I have been thinking recently of how Sony is doing a tremendous job with the current direction of its PlayStation brand. Even without any real data, I could tell that the PlayStation 5 is gaming’s hottest new video game system with a gaming lineup that will have it be prosperous for years to come. At this point, the best exclusives in console gaming can be found on the PS4 and PS5. I’ve felt for quite a while that Nintendo has been very conservative in its approach of constantly relying on its tried and true brands instead of taking some much-needed risks to stay ahead of its competition. As a result, I knew the day was coming when Nintendo would be eventually unseated from its top position in console gaming. And according to The NPR Group’s Mat Piscatella’s report from this past Monday, it happened last month. We now have the real data.
After 33 months of the Nintendo Switch leading the charge in console units sold and revenue, the PS5 finally ascended to the No.1 spot in both categories in September. The last time the Nintendo Switch wasn’t the gaming console leader was back in 2018 when the PS4 bested Nintendo’s system in November of that year. Both the PS5 and Switch have had a strong 2021. The PS5 is leading the way in revenue and the Switch is first in units sold. These same platforms are likely to have a lucrative 2022 as many anticipated games that were originally scheduled to be released this year will come during the next annual cycle.
So what caused the PS5 to finally best Nintendo? In short, it’s the game library that provides excellent variety with superior hardware and graphics. Secondly, PlayStation’s exclusives are second to none with franchises such as Ratchet & Clank, Marvel’s Spider-Man, The Last of Us, Uncharted, God of War, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, and Ghosts of Tsushima. This is in stark contrast to Nintendo’s constant reliance on the same brands we’ve known for decades. The familiar titles are some form of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Super Smash Bros., Super Mario Kart, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, etc. PlayStation has been more successful in creating exclusives that feel much more relevant in 2021 and while Nintendo in no way should abandon what has worked, it is in dire need of something that feels fresh. But as supportive as its consumer base is and the fact that the Switch is a hybrid console, I expect that Nintendo will continue to thrive but will have to work harder against the PS5 going forward.
Although the PS5 and Switch are ruling the console market, I would not sleep on Xbox. Microsoft has acquired many studios over the past few years and plans to continue doing so, according to Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s executive vice president of gaming. It appears that Microsoft is still in a heavy investment phase and how these purchases will pay off is something we all will have to wait and see. I would expect to start seeing the fruit of these acquisitions within the next few years. Although Xbox is currently behind PlayStation and Nintendo in the console market, the platform is still making good money. Also, its parent company is loaded with assets. The investment in gaming studios is vital for the future of Xbox because I believe the only way Microsoft can compete with the other two will be through new game exclusives. The exclusive brands that Microsoft is known for such as Halo, Gears of War, Forza Horizon, and Ori have featured top-quality titles. Yet they have not fared well against the competition.
It’s always fun to look at the numbers and big props to Piscatella for his latest update. According to current trends, gaming continues to be growing in revenue with 2021 being likely to outpace 2020. I am happy to see PlayStation finally snap Nintendo’s 33-month streak as I’ve felt Sony has done much more in 2021 than Nintendo has in progressing gaming forward. Through PlayStation Now, a person can now play PlayStation exclusives on a PC or other devices. In case you missed it, God of War is coming to PC in 2022, joining Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition, Days Gone, and Death Stranding as previous PlayStations exclusives ported to PC. PlayStation is now exploring the mobile gaming market as well. And honestly, my hope is that this will kind of start waking Nintendo up.