Games Inbox: Will the Nintendo Switch outsell the PS4?

The Friday Inbox is convinced that Zelda: Skyward Sword is better on Switch than the Wii, as one reader looks forward to Psychonauts 2.

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Tortoise and the hare
Reading about Nintendo’s latest sales figures is just unreal. By the end of the Wii U era that company was on the ropes. They’d completely squandered their success with the Wii and were forced to demean themselves making mobile games to make any money. Now, four years later, the Switch is on course to be their biggest console ever and there’s a good chance it’ll end up beating the PlayStation 4 and winning the generation, despite Sony having a more than three year head start.

If Hollywood made movies about video game consoles that would seem too ridiculous to be made up, let alone what happened. If the Switch beats the PlayStation 4, which it can pretty easily do, then it will be the second best selling home console ever, behind only the PlayStation 2 – which it hasn’t got much chance of beating (the PlayStation 2 basically had no competition in its generation so it’s almost untouchable).

I don’t think it even matters whether Switch Pro comes out or not. Nintendo only has to sell another 27 million Switches to beat the PlayStation 4 and it’s going to do a good chunk of that this Christmas with the Switch OLED. Personally, after that I’d rather they then went ahead and made a proper Switch 2, but I’m not going to do anything as pointless as trying to predict Nintendo.
Lenny

Ups and down
So what you’re saying is that in a generation or two Nintendo is going to be able to boast of selling over 1 billion video game consoles? Crazy. I’m also impressed that Sony has ‘caught up’ so quickly, although I guess there were really only two ‘proper’ generations before the PlayStation and they both had lower sales overall than we’re used to nowadays. Still 800 million consoles in 40 years is pretty amazing.

That’s an average of 20 million a year! Although, you know with Nintendo it was never that consistent. Who would have though they’d go from the mainstream success of the Wii to the utter failure of the Wii U to even bigger success with the Switch. Never count ‘em out but really never count on them for anything, good or bad – it’s always unpredictable, except for the quality of the games.

Considering Xbox is only a generation behind Sony its total is pretty underwhelming, although there never has been a portable Xbox, so that knocks it down a bit. Microsoft has got a lot to overcome still, and they spent all last gen spinning their wheels, but as of right now, all three are in a good place.
Tash

Platform classification
This might be a bit early, but have you got your review copy of Psychonauts 2 yet? I’m giddy with anticipation. The first one isn’t my favourite platformer platform game (that goes to Rayman Legends or one of the Mario Galaxies), but it is my favourite game that could be classified as a platformer (if that makes sense).

I’m still in disbelief that we are getting a sequel. Here’s hoping my namesake will make an appearance.
Dogen’s brain

GC: It does make sense. We don’t know what the embargo for the review will be yet though.

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Amiga daze
With the news that Zool is coming back, I do think it is a shame that Amiga and Atari ST classics very rarely get re-releases these days. And when they do, they’re the subpar DOS versions.

I’d love to see developers like Digital Eclipse doing the work with some of these classics, to get the Amiga versions working on modern consoles and PC. Stunt Car Racer, Lemmings, Walker, Space Crusade, Hired Guns, Dungeon Master, Brian The Lion, Sleepwalker, Soccer Kid, Cannon Fodder, Fire & Ice, Batman: The Movie; all games I’d happily pay a few pounds to play again without having to brave the surprisingly complicated world of Amiga emulation.
Chris Hard

Scene stealers
Zelda: Skyward Sword on the Switch is better than it was on the Wii for me. I use the Switch Pro controller and the controls, while not as fluid and ‘spot on’ as, say, Super Mario Odyssey they are an improvement on using the Wii MotionPlus.

I’ve still murdered way too many bugs and butterflies, though, while faffing about trying to catch them in the bug net, only to accidentally flick the right stick.

Playing it again though one thing springs to mind, and I don’t think this is often mentioned and that’s the humour and thought Nintendo puts into a select few characters. Most characters just trot out banal text, but some just make me laugh.

Tingle is a great example and the fortune teller in Skyloft is as well: ‘Do you hunger to know what these big lovely eyes will behold?’ Well worth 10 rupees to see the lights dim, his little hands dance about and hear his funny noises.
Chevy Malibu (PSN ID)

Business decision
There seems to be a lot of publishers being surprised at how well their games do, especially with games that fans have been asking for, for years. What kind of research are they doing that a sequel to Pokémon Snap or a remaster of Mass Effect are seen as surprising when they’re a big success? I’m sure EA, especially, must’ve done tons and yet they were still caught out? But then I never understood why they let Mass Effect: Andromeda be such a low budget affair from the BioWare B-team.

I hope this means that Mass Effect 4 gets treated as the big deal it should be, although that may depend on how well Dragon Age 4 does before it. EA’s turn around on single-player games is definitely unexpected but I guess it all plays into what people have been discussing a lot in the Inbox lately: that companies only do anything for the sake of money. And I don’t even say that cynically. They’re huge billion dollar business with thousands of employees, they’re not in it for the art they’re in it for everyone keeping their job.

That doesn’t mean they’re not interested in quality – better games tend to sell better – and when things work out, like with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and hopefully the Dead Space remake a decision, even when it’s made by bean-counting accounts can end up pleasing everyone. Or at least most people.
Caca

Extra Mass
I’m near the end of Mass Effect 3 Legendary Edition and I must say I’d forgotten how brilliant the whole trilogy is. It’s been a great nostalgic trip back, I remember buying my first HDTV to play the first game, as the text was unreadable on my super heavy CRT TV.

Yeah, the one that gave me an umbilical hernia getting it out of the box.
Zombiekicker
Now playing: Far Cry 5 and Risk Of Rain 2 (both dirty cheap on PSN store)

Not normal
Not sure how reliable it is but this Video Game Sales Wiki tells me it took the PlayStation 4 over five years, and six Christmases, to reach 91 million units sold. In comparison, the Switch has reached 89 million in under four and a half years, and two fewer Christmases, so it’s clearly good going.

I just wish there were more recent and/or imminent killer apps, as I don’t feel as though this success reflects the state of their software schedule in terms of ambitious games. In fact, it probably encourages all this low-effort output even more.

Which oddly kind of makes me a bit glad there’s been a dent in their sales numbers. Current productivity issues might not be their fault but for a long time Nintendo probably couldn’t believe their luck with the marriage of record sales and relatively low-effort releases, and I don’t like to think how this could impact their future business models.

In contrast, we can consider record-breaking sales for the most recent (and arguably the best ever) instalments in the likes of Mario Kart, The Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario, Splatoon, Smash Bros., Animal Crossing, etc. All excellent signs of encouragement from the market that Nintendo should direct first party talent towards making core fans happy and success will follow as a result. I want to see them get back to putting in as much as they’re getting out of the market.

I’ve never really cared about rumours of Pro models and some of the other headline-grabbing stuff. But a key factor about Switch that excites me is it’s the first time since the launch of the Game Boy (mobile gaming notwithstanding) where Nintendo hasn’t had to divide first party talent between multiple platforms. This should’ve resulted in powerful synergies and potentially much greater output from pooled resources.

But even if (as I genuinely hope) the pandemic is the main reason for such a thing failing to come to pass, and for the Wii U style dry spells between eventual big tent pole releases, it might now occur to the business that large scope, ambitious high quality first party games aren’t as necessary as people like me want them to be.

Not that I’m suggesting they would cut such games out altogether, but they surely have the means to double down on those sorts of games with potentially even greater success, whereas now the market indication may be that two or three years between such titles is the real sweet spot. And we know they’ve fallen into that mire of complacency more than once before.
Panda

GC: The terrible post-launch support for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, at least once they got past the stuff they’d obviously prepared in advance, should be an indication of just how badly Nintendo has been affected by the pandemic – which is still extremely bad in Japan.

Inbox also-rans
I wasn’t expecting news of a Zool game, that’s great news! Will ts still feature the ever so subtle product placement?
Commodore Fan

GC: Do Chupa Chups even still exist?

Is that how Zool used to look?! In my Amiga memories, the character was leaner, taller, and less pixely. You know: more like a ninja, less like a beetle. Rose-tinted glasses for Zool – who knew?
FoximusPrime81 (gamertag/NN ID/Twitter)

GC: They are using the Mega Drive version as the main reference point but if anything, he looked more portly in the Amiga version.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Julian, who asks whether you’ve ever been reminded of a game by something mundane in real-life?

His examples include car journeys reminiscent of driving games and summer holidays that make you think of Far Cry, but it can be anything from a location being similar to a game to some small detail about an in-game object or gadget.

Was it just a one-off or have you had it happen a lot, and has it happened more as game graphics have become more realistic?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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