.
How they intend to support the Switch and for how long remains to be seen. But it's safe to assume the Switch is going to sticking around for a long while. The good thing is that Nintendo still has a number of cards they can play: 1-2 hardware revisions, (Switch Pro, Switch TV, etc.), 1-2 price cuts ($199/$249 when sales start to dip; Then $99/$199 when they're about to launch Switch 2 and they can use the current models as budget, low entry systems, a la 3DS 2017-2019), number of big A-S tier titles that can still move hardware (Breath of the Wild 2, the next 3D Mario game, Pokemon Gen 9, etc.). They're in a very fortunate and enviable position in the middle of the Switch's 4th year that not even Sony was in with the PS4, which already had a price cut and TWO hardware revisions (Slim and Pro) before it even finished its 3rd year. It's intriguing that with how extremely well the Switch has sold within the time frame it has, it may still have more gas left in the tank than most other systems at this point.
But Nintendo will really need to step up their game on all fronts AND need some help from 3rd parties to make it happen. As incredibly well as Animal Crossing has sold at this point, in particular in Japan, have no doubt that a new Monster Hunter game on Switch would reach similar levels in that region, as well as worldwide (+/- than MH World) if Capcom got off their ass and stopped letting that money train pass them by. But that's for another time.
I mentioned early how Nintendo still had plenty of A and S tier titles like Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, at their disposal. But just those games alone are not going to be enough. They need a lot more than that. They need to continue to make new IPs like they have to appeal to different audiences with different tastes, maybe find a sleeper hit that can have killer app potential (Ring Fit, and what Labo was supposed to be.) I also think they need to dig deeper into their back catalogue of old games that haven't had a chance to really sell in this era. As great of a sales monster that Mario Kart has become, I'm very confident that if they really put the effort into making a great new F-Zero game with online, a story, and above all, customization to really appeal to that Gran Turismo/Forza crowd. There's a lot of untapped potential in many of their franchises that can be realized if they really make a serious effort to capitalize on it. Just look at Fire Emblem, Xenoblade, and Animal Crossing. Fire Emblem was on its deathbed before Awakening took off the way it did. Xenoblade (and Monolith Soft in general) wasn't gaining much traction before XC2 raised the bar, now Monolith has quickly become Nintendo's most reliable subsidiary and Xenoblade is well on its way to greater heights. And Animal Crossing just speaks for itself. If they want to pull it off, they need all hands on deck. And I do mean, ALL hands on deck.
Right now, I envision the Switch's sales trajectory from this point onwards going like this:
FY 2020 (estimate) - 26.03 million (81.80 million)
FY 2021 (estimate) - 22 million (103.80 million)
FY 2022 (estimate) - 17 million (120.80 million)
FY 2023 (estimate) - 12 million (132.80 million) - Switch 2 launch
FY 2024 (estimate) - 5 million (137.80 million)
FY 2025 (estimate) - 2 million (139.80 million)
FY 2026 onwards (estimate) - 0.5 million (140.30 million)
Hypothetically, this would still leave it 15-18 million units short of the PS2 (Sony has it at more 155 million as of March 2012; VGChartz currently has it at 157.68 million. I have no idea what the actual number is.)
So as I said in my original post - Highly unlikely.
It needs a lot of things to go its way just for it to have a chance.Last edited by PAOerfulone - on 03 August 2020
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