The Switch has been on the market for nine months at this point, and its momentum has been astronomical. Units are flying off the shelves left and right in a lot of major markets around the world. Of course, game developers and publishers are taking note of the system’s sales performance, but they aren’t the only ones: Nintendo’s competitors are also keeping an eye on the situation.
Sony has commented on the sales performance in a rather interesting way—it seems to view it as an actual threat to their business. Sony’s Kazuhiko Takeda the Head of Corporate Planning and Control was recently interviewed by Asia Nikkei. The whole interview was about Sony’s business performance thus far, which is doing quite well according to Takeda. But, he also took a moment to acknowledge that the Switch’s consistent high sales momentum has become too much for Sony to continue ignoring.
Asia Nikkei: So it’s possible Sony could exceed its profit forecast?
Takeda: “At the moment, we can say with certainty that 630 billion yen is achievable. But even our strongest operations have issues to be tackled. Our greatest risk now is losing our intensity.”
Asia Nikkei: What sort of issues?
Takeda: “At our gaming business, sales of the PlayStation 4 are strong heading into the holidays. But we can’t ignore the Nintendo Switch, which has also captured consumers’ attention. Our business model involves selling both the game console and the software for it, so we’re working to get more customers paying continuously for content, for example through paid subscription services.”
A response like this is to be expected. The longer the Switch continues to have strong momentum, the more attention that takes away from the PS4. Hence the reason why Takeda mentioned that Sony is trying to keep its consumer base engaged with paid subscription services. In other words, Sony really only wants gamers to be opening their wallets for them, not Nintendo (or Microsoft).
Before this turns into yet another ‘console war’ discussion (even though I know it already will), I just want to take a moment to say that this is a good thing. It’s a good thing because it shows that Nintendo has become healthy enough to be seen as a true competitor in the eyes of Sony, who has been the market leader since 2013. This means that Sony will be pushed to keep improving itself in an effort to try and stay on top. Competition breeds big moves from companies, which usually results in it benefiting the consumers. All of these companies are chasing after one thing: your money. So, when one company is doing well, the others will try and do better, all because they want to be the ones to get the most of your money.
At the end of the day, the Switch still has a long way to go before it can catch up to the PS4’s lifetime sales (which are currently at 70+ million). But, that’s not what Sony is concerned about. Sony’s true worry is that the Switch will steal attention away from the PS4 to the point where hardware (and perhaps also software) sales will slow down. Of course, this wouldn’t be a very good look for Sony in the eyes of its investors. Not to mention developers could even be swayed to seek out doing more business with Nintendo, which will further decrease the spotlight that’s on the PS4. All in all, Sony really doesn’t want to be pushed out from its high position. Minus the Wii era, PlayStation has been at the top since the original PS1 released. That’s quite the legacy and one that Sony looks to protect at all costs.