One year ago, Nintendo was doomed. Although they had seen a brief surge of positive press thanks to the release of Pokemon GO, the utter failure of the Wii U, and the faltering sales of the 3DS meant that people had written Nintendo off. It had been years since their consoles or handhelds had mattered in the market. It had been years since their games had been relevant. Once the pioneers of the industry, Nintendo was now, like so many other Japanese companies, fading into irrelevance, and surely, this decline would end with them bowing out of the hardware industry, too.
Except, all of that turned out to be false just one year in- Nintendo struck back with the Switch, its fastest selling system ever, and a new, innovative bit of kit that has re-energized the 100+ year old company, it managed to revive a 7 year old 3DS, which now shows no signs of dying (with neither Nintendo nor third parties willing to give up on it yet), and managed to put out some of their best games ever- including one that is now being referred to as possibly the best one ever made. And most importantly, with all of this success, Nintendo finally got third parties to take notice of them and their systems again, with companies like Bethesda, Square Enix, and 2K jumping in head first to support them, and even companies like EA and Rockstar cautiously scoping their system out.
All of this happened in just one year- a year ago, we didn’t even know the Switch existed (it was still known by its codename, the ‘NX’, back then). No one, even in their wildest dreams, expected it would be so successful, so far. The general laws of physics state that the higher the momentum or inertia (or indeed, any vector quantity), the more force and energy needed to stall or reverse it- so the magnitude of Nintendo’s success with the Switch should be very clear, given the contrast between where they were, and where they are, and how they achieved all of that in just a year.
“Nintendo’s success with the Switch should be very clear, given the contrast between where they were, and where they are, and how they achieved all of that in just a year.”
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Sony- Sony have pulled their own comeback since the early days of the PS3 failure (and the brief blip that was the Vita), with the PS4 having consistently performed well due to its outstanding momentum, on the back of Sony’s clear marketing, great first party games, and strong first party support from around the world. The PS4 has always done well, ever since its launch- but this truly was the year the system came into its own, with it getting practically one major game a day for the first few weeks and months of the year- many of them exclusive.
So we have Sony continuing to do well, and Nintendo pulling back with a hell of a comeback- the industry is healthier than it has been in years, and I truly, truly hope that this extends to Microsoft as well.
Microsoft started off this generation reasonably well with the Xbox One (though they were playing second fiddle to the PS4 from the get go), but they have fallen behind majorly in recent months and years, in hardware sales (where they are now outsold every month by Sony and Nintendo), in terms of major games and exclusives, and even the zeitgeist- the conversation around games and the happenings in the industry only very rarely seems to revolve around them anymore.
This is, thankfully, a situation that they can remedy- and indeed, just as Nintendo managed to pull back with the Switch, so I hope that Microsoft manages to stage a full fledged comeback with the upcoming Xbox One X, which can give them the kind of re-energizing resurgence that Nintendo enjoyed with the Switch earlier this year.
Early indications are encouraging- the hardware is impeccably well made, the impressions are positive, the pre-orders sold out, the marketing is clearer and more defined, third parties are more receptive and enthusiastic than they were about the Xbox One, and it even seems like, much like Nintendo had a rather terrible showing last year on the exclusives front, before coming out all guns swinging this year with a relentless cavalcade, so too might Microsoft- while this year went horribly for them on that front, they seem to be amassing a great lineup of exclusives for next year- Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, plus the requisite Forza game, as well as the potential for a Halo 6 and Gears of War 5 (and obviously Forza Horizon 4)… it’s looking to be a good return after how badly this year went for them.
“Just as Nintendo managed to pull back with the Switch, so I hope that Microsoft manages to stage a full fledged comeback with the upcoming Xbox One X,”
There are, of course, things that can still go wrong- the Xbox One X might have a successful launch, but then falter shortly afterwards. The Xbox One X might manage to sell a fair bit, and yet still be unable to reverse the brand’s fortunes. The Xbox One X might end up losing third party support for enhanced games, after this initial surge. Xbox exclusive games might get cancelled or delayed (it’s been known to happen). Any number of things can still go wrong.
But, just as Nintendo managed to somehow pull through all the odds facing them, and turn the Switch into a bona fide hit, so too, I hope, will Microsoft. Not at the expense of Sony or Nintendo, either- I want all three of them to do well. A healthy industry is one with as many successful players and thriving ecosystems as possible- so let’s hope that Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC, and smartphones, all do well and contribute their bit to the overall health of our hobby that we love so much.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.