1. Your anti-handheld bias is showing again in your analysis.
Regarding my supposed anti-handheld bias, first off, Nintendo has regarded the Switch as a "a home gaming system first and foremost," and " a home console that you can take with you on the go." So, that's why I've been focusing my attention to other home consoles for points of comparison. Yes, it's technically a hybrid and thus has a handheld aspect to it. Yes, it's selling more like a handheld in Japan (we haven't seen a home console do these kind of numbers since the PS2). But handhelds are odd ducks when it comes to sales. The Game Boy had a weird life cycle, lasting a few years before even getting a form factor change, well after its initial peak, then getting a full spec upgrade with the Color, which the market responded to as if it were a new console (it was the same basic hardware, just improved, and Nintendo themselves consider it just another model of Game Boy), essentially causing a second peak near the end of its life. The GBA was a bit more normal, so nothing to comment on there. Then the DS comes out to initially poor sales, with the Lite being released some months later, causing explosive growth. While its curve was more typical to historical norms in Japan, in the U.S. it continued to have appreciable growth for four consecutive years, something that has never happened for any other Nintendo system; the closest points of comparison to the DS in terms of long-term growth would be the 360 & PS3, but even then the comparison isn't exact. The 3DS meanwhile peaked early.
But if you want to compare Switch sales vs. handhelds, then let's do that real quick.
See the charts I posted in my previous post? The Switch is definitely outpacing the 3DS by a very comfortable margin, but against the GBA and DS, it's not faring as well.
The Year 2 & Year 3 sales for the GBA were 23.5% and 26% higher than those of the Switch. The Switch is currently running an LTD deficit of nearly 2.9M units (with the systems aligned to their first full Q3+Q4 period). Just to keep that deficit from growing, the Switch will need to sell at least 7.1M units this year. As of the end of 2007, the GBA was around 36M in the U.S. (we never got sales for 2008 or later, but whatever it sold was unlikely to result in a final lifetime total higher than about 38M). If the Switch is to surpass the GBA and reach 40M, it's got some catching up to do.
Against the DS, the Switch did better initially, but that's because the DS had a weak start, as mentioned. Once you put the Switch up against post-DS Lite quarters, the DS has outperformed it considerably (only in Q4 of Year 2 did the Switch do better than the post-Lite DS). Overall, the DS sold about 8.2M in 2007, vs. about 6.5M for the Switch in 2019. That's 29.6% better for Year 3 for the DS. And the DS kept growing. Total Year 1 to Year 3 sales for the Switch are now only less than 700k ahead of what the DS did in the same time frame (and if you add in the 1225k the DS sold in Nov.+Dec. 2004, it's actually ahead of the Switch). Unless the Switch can manage 50% YoY growth this year, that deficit is going to grow, very quickly.
And to go back to home consoles (because they are still valid comparisons), the Switch is trailing the Wii by a lot. Total Year 1-3 sales for the Switch are running a 9M unit deficit against the Wii (add in the 1080k the Wii sold in 2006, and that deficit grows to over 10M). Just to keep that deficit from growing any more, the Switch will have to experience at least some YoY growth, no less than 9%. To close the gap and surpass the Wii, the Switch will have to sell at least 24.6M units between now and the end of its life. That's a tall order, if you ask me.
Because of how this forum makes it hard to break up posts with the block quotes, I had to section the rest of your post off into my reply and bold what you wrote. Apologies if that makes it hard to reply in kind.
"Nintendo did not drop support for the 3DS when Switch launched, so your claims hold no value because they are contradicted by facts that are easy to recognize when one does not subconsciously ignore half of the console space. The reason why the 3DS is highly relevant here is because Nintendo will not give up the low price bracket for consoles, so it's perfectly reasonable to assume that Nintendo will recreate a constellation very similar to 3DS and Switch when Switch and its successor are on the market. It also stands to reason that Switch will beat the raw sales volume of the 3DS in the post-successor phase because Switch is performing notably better than the 3DS during its time as a main platform for Nintendo."
Nintendo didn't drop immediately drop support for the 3DS, but then again the Switch almost certain was intended to be a replacement for the Wii U first and foremost. The 3DS was still doing decently during the build-up to and early months of the Switch (at least in Japan), so Nintendo probably wasn't too keen on treating the Switch as a 3DS replacement yet. In fact, 3DS sales continued on as if it hadn't been replaced, instead of experiencing the immediate drop-off that is the norm, showing that consumers didn't view the Switch as the 3DS's replacement.
That being said, support for the 3DS was already slowing down significantly in 2018 and was barely existent in 2019, so even if we treat the Switch as an official replacement for the 3DS as well, the 3DS did not have a ton of post-replacement support. Somewhat better than other Nintendo systems, but not by leaps and bounds.
Meanwhile, the Game Boy and DS saw support dry up very quickly after they were replaced. The GBA had better support than those two, but that's because Nintendo didn't initially plan on the DS to be a direct replacement for the GBA, as it was initially described as a "third pillar" to complement the GBA and GameCube.
"2. What your "interesting data" is showing me is that you don't realize how important software is for hardware sales."
Having a good software library is important, obviously. I never said it wasn't. Weak libraries relative to the competition have doomed many a system to poor sales. However, not every game is a system-seller, or at least not enough of one to make any difference that can be seen in the sales data. For every game that causes a substantial boost to sales (a boost that is almost always short-term; only a literal handful of games boosted sales for much longer than a month or two), there are countless dozens of others that did not move any appreciable amount of hardware by themselves. Even hugely popular games are not guaranteed to move a significant amount of hardware.
Also, games are only part of the equation. Pricing is at least as important, perhaps somewhat more so, as the overall quality and quantity of the games library (there are also other factors in play as well besides games and pricing).
"The reason why 2018 only really showed year over year growth in Q4 is because that was the only quarter in which Nintendo released new high profile software; this includes the launch of the fastest-selling exclusive game in US history. This in turn also makes Q4 2018 a challenging year over year comparison for Q4 2019, so where you see a problem in terms of growth, I don't see it because I recognize that yoy comparisons are always difficult when important software releases aren't on a 1:1 schedule each year. In Japan Switch was down year over year for most of December 2019, but people remembered that December 2018 was so massive because it had Super Smash Bros. Ultimate whereas December 2019 had none of that."
A full rebuttal to this will require a bunch of new charts, and a considerable amount of time to organize the data, create and format the charts, etc. It may take a while before I can address this argument. I have to work tonight so I might not have anything up until tomorrow at the earliest.
Since you haven't replied yet, I'll simply edit this post to put the charts in. Hopefully I'm done in time in case you do reply.
Here are some charts showing quarterly year-over-year changes for most major systems released by the Big Three since 1995. The PS4 and XBO were excluded due to how flat their sales curve has been and the lack of major long-term trends, which makes comparisons of YoY changes between them and other systems difficult (though I can add them if you want). The N64 and 3DS were also excluded as they peaked in their first year. I chose quarterly data as a compromise between yearly data, which doesn't give enough detail, and monthly data, which has more statistical noise (plus it's more data points to deal with).
Let's start off with the Switch and older Nintendo systems:
Nintendo systems have typically experienced a period of growth that declines and transitions into a decline from which it doesn't recover.
The GameCube is an exception to the "experiencing a period of growth" part, experiencing only two quarters of significant YoY growth, and those were non-consecutive (but were enough to propel total 2002 sales to be 40% higher than in 2001). The growth seen in Q1 2002 was likely a residual effect of the May 2001 price cut, as prior to that cut sales in the Jan.-April period of 2001 were quite poor, even by the GameCube's standards. That price cut's effects however clearly petered out after Q1 '02, with Q2 & Q3 being down. Then another price cut in September '02 cause the observed increase in Q4. From then on out, it was all downhill.
Also, with the exception of the DS, no Nintendo system has had more than five consecutive quarters of YoY growth, and once they passed that 4-5 quarters of growth, it was followed by a period defined by continued losses, with maybe a rare quarter seeing a small gain or being near-flat. And we usually see one good quarter that surpasses other quarters in that period, and after that quarter its a general downward trend within that growth period.
Even with the DS, we can plain see that even though the DS had 14 consecutive quarters of YoY growth (capped off by the Q2 2009 boost caused by the DSi), the long-term trend was clear. There was the initial explosive growth caused by the DS Lite, but then growth started to slow in the long term. Each year from 2007 to 2009 grew slower than the previous, and eventually gains flipped over to losses as the DS passed its peak and transitioned into the decline phase of its life. And for what it's worth, we really ought not to expect any system to ever do what the DS did. No system in the history of the U.S. market had such a protracted period of growth, and we shouldn't expect it again, even from the Switch.
Looking at the Switch's growth, we haven't seen explosive growth akin to the Wii or DS. It's good growth, but is more modest and akin to what the GBA experienced. We saw Q4 2018 experience a big boost (MK8 bundles in November + Smash in December), and then a general downward trend over the past four quarters, with Q3 reversing the trend for just that quarter thanks to the Lite. Q4 was up only 11% even with the hugely successful Pokemon S&S and whatever residual effects (if any) of the Lite. Yes, that was against the previous quarter getting Smash and a good holiday bundle, but still. If this quarter experiences only very soft YoY growth (no more than 10%) or is flat or down, then past trends suggest that we ought to see the Switch cease experiencing gains and start to experiencing losses, without it ever reversing the process. With no major hardware revisions on slate this year and no word of a price cut, it is entirely possible that the Switch will be down this year. And as I've mentioned, the later a price cut happens in a system's life the less of an effect it's likely to have.
Now, if we want to compare the Switch to Xbox & PlayStation systems, here you go:
The PS1 & PS2 experienced similar periods of growth that we've seen with many Nintendo systems. The PS1's Q1 1997 was way up over Q1 1996 because of the effects of the residual effects of the May 1996 price cut from $299 to $199; prior to that price cut, the PS1 had sales comparable to the Wii U's, with said price cut getting the PS1 up to GameCube-level sales (which is a huge increase). There was another price cut in April 1997, which kept average weekly sales growing slowly but steadily each month on through August, and then we saw the release of FF7 in September that sent the PS1 soaring to new heights. But going into 1998 we saw the gains start to slow, and after 8 quarters of YoY increases it flipped over into constant losses (only Q2 2001 was up, and only because of the very poor showing the previous Q2).
The PS2 saw a modest gain in Q1 2002 due to Q1 2001 still seeing shortages. It was the price cut in May 2002 that produced the biggest period of growth seen for the PS2, driving it to its peak. But by Q2 2003 the price cut's effects had worn off. Five strong quarters of growth, and then YoY losses. Q1 2005 saw some solid growth thanks to the PS2 Slim being heavily supply constrained in Q4 2004 and the stock issue not being resolved until January. Overall, the supply issues with the PS2 Slim caused 2005 as a whole to be up about 17.6% from 2004. But after that, the general downward trend continued. And even with the Slim, the PS2's sales never reached the sustained heights they did during the May 2002-Feb. 2003 period. Q1 2005 was great, and comparable to Q2 & Q3 2002 and Q1 2004, but that's as far as the Slim's boost went in producing strong sales. It simply didn't produce the kind of sustained YoY increases the cut to $199 back in 2002 did.
The OXbox, after being essentially flat YoY for 2003 as a whole, saw strong growth after its third price cut in April 2004 that dropped the system to $150. But that price cut's effects were strongest at the start, and, even with a boost in Nov. 2004 thanks to Halo 2, second-half sales in 2004 were not up by a large amount, and starting in Q1 2005 it was sustaining continued YoY losses.
The 360 is where things start to deviate a bit. It was already starting to experiencing some significant YoY declines in the April-July period of 2007. Then it got its first price cut in August that year, which, along with a boost in September & October from Halo 3, grew sales for the rest of the year. But Q1 2008 was only barely up (+3.5%), and Q2 was only up as much as it was because of the poor Q2 2007. So, the first price cut (and Halo 3) produced an obvious boost for only two quarters. A second round of price cuts in Q3 2008 produced another short-lived boost that only affected Q4, and only modestly; the net effect of the changes in 2008 was for the year's total sales being up only 2.5%. The 360 struggled to maintain any significant growth for a long time, and as a result the 2007-2009 period was essentially flat. It wasn't until the 360S that we saw the 360 experience any sort of strong, sustained growth. Starting in Q2 2010, we saw five consecutive quarters of YoY growth, with Q3 experiencing the largest gains. After Q3 2010, the gains started to shrink, and started flipping over to continued losses in Q3 2011. Only Q4 2011 experienced a YoY boost (and a small 6.7% one at that), perhaps because that was the first year where we started seeing big Black Friday deals, which were mostly unofficial at the time. (Side note: The reason I dismiss the idea that the Kinect had a long-term effect on 360 sales is because of those YoY changes. The Kinect produced an obvious boost for November, but no additional gains beyond that. The sales data suggests and is consistent with my belief that the 360S did nearly all the heavy lifting when it came to producing and sustaining a strong baseline in 2010-2011.)
The PS3 had two periods of strong growth. The first of those was a result of a very weak showing in the Jan.-Oct. period of 2007. The Nov. 2007 price cut that got the system down to $400 caused a big jump in the baseline, and Q2 also got a big boost thanks to MGS4 being quite the system-seller in June. By Q2 2009 the price cut's effects had worn off, but then the PS3 Slim was released in September that year, and it caused another period of sustained growth, with four straight quarters of YoY gains, and a 2011 that was more or less flat from 2010. But by Q1 2012, it was clear that the PS3 was passing its prolonged peak.
The trajectories of both the 360 and PS3's sales curves are clearly primarily a consequence of the timing and magnitude of price cuts, as well as slimline models that boosted sales. And the PS3 & 360 both had a very slow start to the generation, which is also consistent with them having a higher launch price (even adjusted for inflation) than the PS2 & OXbox; they were both more expensive at any point in their lives than their predecessors, which likely served to depress sales and delay their peaks (and I really wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't intentional in order to prolong the generation longer than the previous normal average of 5-6 years just to have systems that were decent generational leaps without being too expensive).
So, what does all of this have to do with the Switch? Well, the Switch is already much cheaper than the PS3 & 360 were at launch, especially after adjusting for inflation. The 360 & PS3 needed continued price cuts and newer, better hardware to produce growth. The factors that resulted in the PS3 & 360 having delayed peaks simply don't exist with the Switch, which has had a much better start than the 360. Meanwhile, the PS2 & PS3 had curves that more closely resembled the norm for Nintendo consoles, just with better legs because of better post-replacement support. It would be more likely for the Switch to exhibit behavior closer to the PS2 than to the PS3 & 360, with only one period of sustained YoY gains producing an obvious peak, and anything capable of producing any further growth down the road having a much briefer and possibly more modest impact. The longer Nintendo delays a price cut or a major hardware revision, the less impact those things will have. And once the Switch starts seeing YoY losses, we really ought not to expect a reversal of the situation. It's just not something that happens with Nintendo systems.
"Your other big paragraph for point 2 is an extrapolation based on the flawed reasoning of the first paragraph. The way you talk also leads me to believe that you tend to assume that Switch's sales curve will mimic the Wii's eventually, because it doesn't look like you believe that Switch could have a prolonged peak. Switch doesn't need to do more than 7m in 2020 to hit 40m lifetime. For all the talk about how imporant price cuts are for stimulation of sales, you don't have much faith in Switch despite it having yet to see a price cut. You recognize that the Lite's price doesn't mean much, so unlike someone else in this thread, you don't mistakingly believe that Switch got $100 cheaper in 2019."
Again, unless the Switch gets a price cut and that price cut does a lot to boost sales, then no, I don't see a prolonged peak. In fact, if there is no price cut this year I think we could very well see total sales for the year be down by at least a few hundred thousand units. And the longer Nintendo waits to have a price cut, the less effect it will have. Without exception, post-peak and/or late-life price cuts have relatively modest effects on sales at best. Once you get to a certain number of sales, cutting the price to provide long-term stimulation to sales is like squeezing the blood from a turnip. IIRC, the Wii had the previous record for longest gap between launch and first price cut, and that cut helped for all of four months (granted, that fourth month was stellar, but still, the boost was short-lived).
"3. Yes, Nintendo obviously expected the Wii U to become a success, otherwise they wouldn't have launched the console to begin with. But within 15 months after launch they knew what was up. On the other hand, Switch is 35 months old now, so those plans hold more weight, especially because so far Nintendo has everything done in accordance to reach that goal. Again, you talk about how important price cuts are for sales. Nintendo has managed to keep Switch's price at $299 for three years now and that makes it the first console in history to pull this off."
And as I said, I am willing to revise my lifetime estimates of the Switch upward if it A) gets a price cut, and B) the price cut does something substantial (because not all price cuts cause big boosts). And barring some significant sales growth or least no more than a very slow decline over the next couple of years, I simply don't see the Switch getting some long console life cycle. Even as well as the DS did, it barely made it past the 6-year mark before being replaced. Nintendo may plan on it having a long life cycle, but the console cycle is dictated by sales, and if the sales aren't going to make a 7+ year primary lifespan possible, it's not going to happen, regardless of what Nintendo may or may not want.
"The PS2 argument doesn't help your case. You say you couldn't get a console that is better supported than the PS2, but it peaked in year 2 nonetheless. We already know that Switch did not peak in year 2, so where does your strong pessimism come from? Mind you, this is not about Switch beating the PS2 lifetime, it's about Switch beating the PS4 lifetime. Switch is tracking ahead of the PS4 and I know you fully expect Switch to grow the gap against the PS4 in the fourth year too, but then comes suddenly the point where you must have the expectation that Switch sales will fall off a cliff because otherwise the numbers can't add up for a Switch finish below the PS4's lifetime sales."
The point of bringing up the PS2 wasn't meant to be about when a peak happened. It was meant to illustrate that, even with extremely strong support, nothing can prevent a system from passing a peak and entering a terminal decline phase. Simply having very strong software support will not delay or prevent a system from cresting its peak.
And regarding outpacing the PS4, I haven't posted any charts for them for quite some time, but here's one now:
For the Year 1 to Year 3 period, the Switch sold 17M units, while the PS4 sold only a bit over 15.5M. That's only 9.4% more Switches than PS4s. So, the Switch is outpacing the PS4 by a modest amount, if we discount the PS4's launch holiday (in order to align them more properly). However, nearly all of that surplus was from 2019; the Switch did slightly better in 2017 than the PS2 did in 2014, but slightly worse in 2018 than the PS4 did in 2015. And if we add in the PS4's launch holiday, that puts its total LTD sales at the end of its third full year (2016) at 17.54M, slightly ahead of the Switch's current total. And the PS4 sold more in 2017 than it did in 2016. For the Switch to sell as many units this year as the PS4 did in 2017, it needs to drop less than 16%. Looking to Year 5, the PS5 dropped by less than 2.8% in 2018. So, the Switch's 2021 needs to be no more than about 18.2% less than its 2019. This is certainly possible, but by no means guaranteed. I believe the Switch needs to convincingly beat the PS4 for the Year 4-5 period to beat it lifetime, much less reach 40M. If it only does, say, 11M for the 2020-21 period, I don't see it beating the PS4, at least not by any appreciable amount, and forget about 40M.
"You are sleeping on Ring Fit Adventure. Don't let its modest debut deceive you; it's a long term seller that will continue to perform strongly, and it was held back in its first four months because of supply."
And your evidence on its ability to sell a substantial amount of hardware in either the short or long-term is what exactly?
"I am not acting obtuse regarding the Dreamcast. It launched three years before the GC and Xbox, and the typical Sega console had a short lifespan; the Genesis is the only exception that had a lifecycle of more than four years before it got replaced. Even if the Dreamcast had not been prematuraly discontinued, it would have not been able to compete with the PS2, GC and Xbox for the majority of its lifecycle, because the sales data that is available for the Dreamcast has it at a pace that is pointing towards a short lifecycle."
I asked that this be held off for another thread since it's off-topic, but if you insist...
The SG-1000 debuted in Japan in 1983, same as the Famicom. The Mark III/Master System is just an upgraded SG-1000 (same basic hardware, just with a faster CPU clock speed and more RAM). So, the Sega 8-bit line ran for five years in Japan before being replaced. Gen 3 was short in NA because it took a while for Japan to get around to attempting to release their systems in the region, perhaps because the console market had experienced a total collapse in the region and maybe wouldn't have been ready for a new system in, say, 1984 (Nintendo even tried to avoid marketing the NES as a game console early on during its run in test markets). The NES wasn't given a nationwide release until Sept. 1986, with the Master System being released the next month. The Genesis showed up just shy of 3 years later.
So, Sega's only systems that didn't have normal lifespans were the two that were discontinued prematurely: the Saturn and Dreamcast.
I don't know why you're hung up on the release gap between the Dreamcast and the GameCube. The DC launched closer to the PS2 than the GC did in Japan, and much closer to the PS2 than to the PS1. So the release dates for Gen 6 were spread apart more than normal. So what? There was a three-year gap between the PC Engine and Super Famicom in Japan, but the gap between the PC Engine and Mega Drive was only one year, while the gap between the Famicom and PC Engine was 4 years. But nobody argues that the PC Engine/TG-16 belonged to the same generation as the NES and Sega 8-bit line. Gen 4 had spread out release dates as well in Japan, and even in the U.S. there was a 2-year gap between the TG-16 & Genesis (released in the same month) and the SNES. Those three systems were clearly competing with each other. Just because the release dates in Gen 6 were spread out doesn't mean the Dreamcast was actually still just Gen 5 and not really Gen 6. And even if the DC only lasted four years, it would have spent most of them competing directly with the PS2.
The Switch meanwhile launched closer to the PS4 & XBO than to the PS5 & XSX, and will almost certainly have spent most of its best years competing directly with the PS4 & XBO. Until such time that the NPD decides to start calling the Switch "current-gen" as a point of comparison with the PS5 & XSX, I'm going to continue to put it in my charts as a Gen 8 system, and I don't particularly care what anyone thinks. It's an NPD thread, the NPD clearly deems the Switch as being the same gen as the PS4 & XBO, and that's good enough for me. I've been doing this with my charts for three years and nary a peep, then one person decides to open a can of worms. Honestly, I just should have denied my argumentative impulses and ignored him. Would have saved me a lot of time.
And with that, I have to take a leave from this thread for a while. This has been incredibly time-consuming. Sorting the data, creating and formatting the charts, and especially writing out a reply has taken me more hours than I really wanted to spend on just a forum discussion. And I've probably made all the points I possibly can, anyway.
Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 08 February 2020