The Nintendo Switch launched at a noticeably odd period. The PS4 and Xbox One were hitting the peak of their life cycles, so it was unclear (at the time) exactly how the gaming world would adopt the new hybrid system. As we know now, the rest is certainly history. The Switch has been breaking records left-and-right, firmly carving out a nice, little corner of the market despite having disrupted the timing of the traditional console generation. However, its odd timing and unique position in the market as a hybrid system have created other ripple effects. For instance, as pointed out by NPD analyst Mat Piscatella, the Switch user base (in the US) consists of quite a number of multi-console owners.
Mr. Piscatela recently pointed out in a tweet that “over 40%” of Switch owners in the US also own either a PS4 or Xbox One, or even both. Going by this statistic, Mr. Piscatela believes that this will lead to the rise of the upcoming generation to come about without having too big of an effect on the Switch’s market health. He believes that this is due to customers like the ones he mentioned having the Switch as a “supplemental console” rather than a replacement for their other systems:
According to our PlayerPulse surveys, over 40% of Switch owners in the US also own a PS4 and/or an Xbox One. Switch isn't a substitute to PS or Xbox, it's supplemental. I don't see next gen HW launches having a meaningful direct cannibalistic impact on Switch sales in '20. Shrug
— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) January 2, 2020
Microsoft has already named and revealed its next-gen system, the Xbox Series X. It will be launching “Holiday 2020”, which will likely put it in the traditional November release slot. Meanwhile, Sony has yet to show off what its next system will look like, however, the name—PS5—has been confirmed in addition to many tech specs. It is also expected to launch by the end of this year, likely around the same time as the Xbox Series X.
Both of these next-gen machines boast power that goes well beyond the likes of today’s Xbox One X, which will spend the rest of the year as the “most powerful console” until either of the new systems are launched. Despite the upgrades in power, many third-party companies, as of now, still seem to view the Switch with admiration. This is particularly true in the indie realm. After all, the Switch’s already sizeable (and continuously growing) install base is hard to ignore. In fact, this is the exact ‘crutch’ that Nintendo has confirmed that it will be leaning on in order to handle the launches of the new consoles.
it remains to be seen if the heavily rumored “Switch Pro” with enhanced capabilities will come onto the scene. Some analysts do still believe that it will be introduced. This would truly ‘switch up’ the playing field if it does exist, but that remains as only a rumor at this time.
As stated at the beginning of the article, the Switch launched in an odd position, and truthfully, it’s still in an odd position. If Mr. Piscatella’s prediction is correct, then 2020 should continue to be a strong year for the Switch, especially as sales trends for the PS4 and Xbox One begin to decline as the year goes on. Ultimately, though, time will tell to see exactly how the Switch fares under these circumstances.