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Forums - Sales Discussion - Console Gaps (A close look at them and if they can predict the release Nintendo's next console)

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With the release of the Splatoon 3 that gave the Nintendo Switch an extra second wind in it's lifespan, it got me thinking how long the Nintendo Switch is gonna last. Even with the PS5 and XBOX X/S starting to gain some momentum, the Nintendo Switch is still on top in sales. Many attribute the exclusive games, the portability, and the marketing for its success in its almost 5 years lifespan.

But as the Switch basks in its success, many are left to ask when exactly the successor for this successful console is gonna arrive. While people do enjoy the Nintendo Switch and what it has to offer, many feel that there is so much more that could be done with it that its competitors are able to take advantage of. One of those being the power to run high-tech games.  And while the Switch is in the lead in front of the PS5 and XBOX X/S, there is no doubt that it will eventually start to lose steam and pace behind them. The time of that has yet to be determined, but once it happens, it will probably be when Nintendo's next console will be fully conceptualized.

This is a situation that has been discussed in the past before. When a new console comes out as a response to the competitors success with its sales. But is this the only attribute to when the next console will be released?

I want to talk about Console Gaps, which is pretty much the time between the release of the previous console and the release of the next console. Some consoles have different release dates for different regions. For simplicity I will focus on the release dates for the consoles’ home country. So for Sony, Ninendo, and Sega consoles it would be Japan, and for Microsoft it would be the US.

Here are the Console gaps for the Nintendo Home Consoles for every generation:

NES - 2686 Days

SNES - 2041 Days

N64 - 1964 Days

Gamecube - 1840 Days

Wii - 2191 Days

WiiU - 1566 Days

Switch - +2035 Days

Here are the Console gaps for the Sony Home Consoles for every generation:

PS1 - 1918 Days

PS2 - 2443 Days

PS3 - 2660 Days

PS4 - 2455 Days

PS5 - +685 Days

Here are the Console gaps for the Xbox Home Consoles for every generation:

XB - 1468 Days

XB360 - 2923 Days

XBONE - 2545 Days

XBX/S - +687 Days

Here are the Console gaps for the Sega Home Consoles for every generation: 

MS - 1470 Days

GEN/MD - 1850 Days

Saturn - 1466 Days

DC - N/A

As you can see, Xbox 360 has the biggest console gap, followed by the NES and the PS3. And the smallest console gap is Sega Saturn, followed by the Master System and the original Xbox. 

Now what exactly makes a console gap big or small? Well, there is couple of reasons for these:

First is the Sale. When it comes to when a company wants to release the next console, they first want to see how well the current console does in the market. Why focus on your next big thing while your current big thing has potential to rank in as much as possible? 

Here’s a graph of the Microsoft consoles by console gap and sales:

There seems to be a correlation between the console gap and sales. As sales are big, so is the life of the console, with the 360 having both the biggest console gap and being the best selling and the XBX/S having the smallest with the lowest selling so far.

Now let’s look at the Sega consoles:

Note that I didn’t include the Dreamcast here because there wasn’t a console after it so it can’t be part of the chart. Just know that the Genesis had the biggest gap with the most sales and the Saturn had the smallest with least sales. Although it’s not exactly much telling as the console gap of the Master System almost matches the Saturn and that console made twice as much.

Now this doesn’t apply to all companies. Take a look at Sony:

If you notice with the PS3, while the PS3 didn’t make that much compared to the consoles that came before and after, it has the longest console gap.

Now look at Nintendo’s Consoles:

Now there is almost a correlation between gap and sales. Before the Wii, as sales of the next console were dropping, so we’re the time it took to release the next one.  And when the Wii came with big sales, the gap increased a lot, and when the Wii U whimpered with weak sales the gap was the smallest to try to release the next consoles for a big rebound. But despite the Wii having the most sales at the time, its console gap was no match to the NES’s.

Another factor into the length of the console gap is the competition in every generation. Sometimes with competition, if a competitor’s product is more popular than yours, you have two options: Either find new ways to get more customers, or focus on the next console to dethrone the competitor.

Let’s look at each generation of consoles

Third Generation

Fourth Generation

Fifth Generation

Sixth Generation

Seventh Generation

Eighth Generation

Ninth Generation

Looking at some of the graphs, such as Generation 3,4, and 6, the consoles with the most sales are the ones that last the longest. With NES beating out Master System, SNES beating out Genesis (although it did put up a hell of a fight), and the PS2 beating out the Gamecube and Xbox. Other graphs need a little more explanation.

For Generation 5, even though the Playstation was the best selling of its competition, the N64 was the one that outlasted its competitor. It is possible that this can be contributed by Sega's Dreamcast that pushed Sony to release their own new cutting-edge console: the PS2. Not to mention that even after the Playstation 2 was released, the Playstation 1 was still getting love and support with a new model leading it to last until 2006 before its discontinuation.

As for the rest of the generations after the 6th, they share a common thing. When it comes to Xbox and Sony nowadays, they want to release their next big console around the same time no matter how many units their current consoles are selling. They both realize that they are the rivals to each other, so when one plans to have a big console ready for the market, the other is gonna be in pursuit. And that pursuit is what usually allows them to last the longest. 

During the 7th generation, even though the Wii sold the most, it was starting to sell less and less at its later years 2011-2012. This was most likely due to third-party developers focusing more on the 360 and PS3 with their more powerful specs. Because of this, Nintendo had to make a new console soon, in order to win back the third party support, which didn’t exactly go as planned.

Now when it comes to the Switch it’s a little tricky considering that it’s technically a 8th generation console as it’s not a full home console, just being a hybrid. And the PS4 and Xbox One were still worthy competitors to the Switch during its early years.  But others like to consider it a 9th generation console, because it's a successor to the Wii U (an 8th generation console), and it is still selling well enough to compete with the 9th generation. So I’m gonna play both sides for this one.  I made two different kinds of charts so that the Switch is part of both the 8th and 9th generation. Here they are:

How this works is that for this version of the 8th Generation chart, the switch’s sales are what it made between its launch and the launch of the first 9th Generation console, the Xbox Series X/S. Same for the console gap. As for the 9th Generation chart, it’s between 9th Generation start and today.

The last chart is important to note as the Switch is still ahead of the XBX/S and PS5 when accounting for only its sales of less than 2 years. It’s even possible that it will be ahead of them by the time the PS6 and whatever name Xbox decides to call itself gets released. The last time the Switch wasn’t the number 1 console worldwide in sales was the second week from the 9th generation release. And there’s no clear answer to when the competitors will dethrone the Switch.

Now the big question is when would we likely see the successor to the Switch if we were to use these data to help us. Well the biggest console gap out of all the Nintendo consoles is the NES with 7+ years. That would place it to be released possibly in late 2024. But looking at how it’s selling better than its 9th generation competitors, it’s possible that it will come out further down the line. It might be crazy thinking, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if it releases closer to the release of the 10th generation from Sony and Xbox. So maybe something like 2025 or 2026. Either don’t expect to hear news of the next console so soon.

Now I’m sure there are plenty of other factors that might affect a console’s gap. I do want you all to discuss this so we can get a better understanding of our video game history.  

Last edited by 123tbones - on 28 September 2022

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It´s a good article, but have one problem: Where is the portable market? Half the market is not represented. Without the market, you don´t have the whole picture. Another nitpick: world distribution is a reality only with Psone and to Nintendo only after with DS and Wii. 

Yeah. I get what you’re getting at. My whole focus was with home consoles, but it would be make things clearer if I included the portable games as well. I might make post my take on that in the future. But thank you for the feedback.

Switch will probably be right around that X360 record.

That would have it released in around March 4th, 2025. That’s definitely a possibility and fitting for a launch window that’s similar to the Switch.

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trunkswd said:

March 2024 would be 7 years after the launch of the Switch, which IMO is the earliest we will see a Switch successor. Latest would be March 2025. So anywhere from 7 to 8 years after the launch of the Switch. 

Agreed. March 2024 - Q3 2025 is the gap of launch, I believe. 

Gap is likely sales driven. The Switch will be replaced when sales start decline significantly. Nintendo simply, no matter how much core gamers want an upgrade, has no motivation to push a Switch 2. The Switch is still outselling the competition, including the ps5.