Sony and Microsoft can’t make enough PS5 and new Xbox units to go around, that’s how huge the demand is. Despite the pandemic-fueled economic hardships, the new consoles have sold out since they went on preorder, and they’ve been out of stock ever since. Even so, it’s the Nintendo Switch that dominated 2020, and the “old” console is still expected to outperform the new PlayStation and Xbox models this year. That’s according to analysts who are observing the gaming industry closely. Some of them also think that the Switch Pro console’s launch is imminent, as Nintendo will want to finally release new hardware to better compete against the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Analysts aren’t always right, and we saw similar predictions last year. Several reports indicated the same thing, with Nintendo always denying rumors. Sony and Microsoft launched new consoles that offer vastly superior specs to the Switch, putting additional pressure on Nintendo. Then again, Nintendo does have something else to entice gamers, and that’s content.
One of the analysts who spoke said that the Nintendo content would drive the strong Switch sales this year rather than new hardware. Here’s what NPD’s Mat Picatella had to say about Nintendo’s 2021:
Despite the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, it will be the Nintendo Switch that ends up selling the most units of console hardware in 2021. I will go a step further and suggest this will be driven by content and promotional efforts rather than the release of a new iterative model.
Others reiterated their expectations to see a new Switch Pro this year. That includes Kantan Games’ Serkan Toto, who made a similar prediction in 2020, which did not turn out to be accurate.
Yes, I know, I know. I predict a beefed-up 4K device is coming during Nintendo’s next financial year. And let it be said: “Switch” is just a word.
Everybody expecting the Switch to run out of steam in 2021 is in for a bitter disappointment. The Switch will be the best-selling console this year as well, driven by more first-party games, a hardware refresh (see above), and the device has developed into a lifestyle product for the mass market over the course of 2020.
Ampere Analysis’ Piers Harding-Rolls also expects a new Switch Pro this year, saying that the Nintendo console will outsell its competitors:
I expect Nintendo’s Switch family of devices to be the best-selling consoles again in 2021 following a very strong 2020. Last year I was unconvinced there would be a new flagship model Switch in 2020, but it makes more commercial sense to release an updated version in 2021. I currently have an updated version of the Switch in my forecasts for 2021.
Overall, 2021 is going to be a big year for the console sector, with Switch devices expected to sell in large numbers (currently expecting ~24 million) and next-gen consoles fresh to the market (combined sales forecast to hit ~25 million), segment growth will be substantial even against the backdrop of a pandemic-induced recession. I expect the production of Xbox One S and PS4 Pro to cease in 2021. PS5 will outsell the combined total of Xbox Series X|S on a global basis. I’m expecting PS5 shipments of around 8.5 million by the end of March 2021.
The analysts touched on other gaming-related aspects in their predictions, not just the increasingly more heated competition in the console business, with the full interview available at this link.