Forums - Gaming Discussion - Ideal month of launch for a console?

Best Month for Release?

March 6 27.27%
 
April 1 4.55%
 
May 0 0.00%
 
June 0 0.00%
 
July 0 0.00%
 
August 0 0.00%
 
September 2 9.09%
 
October 5 22.73%
 
November 8 36.36%
 
December 0 0.00%
 
Total:22

Many are speculating when PS5 and Nextbox will release.  Whether you think it will be 2019, 2020, or 2021 there is one question I have had ever since Nintendo had that great Spring launch.  When is the right time of year to release? 

 

Nintendo didn't have a previous gen to worry about destroying its holiday numbers since WiiU's numbers were irrelevant at that point.  So the Spring release worked for them.  I think if you're following up a successful console though like PS5 will be doing you should shoot for September.  Consoles need a huge initial bump at first to get a base for software.  So they seem to like to release DURING the holidays (November).  I think this misses some MAJOR sales they could accrue during their launch window.  There are going to be a massive amount of preorders for both of these consoles just like there were for their predecessors.  Things will sell out quickly.  Sony around 2m preorders if I remember right.  Why not get millions of sales in September and October and get all the big software day and date for that Fall THEN just when that's slowing down you get millions more as you resupply right as the holidays approach.  It's two big sales bumps right off the bat with WAY more time to produce.  You don't need to lump the holiday and launch bump together as the demand exceeds supply.



I am Iron Man

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Console manufacturers have targeted November for launch, because the historical sales data supported that that is the safest month to choose. A November launch results in month 1 and 2 of a console being roughly equal, so a good start is pretty much guaranteed. Any other month of the year as launch month results in a significantly lower month 2. November became the go-to month because the resulting sales created the most beneficial scenario; easy to point at the sales of the first two months to show that there's an installed base worth developing for.

October would be the second-best month to launch, but holiday shopping doesn't start until the latter half of November and a console being new also means that it's unreasonable to offer Black Friday deals, because you'd piss off the people who bought only one month earlier. With October as launch month you get a good October, a slumping November because of the first 2-3 weeks of that month, then a December surge.

If a console is properly conceived (price, launch games, post-launch release schedule etc.), then the month of launch is largely irrelevant because the installed base grows at a healthy pace in any case. But since there's no console manufacturer who can predict success or lack thereof with high accuracy, November is the month that gets targeted. Switch was originally supposed to launch in November 2016, but the launch got postponed because the release schedule would have had glaring holes otherwise.

Lastly, the sales numbers of a predecessor are irrelevant. Switch would have sold well regardless of what Wii U and 3DS still sold, just like the PS2 wasn't hindered by the PS1. Early adopters and late adopters of consoles are two very different demographics, so good late-life sales of one console cannot be the reason for a new console struggling.



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:
Console manufacturers have targeted November for launch, because the historical sales data supported that that is the safest month to choose. A November launch results in month 1 and 2 of a console being roughly equal, so a good start is pretty much guaranteed. Any other month of the year as launch month results in a significantly lower month 2. November became the go-to month because the resulting sales created the most beneficial scenario; easy to point at the sales of the first two months to show that there's an installed base worth developing for.

October would be the second-best month to launch, but holiday shopping doesn't start until the latter half of November and a console being new also means that it's unreasonable to offer Black Friday deals, because you'd piss off the people who bought only one month earlier. With October as launch month you get a good October, a slumping November because of the first 2-3 weeks of that month, then a December surge.

If a console is properly conceived (price, launch games, post-launch release schedule etc.), then the month of launch is largely irrelevant because the installed base grows at a healthy pace in any case. But since there's no console manufacturer who can predict success or lack thereof with high accuracy, November is the month that gets targeted. Switch was originally supposed to launch in November 2016, but the launch got postponed because the release schedule would have had glaring holes otherwise.

Lastly, the sales numbers of a predecessor are irrelevant. Switch would have sold well regardless of what Wii U and 3DS still sold, just like the PS2 wasn't hindered by the PS1. Early adopters and late adopters of consoles are two very different demographics, so good late-life sales of one console cannot be the reason for a new console struggling.

But I'm saying the only reason Nintendo could launch in Spring because they didn't have to worry about hurting the predecessor's holiday.  You can't announce a console in January and launch in March.  So you'd have to announce before the holiday which would result in a MUCH lower holiday for the previous console because most would simply wait for the next thing.  Also you don't need BF sales when it's still the new thing.  You're still lumping together the two major initial selling periods when you launch in November.  I think October is better than November because holiday sales will be as high as they would be for a November launch but now you've manufactured more and gotten a couple million install base to the hardcore out of the way.



I am Iron Man

From what I've seen, the Holiday season is the worst time to launch a console.

First, if your console is good, your Holiday season is going to be good. It doesn't need the launch boost factor. Likewise, if your console is good, launch won't need the Holiday factor, either.

More importantly, you won't suffer from the impact of both factors on your supply potential. If you're going to be constrained at launch then it's pointless to be MORE constrained. Launching early in the year mitigates that somewhat relative to BOTH periods, as you and your retailers have a chance to recover and restock. Otherwise, you're missing a lot of possible sales all at once during optimal sales windows.



I mean .. if we're using internet logic, March, so that PS5 can "destroy"  Switch and we can make an easy launch-aligned graph. 

If we're talking real world data, then obviously holidays. People have tried to claim that March had big benefits for Switch, but all it really does in it's favor is make holidays come at a different interval than other consoles, which makes it look like a net-positive on a graph. It also had to launch then because the Wii U was dead and the 3DS was dying.

But if you look at something like shipments, you see that the Switch took a long ass time to catch up to PS4's launch sales in shipment numbers. PS4 sold through 4.2 million consoles from late November to the end of December, Switch didn't even ship 4.7 million till late June, and that's a period of 4 months vs 1 month and a week and a half. 

Edit: To make this fact even more relevant, the PS4 didn't even launch in Japan till February 2014, and it still beat the Switch's first two months that badly. 

Last edited by AngryLittleAlchemist - on 03 February 2019

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Robert_Downey_Jr. said:

But I'm saying the only reason Nintendo could launch in Spring because they didn't have to worry about hurting the predecessor's holiday.  You can't announce a console in January and launch in March.  So you'd have to announce before the holiday which would result in a MUCH lower holiday for the previous console because most would simply wait for the next thing.  Also you don't need BF sales when it's still the new thing.  You're still lumping together the two major initial selling periods when you launch in November.  I think October is better than November because holiday sales will be as high as they would be for a November launch but now you've manufactured more and gotten a couple million install base to the hardcore out of the way.

You know that Switch is the successor to both the Wii U and 3DS, and the 3DS was far from dead in 2016. Nintendo introduced Switch with a trailer in November 2016 and it didn't hurt the 3DS's holiday sales, because early adopters and late adopters are two different demographics.

The other point is that a console manufacturer would have to be 100% certain of success to pick a month before November, but they are too afraid of the consequences in case of a less than ideal start. You are correct that a November launch wastes a portion of sales when a console is a resounding success, but said portion is commonly exaggerated. There's a reason why November became the prefered launch month of all console manufacturers. If things go better than expected, sales weren't maximised; if things go worse, you minimize the potential of negative news about a slow start. The sales that were missed out on can be quickly and effortlessly made back, but a negative reputation isn't as easy to shake off.



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:
Robert_Downey_Jr. said:

But I'm saying the only reason Nintendo could launch in Spring because they didn't have to worry about hurting the predecessor's holiday.  You can't announce a console in January and launch in March.  So you'd have to announce before the holiday which would result in a MUCH lower holiday for the previous console because most would simply wait for the next thing.  Also you don't need BF sales when it's still the new thing.  You're still lumping together the two major initial selling periods when you launch in November.  I think October is better than November because holiday sales will be as high as they would be for a November launch but now you've manufactured more and gotten a couple million install base to the hardcore out of the way.

You know that Switch is the successor to both the Wii U and 3DS, and the 3DS was far from dead in 2016. Nintendo introduced Switch with a trailer in November 2016 and it didn't hurt the 3DS's holiday sales, because early adopters and late adopters are two different demographics.

The other point is that a console manufacturer would have to be 100% certain of success to pick a month before November, but they are too afraid of the consequences in case of a less than ideal start. You are correct that a November launch wastes a portion of sales when a console is a resounding success, but said portion is commonly exaggerated. There's a reason why November became the prefered launch month of all console manufacturers. If things go better than expected, sales weren't maximised; if things go worse, you minimize the potential of negative news about a slow start. The sales that were missed out on can be quickly and effortlessly made back, but a negative reputation isn't as easy to shake off.

but even the less successful consoles like the One have massive preorders at launch.  If you have a successful predecessor you're guaranteed a million+ preorders at this point.  Also I don't think Nintendo would launch in Spring with a more successful predecessor and given the hybrid nature of Switch it wasn't exactly a normal successor to 3DS so that's a little different than cutting the legs of PS4 with a launch trailer.  Even rumors have hurt console sales and mindshare is important even if late adopter and early adopters tend to be different.



I am Iron Man

Robert_Downey_Jr. said:

but even the less successful consoles like the One have massive preorders at launch.  If you have a successful predecessor you're guaranteed a million+ preorders at this point.  Also I don't think Nintendo would launch in Spring with a more successful predecessor and given the hybrid nature of Switch it wasn't exactly a normal successor to 3DS so that's a little different than cutting the legs of PS4 with a launch trailer.  Even rumors have hurt console sales and mindshare is important even if late adopter and early adopters tend to be different.

The Xbox One tanked after launch. If it hadn't had the benefit of holiday sales, things would have looked even worse than they actually did.

The 3DS launched in February/March 2011 and succeeded the DS. I repeat that Switch was originally planned to launch in November 2016 and I add that the 3DS too was supposed to launch during the holiday season (2010). The spring launches of those two consoles weren't the desired launch windows by Nintendo. Those two consoles also demonstrate the risk that is involved. The 3DS was hurt badly by its launch timing and received an early price cut; Switch was fine.

The bottom line remains that the choice of launch month for a resounding success is virtually irrelevant, but everything else is better off with a November launch. If, say, Sony is convinced that the PS5 will be an immediate success, then they can go ahead and target a month other than November. In their case September would be ideal, because that's the month of FIFA. Pre-September wouldn't be a good idea, because the AAA industry is very much focused on the holiday quarter.



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

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

There is always shortages come holidays on launch year, and I feel it "wastes" some of the potentiall sales a holiday could bring.
Thus I think its actually smarter to launch earlier on in the year, say around April.

That way you get the launch boost effect (hardcore day1 buys) and have enough time to stock up again, for the first holidays.
Nintendo did it the right way imo, with the Switch.

Launch it early in the year, instead of at the end.
I think it leads to better sales, overall and early gen, stuff like that matters.



RolStoppable said:
Robert_Downey_Jr. said:

but even the less successful consoles like the One have massive preorders at launch.  If you have a successful predecessor you're guaranteed a million+ preorders at this point.  Also I don't think Nintendo would launch in Spring with a more successful predecessor and given the hybrid nature of Switch it wasn't exactly a normal successor to 3DS so that's a little different than cutting the legs of PS4 with a launch trailer.  Even rumors have hurt console sales and mindshare is important even if late adopter and early adopters tend to be different.

The Xbox One tanked after launch. If it hadn't had the benefit of holiday sales, things would have looked even worse than they actually did.

The 3DS launched in February/March 2011 and succeeded the DS. I repeat that Switch was originally planned to launch in November 2016 and I add that the 3DS too was supposed to launch during the holiday season (2010). The spring launches of those two consoles weren't the desired launch windows by Nintendo. Those two consoles also demonstrate the risk that is involved. The 3DS was hurt badly by its launch timing and received an early price cut; Switch was fine.

The bottom line remains that the choice of launch month for a resounding success is virtually irrelevant, but everything else is better off with a November launch. If, say, Sony is convinced that the PS5 will be an immediate success, then they can go ahead and target a month other than November. In their case September would be ideal, because that's the month of FIFA. Pre-September wouldn't be a good idea, because the AAA industry is very much focused on the holiday quarter.

Do you actually think they could launch in September or October and NOT have big holiday sales?  Like that bump is gonna be there regardless



I am Iron Man