The Nintendo Switch is doing fairly well – unit sales in June 2019 topped 36.87 million – almost double that of June of 2018’s 19.67 million unit sales. In terms of market share for home consoles, during the last generation, Nintendo sat at 37% (based on the Wii), while its position on portable devices stood at 66%, giving Nintendo an overall market share of 50%.
But, ending 2018, the terrain was completely different. Nintendo’s home console market share was 9% (Wii U), while its portables had shot up to 82%, with Nintendo dominating the hybrid market with 100% of the market share for the Switch and setting an average of 43%.
The decision to abandon the dedicated home console and move towards the hybrid market looks to be profitable. Indeed, the Nintendo Switch is the product that the company hopes to see their fortunes continue to rise with. The Nintendo Switch offers console-style gameplay, with features usually seen on stationary consoles, but with the portability of Nintendo’s previous offerings of the 3DS and Gameboy.
News from the past few months indicates that some big titles are migrating towards the Switch, which could see it come out fighting fit in a year of extreme competition and an oversaturated gaming market. What could we see from the Nintendo Switch as we head into 2020?
What is coming to the Nintendo Switch?
According to multiple official sources, Blizzard’s team-shooter, Overwatch, will be joining the Nintendo Switch’s offerings as of October 15. The package will come with 15 character skins and a three-month Nintendo Switch Online membership, necessary to play the game online. As well as the Switch migration, the game has also tweaked its creative Workshop mode, added new characters, and created a role queue feature to balance teams more effectively, so it will be interesting to see these features in the Switch version.
The Switch already offers Fortnite, a similarly popular game, and seems to be positioning itself as somewhere fans can enjoy their favourite games available elsewhere in order to benefit from the portability and flexibility of the console.
Pokémon fans rejoice as Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield will be released for the Switch in November 2019, adding new features and introducing both new fans, joined through the release of Pokémon Let’s Go, and those who have been with the franchise since its Gameboy days, to the anticipated UK-themed region and a host of new creatures to catch.
Other upcoming releases for the portable console include Luigi’s Mansion 3, which continues Nintendo’s best-selling franchise, as well as team survival game, Overland. There’s also the latest Legend of Zelda – Link’s Awakening, an as-yet-untitled stealth game about a mischievous goose, and Game Freak’s latest creation, Little Town Hero, a game where the protagonist defends his small town from monsters.
While the autumn is usually a strong time for video gaming, 2020 is promised to be even more game-changing; the success of Overwatch and the latest Pokémon addition – competing with Pokémon Go, which is still the recipient of a large following – will help Nintendo plan its next move.
What could be holding the Switch back?
One of the major threads to be found on Reddit (the most reliable of sources!) regarding the Nintendo Switch asks why the console doesn’t have a browser feature. Someone discovered that there is in fact a browser, but it can’t be used by the gamer and is instead for logging into public hotspots. When the project was first announced, many wondered how they could log into hotspots without a browser and were convinced there would be one included in the system. One user also found that you could link your social profiles and view Facebook through the Switch. But, this isn’t exactly what most have in mind when it comes to browser use.
So, it could be argued that the lack of a browser feature could be considered a barrier for those contemplating getting a Switch to play some of its exclusive titles. Browser gaming is serious business – stats from 2017 found that browser gaming brought in $4.5bn of the total gaming revenue – or 4%. Experts suggest this figure will see a decline as browser games migrate to mobile. Still, there is still a wide range of games that rely on the use of a browser – and the very fact that the Switch could incorporate a browser at some point, plus considering its already attractive features, could mean a huge rise in popularity of an already profitable area of gaming.
As an example, online casinos use browser technology to offer its players an accessible iGaming experience, and the industry has seen a boost over recent years, especially since optimising many games for mobile play. Every launch of new online slots reflects the gaming trends of the engagements behaviours and preferences of players; from popular films to TV shows and existing gaming franchises. The industry in itself encapsulates the trend of hyper-casual gaming that has recently become extremely popular online and on handheld devices.
The Nintendo Switch sits at an interesting point in gaming history. It has the power to convert both players who might enjoy the mobile style of gameplay, those who are diehard franchise fans, and those who enjoy the benefits of gaming on an actual console. The releases and the excitement behind its games show exactly why the Switch was a strong move for Nintendo, even if it meant archiving most of its back catalogue of devices. Nintendo looks to recoup some of its losses such as the Wii U – and begin creating an equally-popular family for the Nintendo Switch. Their next move will most likely aim to absorb some of the players from other consoles, mobile devices, and even desktop programmes by providing anticipated and prized gaming content.