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Forums - Sales Discussion - Why are Nintendo Switch sales peaking much later than other Nintendo consoles?

I am sure that it has been covered, but the Switch is doing disproportionately well mainly due to the general increased atmosphere of fear that exists amongst the public over the past year. Nobody wants to play a zombie game in 2021 when you just need to look outside your door to see something that appears to be fairly similar. That said, there is something about Nintendo games like Animal Crossing, Mario, Pokemon that is innocent and provides people with an escape from the depressing state of current affairs. Nintendo is benefiting from the public looking for an escape from reality, as opposed to seeking a higher definition recreation of it. It is no different than if you were to go back and watch the movies made during WWII. Movies like "Going My Way" were very innocent and lighthearted films that took people as far away as possible from the war. 10 years later, however, war recreation films became extremely popular because it was no longer the reality that people faced.



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haxxiy said:
curl-6 said:

Yeah, no, the pandemic is just one  contributing factor of many, not at all solely responsible.

Yeah no, the pandemic is the sole contributing factor, others were not responsible at all.

See how your line of argumentation works?

I wonder how smart you felt when typing your reply..

There's no call to be needlessly rude.

To write off Switch's later peak as purely due to covid requires one to ignore a host of other factors from the cultural phenomenon of Animal Crossing New Horizons and the way it opened up the system to new demographics, to the fact it was trending upwards year by year already, to its ability to sell multiple units to single households, to word of mouth increasing with each Switch system making in out into the wild, to its monopoly on the handheld and hybrid market niches, to the fact Nintendo's portable systems typically peak later than their dedicated consoles, etc. 

Last edited by curl-6 - on 22 February 2021

Bet with Liquidlaser: I say PS5 and Xbox Series will sell more than 56 million combined by the end of 2023.

Shadow1980 said:
Norion said:

Both ran out of stock and both Sony and Microsoft felt it was more important to focus on manufacturing the new consoles than keeping up with the new increased demand for the old ones. Also the Switch was in the peak of its life while the other two were near the end and declining so the former had a much bigger boost potential since a lot of people who have bought a Switch during the pandemic will have already had a PS4 or Xbox One and a lot of people who had none of them probably picked the Switch over the other two since it was more appealing to them, for example a lot of the women who bought a Switch.

Pretty much this. It was the replacement year for the PS4 & XBO. There was only so much stock to go around. For example, Sony only shipped 6.2M units during the 2020 calendar year, with maybe a third of those going to North America. Combined with remaining stock from 2019, there was no way it could have continued selling what it was doing in the spring and summer for the whole year. Even without the pandemic, it still would have probably sold about the same as it did for 2020 as a whole (somewhere in the 2.1-2.3M range; we're still missing Nov.+Dec. NPD sales for last-gen). If Sony had doubled their PS4 output, they might have been able to sell upwards of 3.5M or more, but there was no point in doing so with the PS5 on the horizon.

As usual good post and analysis. I have said that all that covid did for the PS4 and Xbox One was move 2020 sales around instead of giving them a real boost since both sold more in the March-May period than the October-December period I think which is insane and likely unprecedented. With Sony and Microsoft sacrificing manufacturing of the old systems to help the new ones covid probably actually has decreased sales for the last gen systems in the long term so aside from it messing up their plans Nintendo got very lucky with the timing of this pandemic.

VAMatt said:
Norion said:

Both ran out of stock and both Sony and Microsoft felt it was more important to focus on manufacturing the new consoles than keeping up with the new increased demand for the old ones. Also the Switch was in the peak of its life while the other two were near the end and declining so the former had a much bigger boost potential since a lot of people who have bought a Switch during the pandemic will have already had a PS4 or Xbox One and a lot of people who had none of them probably picked the Switch over the other two since it was more appealing to them, for example a lot of the women who bought a Switch.

Also, a greater share of Switch units are sold to/for kids.  With everyone stuck at home, parents are happy to buy the kids a Switch to give them something to do that (this is important) doesn't require a TV.  No kids fighting over the XB/PS and TV if they each have a Switch.  No parents having to listen to kids gaminh while they're working from home if they can tell the kid to go play Switch in his room.  

Add this to the consoles lifecycles, and Switch was just in a much better position to gain market share during the pandemic.  

That's another good point. The Wii U had that sort of thing but the connection range wasn't that big so the Switch took that advantage and made it better and got rid of the massive disadvantages that prevented the Wii U from being successful.



Leynos said:

Wii also only had one thing going for it. A novelty. Novelties wear off. The switch has a practical use for its selling point. It's convenient having the ability to be both docked and handheld. As HDTVs became more common and Smartphones the less sense Wii made. Switch released just before the cloud gaming boom and it's more practical than cloud gaming IMO. I'm not saying this is the sole factor. Just an additional one to what has already been mentioned.

So were Nintendo's other home consoles with shorter generations and less successful than the Wii worse novelties?



I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

Jumpin said:
Leynos said:

Wii also only had one thing going for it. A novelty. Novelties wear off. The switch has a practical use for its selling point. It's convenient having the ability to be both docked and handheld. As HDTVs became more common and Smartphones the less sense Wii made. Switch released just before the cloud gaming boom and it's more practical than cloud gaming IMO. I'm not saying this is the sole factor. Just an additional one to what has already been mentioned.

So were Nintendo's other home consoles with shorter generations and less successful than the Wii worse novelties?

Different situations entirely.



Bite my shiny metal cockpit!

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The_Liquid_Laser said:

Super Mario Party, Pokemon Let's Go, Smash Bros, and NSMB U all released within a 4 month window during late 2018-early 2019.  All of those games are in the Switch's top 10.  Yeah, it actually was games causing Switch sales to grow.

As you said, except for NSMBU those were 2018 releases. And except for NSMBU and Mario Maker 2, all the high-profile Switch releases for 2019 were after the Lite was released in September.

Nobody has yet to satisfactorily prove that any one game (or four closely-released ones) can improve their system's baseline for many months on end. We've never really seen it with other systems before, so why assume it's happening now? Also, having good lifetime sales doesn't make a game a system-seller. Sure, Smash was an undeniable blockbuster and Pokemon Let's Go did very well, and there's solid evidence that both moved some surplus hardware. But neither NSMBU nor Mario Party appears to have moved the needle for software in the short term if what they did in Japan is any indication. Their initial sales in Japan weren't all that impressive either despite their solid lifetime sales; according to Media Create, first week sales for NSMBU and Mario Party were 166k and 142k respectively, relatively mediocre starts compared to a lot other popular games. In the U.S., NSMBU had already dropped out of the Monthly Top 10 in February and the YTD Top 10 by April, and Mario Party dropped out of the monthly Top 10 after the 2018 holiday season (Pokemon Let's Go's legs are hard to determine as NPD logged the Pikachu and Eevee versions separately).

You could make a case for January 2019 feeling some residual effect from Smash as there have been a few system-sellers to still have a small effect in the month after their release, but that's about it. Except for maybe Splatoon (and only in Japan), there's never been a single recorded case of any obvious increases in hardware sales two months after a notable system-seller's release. The effects of individual games on hardware sales are often grossly overestimated. Their effects are very short-term. And again, we don't see continued strong lineups over time result in growth in baseline sales for other systems, so why assume the Switch is somehow unique in that regard?

And FWIW, we didn't see a consistent increase in the Switch's baseline in Japan like we did in the U.S. While sales were up in January & February 2019, by mid-March it was down to being about flat from 2018 and it stayed like that until the Lite was released.



Nothing really complicated Switch is a different type of platform than any before it that's all, the hybrid form factor was executed well and as a result unites two userbase types and consolidates all support for the platform while retaining the perks of both home and portable experience. Basically it's a good product catering to two parallel markets.



Shadow1980 said:
The_Liquid_Laser said:

Super Mario Party, Pokemon Let's Go, Smash Bros, and NSMB U all released within a 4 month window during late 2018-early 2019.  All of those games are in the Switch's top 10.  Yeah, it actually was games causing Switch sales to grow.

As you said, except for NSMBU those were 2018 releases. And except for NSMBU and Mario Maker 2, all the high-profile Switch releases for 2019 were after the Lite was released in September.

Nobody has yet to satisfactorily prove that any one game (or four closely-released ones) can improve their system's baseline for many months on end. We've never really seen it with other systems before, so why assume it's happening now? Also, having good lifetime sales doesn't make a game a system-seller. Sure, Smash was an undeniable blockbuster and Pokemon Let's Go did very well, and there's solid evidence that both moved some surplus hardware. But neither NSMBU nor Mario Party appears to have moved the needle for software in the short term if what they did in Japan is any indication. Their initial sales in Japan weren't all that impressive either despite their solid lifetime sales; according to Media Create, first week sales for NSMBU and Mario Party were 166k and 142k respectively, relatively mediocre starts compared to a lot other popular games. In the U.S., NSMBU had already dropped out of the Monthly Top 10 in February and the YTD Top 10 by April, and Mario Party dropped out of the monthly Top 10 after the 2018 holiday season (Pokemon Let's Go's legs are hard to determine as NPD logged the Pikachu and Eevee versions separately).

You could make a case for January 2019 feeling some residual effect from Smash as there have been a few system-sellers to still have a small effect in the month after their release, but that's about it. Except for maybe Splatoon (and only in Japan), there's never been a single recorded case of any obvious increases in hardware sales two months after a notable system-seller's release. The effects of individual games on hardware sales are often grossly overestimated. Their effects are very short-term. And again, we don't see continued strong lineups over time result in growth in baseline sales for other systems, so why assume the Switch is somehow unique in that regard?

And FWIW, we didn't see a consistent increase in the Switch's baseline in Japan like we did in the U.S. While sales were up in January & February 2019, by mid-March it was down to being about flat from 2018 and it stayed like that until the Lite was released.

There were four top selling games released back-to-back 4 months in a row.  That is an undeniable fact.  All 4 games are in the Switch's top 10 best-sellers of all time.  You cannot say that NSMB U and Mario Party are poor sellers as a whole, because they are clearly top sellers.
https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/software/index.html

Instead you are expecting a first month sales spike for all 4 games.  NSMBU and Mario Party did not have a huge sales spike the first month like a lot of games do.  Instead they have incredible legs.  This is an undeniable fact, because they are in the top 10 in spite of the fact that they didn't sell a huge chunk during the first month.  They just keep selling well every month (and so does Smash Bros).  When you have several evergreen games that sell a good amount every month, that is going to increase baseline sales.

Also, I think the reason why so many people disagree with you can be summed up by this line, "The effects of individual games on hardware sales are often grossly overestimated."  It sounds like you don't believe in killer apps.  That may be the real cause of the disagreement.  I definitely believe that killer apps exist and cause people to buy hardware.  If you don't believe this, then you should really be making the case of why you think no game is really selling the hardware and then explain why you think people are buying the hardware when they really aren't interested in specific games.  



The_Liquid_Laser said:

There were four top selling games released back-to-back 4 months in a row.  That is an undeniable fact.  All 4 games are in the Switch's top 10 best-sellers of all time.  You cannot say that NSMB U and Mario Party are poor sellers as a whole, because they are clearly top sellers.
https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/software/index.html

Instead you are expecting a first month sales spike for all 4 games.  NSMBU and Mario Party did not have a huge sales spike the first month like a lot of games do.  Instead they have incredible legs.  This is an undeniable fact, because they are in the top 10 in spite of the fact that they didn't sell a huge chunk during the first month.  They just keep selling well every month (and so does Smash Bros).  When you have several evergreen games that sell a good amount every month, that is going to increase baseline sales.

Also, I think the reason why so many people disagree with you can be summed up by this line, "The effects of individual games on hardware sales are often grossly overestimated."  It sounds like you don't believe in killer apps.  That may be the real cause of the disagreement.  I definitely believe that killer apps exist and cause people to buy hardware.  If you don't believe this, then you should really be making the case of why you think no game is really selling the hardware and then explain why you think people are buying the hardware when they really aren't interested in specific games.  

Re-read what I said about Mario Party and NSMBU. You'll see that I said they didn't have good initial sales. Their lifetime sales are good, not because they started off well, but because they managed to have legs just good enough to generate a good lifetime tally. NSMBU in particular has been quite leggy; while it shipped only 4.1M by June 30, 2019 and 5.85M by Dec. 31, 2019, it's now at almost 10M. Not a record-smashing start (esp. in Japan), but good enough long-term sales to do what it did.

Regarding system-sellers. There are very few games that cause any significant increases in hardware sales. That's a simple fact. The vast majority games do precisely jack squat. Even some games that are very popular don't move any measurable amount of hardware. It's even harder to notice any effects when sales are tracked monthly like they are in the U.S. (a game that causes a 50% bump in weekly sales in the week of its release would only cause a 12.5% increase for a 4-week month, something that could be easily overlooked as statistical noise). Sales are tracked weekly in Japan so we notice more system-sellers, but the vast majority of those do relatively small one-week bumps. Some have a residual effect lasting a few weeks, which is consistent with what we see in the U.S. with most clear system-sellers having an effect in just their release month, with a select few having some sort of residual effect in the next month.

And no individual game, nor any particular lineup of notable games released over a brief period of time, has ever caused an increase in baseline sales lasting for months on end. It. Just. Doesn't. Happen. A system having a good performance in general does depend greatly on the strength of its library, but actual sales growth for periods longer than a month or two is, as far as can be determined from the data, not the result of any one game or even a group of closely-released games. We've never seen a strong lineup in one year (or half-year, or quarter) do it with any other system before. Why assume it's suddenly a thing with the Switch?



Leynos said:
Jumpin said:

So were Nintendo's other home consoles with shorter generations and less successful than the Wii worse novelties?

Different situations entirely.

Since your premise is irrelevant, your conclusion based on it is invalid.



I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.