Forums - Sales Discussion - Predicting Switch sales

I was wondering recently what Switch's future YOY sales might look like. Of course there's no way anyone could predict that with any degree of certainty, but because we already know Switch's first year sales numbers, I thought, why not to take that number and calculate total sales against known sales curves of previous Nintendo systems. By no means it has any scientific purpose. It's more like "what-if" game, if you will, so don't take it too seriously. 

The data represents recurring sales over a period of 52/53 weeks (depends on a year), since launch(s) and their percentages. I've decided to go back as far as gen 4 as I think VGC DB doesn't have enough Nintendo systems to see any clear sales patterns or calculate averages. Gen 4, 5 and 6 numbers are rough calendar estimation of annual shipments, based on Nintendo's reports. I split them into weekly figures and shifted accordingly to match launch dates, so they won't be super accurate, but good enough for the purpose of this activity. 

  SNES N64 GBA GCN DS Wii 3DS WiiU
Year 1 48% 100% 100% 100% 30% 68% 100% 100%
Year 2 90% 84% 90% 62% 68% 100% 94% 94%
Year 3 100% 70% 99% 87% 92% 93% 97% 90%
Year 4 59% 41% 89% 54% 97% 90% 68% 71%
Year 5 44% 23% 50% 32% 100% 69% 50% 8%
Year 6 36% 2% 26% 8% 82% 37% 53% 1%


 
As you can see, generally Nintendo consoles split into two categories. The ones which have had their peaks in year 1 and those which haven't.

  N64 GCN GBA 3DS WiiU   DS SNES Wii
Year 1 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%   30% 48% 68%
Year 2 84% 62% 90% 94% 94%   68% 90% 100%
Year 3 70% 87% 99% 97% 90%   92% 100% 93%
Year 4 41% 54% 89% 68% 71%   97% 59% 90%
Year 5 23% 32% 50% 50% 8%   100% 44% 69%
Year 6 2% 8% 26% 53% 1%   82% 36% 37%

Let's put Switch's first year figure (around 15.3M) in that table and see what we're going to end up with, if Switch follows the same sales curves.

  N64 GCN GBA 3DS WiiU   DS SNES Wii
Year 1 15.3M 15.3M 15.3M 15.3M 15.3M   15.3M 15.3M 15.3M
Year 2 12.9M 9.5M 13.8M 14.5M 14.4M   24.7M 26.5M 22.4M
Year 3 10.7M 13.4M 15.2M 14.8M 13.8M   40.1M 31.8M 20.3M
Year 4 6.3M 8.2M 13.6M 10.5M 10.8M   46.8M 17.1M 19.7M
Year 5 3.6M 4.8M 7.6M 7.7M 1.2M   50.8M 14.8M 15.5M
Year 6 0.3M 1.2M 4.0M 8.2M 0.2M   31.8M 13.7M 11.7M
TOTAL 49.2M 52.5M 69.5M 70.9M 55.7M 209.5M 119.2M 104.9M

OK, let's round up the averages for those two groups and add Switch to the equation.

  GR1 GR2   GR1 GR2
Year 1 100% 50%   15.3M 15.3M
Year 2 90% 90%   13.9M 25.6M
Year 3 90% 100%   13.9M 30.7M
Year 4 70% 90%   11.8M 25.6M
Year 5 40% 80%   9.6M 21.9M
Year 6 20% 60%   8.5M 17.0M
TOTAL       73.1M 136.1M

Based on that it's pretty much clear that if next year we see drop in sales, most likely, Switch's not going to be 100M seller (in first 6 years anyway).

So what do you guys think? In which group Switch is going to end up, or which curve is it going to follow?

Last edited by Kristof81 - on 05 April 2018

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Very interesting thought experiment. Of course, some consoles have been known to dip for a year or two and skyrocket because of new software. Look at the original Game Boy and Pokemon.



Thank you for the effort of putting this numbers together.

For me it is really difficult to predict how well the Switch will sell in a long run. Since it is getting obvious that the Switch is the successor of the Wii U AND the 3DS I could see them selling many units. Especially when Nintendo only has to produce their games for one system.



I would say that shipment data for Q2 and Q3 this year are more indicative of predicting the Switch's sales curve and whether or not it has any real momentum going forward ... (slowest half of the year) 

If the Switch remains flat or even just slightly down in those quarters then it'll probably be relatively flat this year for the Switch but even being able to peak in it's third year won't save it from the doom of not reaching the 100M unit milestone ... 



1. N64, GC, 3DS and Wii U received price cuts during their launch year.

2. GBA's potential was cut short by Sony's entry in the handheld market which necessitated Nintendo to act. GBA's first party support was focused on games that were quick to make as Nintendo's development focus was on home consoles.

3. SNES, DS and Wii did not receive price cuts during their launch year.

It's already clear that Switch does not follow path 1 or 2, so that leaves only category 3. The SNES had a very staggered launch (1990 in Japan, 1991 in the Americas, 1992 in Others), so it's not of much use in this analysis. Switch is set to fall between DS and Wii, because it has a fast start (Wii only) and a long tail due to continued first and third party support (DS only).

Your range for LTD sales through six years is 105-210 million, but Switch is certainly going to be closer to the lower end of that range, because the DS sales curve cannot be realistically matched by a console that got off to a great start; 40m+ peak years aren't going to happen.



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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Considering Switch didn't get a price cut in it's first year like most of the year 1 peakers, I really doubt Switch will fall off a cliff and sell less then in it's launch year. And falling off a cliff is almost necessary to sell less, because due to supply issues the baseline of the Switch was at least 50k below (actually closer to 70-80k, but I picked 50k to iron out the spikes) what the console sells now every week. 30 weeks worth of that gap and you already have a nice lead of over 1.5M, and considering the Smash release it's pretty clear it won't loose out during the holiday season either.



RolStoppable said:
1. N64, GC, 3DS and Wii U received price cuts during their launch year.

The Wii U never got an official price cut to my knowledge.



VGPolyglot said:
RolStoppable said:
1. N64, GC, 3DS and Wii U received price cuts during their launch year.

The Wii U never got an official price cut to my knowledge.

It was reduced from $/€350 to $/€300 in September 2013.



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

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

RolStoppable said:
VGPolyglot said:

The Wii U never got an official price cut to my knowledge.

It was reduced from $/€350 to $/€300 in September 2013.

Wasn't that just the Pro version? I think the standard version was already 300, and what they just did was discontinue that version and cut the Pro version to what that used to be.



VGPolyglot said:
RolStoppable said:

It was reduced from $/€350 to $/€300 in September 2013.

Wasn't that just the Pro version? I think the standard version was already 300, and what they just did was discontinue that version and cut the Pro version to what that used to be.

Yes, it was the Deluxe Set, but that was the only SKU that sold. The Basic Sets had to be bought back by Nintendo and got repackaged as Skylanders bundles and the like for a couple of years.



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

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