NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella makes an excellent point about how the Nintendo Switch lives along consoles as well as rivaling them.
As a handheld, the Switch offers something current consoles don't. That's why roughly 40% of surveyed console gamers in the U.S. own a Switch as well as a PS4 or Xbox One, per NPD data.
This brief statistic underlines how the Switch simultaneously lives in between and on top of current-gen systems. Many gamers own just a Switch due to its portability, but a good portion of dedicated console gamers have also double-dipped on the Switch to take their habits on-the-go. And for mobile gaming, it doesn't get any better than Nintendo's handheld-hybrid.
Another interesting thing to note about the Switch is its release cadence.
Nintendo often launches its systems before or between Sony and Microsoft, which gives them a chance to capture a matured console market (except in the case of the Wii U). In this case, Nintendo not only captured the handheld market from previous 3DS owners, but also pulled over PS4 and Xbox One gamers too. The trend should continue as Nintendo adds more heavy-hitting first-party exclusives to its lineup, as well as its retro-based Switch Online service.
So by launching the Switch in 2017, roughly 4 years into the PS4 and Xbox One lifecycle, Nintendo was able to entice console gamers with something new and different. Something that offered many of the games they already play on a unique on-the-go form factor that also satisfied living room gaming. And most importantly, something that had Mario, Zelda, and Super Smash Bros.
What's next for the Switch?
Kantan Games analyst Dr. Serkan Toto predicts the souped-up Switch will enable 4K gaming at a $399 price point.
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nintendo will launch a Switch Pro in 2020, my guess is at $399," Toto told GamesIndustry.biz.
"More specifically, I predict 4K support, bigger cartridge sizes, and of course beefed-up components. I also think the device will launch after the summer holidays to counter the roll-out of the PS5 and next-gen Xbox later in the year - along with a first-party, system-seller game."
But everything we know about Nintendo hints otherwise. The company usually stays out of the PlayStation vs Xbox brawls and instead moves to the beat of its own drum, launching innovative hardware when the next-gen hype wars have cooled down. Given this, I'd say a new Switch would roll out sometime in 2021 or even 2022. If it even happens at all.
Meanwhile, NPD's Mat Piscatella expects Switch sales to continue strongly in 2020 even as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X release.
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