Greetings, Programs! What’s French for “Holy crap!”? I don’t know but it’s time to bust out my French to English dictionary because the console wars news coming out of Japan is grim. Unless you’re the Nintendo Switch, that is.
Viva La Switch!
Oscar Lemaire is a French video game journalist who has written several books on the history of our favorite pastime and he put together some eye-popping charts for us:
Sur l'année 2019, Nintendo détient quasiment 80% du marché des consoles au Japon. 76% rien que pour la Switch, dont les ventes augmentent de 29% par rapport à 2018, ce qui permet de compenser le déclin de la PS4 et la 3DS, et stabiliser le secteur. (chiffres Famitsu) pic.twitter.com/uGqmES5lst
— Oscar Lemaire (@oscarlemaire) January 8, 2020
The (imperfect) translation is as follows:
In 2019, Nintendo held almost 80% of the console market in Japan. 76% just for the Switch, whose sales increased by 29% compared to 2018, which allows to offset the decline of the PS4 and 3DS, and stabilize the sector. (Famitsu figures)
Yes, you read that correctly. 76% of all video game hardware sales in Japan, both handheld and console, were a Nintendo Switch.
If you’ve somehow missed the global phenomena that is the Switch, the amount of pointed attention it’s getting from other big tech players should clue you in that it’s a BFD. Alienware’s recent product reveal alone is a statement on the Switch’s impact. It might sound weird, but Alienware’s Concept UFO opens up a world of gaming possibilities for PC gaming that just weren’t there before. And we kinda have the Nintendo Switch to thank for that.
Anyway! Here are the charts in case you don’t feel like going to twitter to take a peek:
As you can see, hardware sales were down, dramatically, across the board. PS4 took a 29% dive and that was the best case scenario. The Vita is dead in the water with just 37,668 units sold. And the aging 3DS is on its last legs with a brutal 66% decline.
Did the Nintendo Switch kill the 3DS forever?
That last one is interesting. Even when Nintendo had a system go bust *cough* Wii U *cough*, their handheld system was always there to bail them out. But now that the Nintendo Switch is essentially a console and a handheld, what’s the point of the 3DS? They don’t even make the main Pokémon games for it anymore. Pokémon Sword and Shield are on Switch now.
My take? It’s a bit of a risky “putting all your eggs in one basket” move. Especially for a company that was the first, and only (sorry, Vita), to successfully diversify. Then again, when you dominate the market, in Japan at least, to this degree, you’re probably not too worried about some little upstart knocking you off your perch. Godzilla doesn’t sweat the small fries.
The flip side is that the world of video games is extremely fickle and what worked today is no guarantee of success tomorrow. But that’s what makes our passion so exciting! We always have something to look forward to!