2019 is the end of an exciting year for console gamers. And not just because of the multitude of good video games that have been released. From a technical point of view, 2019 is also the last year before the leap into the next generation of performance. In 2020, both the Playstation 5 and a new Xbox will probably appear - whether and what Nintendo is planning, however, is uncertain. What is certain is that 2020 will also be a great year for consoles. And what about 2019? Who won the Playstation vs Microsoft Xbox vs Nintendo Switch battle? Let's take a look.
Nintendo puts competition under pressure to act
Because the next-generation consoles will come onto the market in the coming year, one would have expected the proverbial calm before the storm for 2019: fewer highlights, not quite as much marketing, a focus on what is to come - the opposite was the case. With a few exceptions, the console year 2019 was as lively as the years before. Nintendo is partly responsible for this.
The Japanese electronics giant has not only kicked the bill for its Nintendo Switch, but has also technically refurbished the hybrid console and with the Nintendo Switch Lite launched a variant geared towards mobile gaming. Sony and Microsoft could not rest on their previous successes and had to go along - otherwise Nintendo would have rushed off even further than already.
With the Switch, Nintendo has achieved a coup, the extent of which hardly anyone could have predicted. It was to be assumed that a new, but above all different, Nintendo console would sell well. It was hard to predict that the Nintendo Switch would reach around half of the sales of the Playstation 2019 by 4. The switch will have gone over the counter around 50 million times by the end of the year. The Playstation 4 has done this twice as often, but has been available since 2014. With its release in mid-2017, the Nintendo Switch is still young and has its prime ahead of it.
The growing up of the Nintendo Switch is also evident through the numerous releases of games for well-known franchises: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Yoshi's Crafted World, Super Mario Maker 2 The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Ring Fit Adventure, Luigi's Mansion 3 and Last but not least, Pokémon show the mighty first-party line-up with which Nintendo was able to bring its console to the player extremely well.
There were also titles that are actually atypical for Nintendo's family console, but appeal directly to core gamers. Including Wolfenstein, Mortal Kombat, The Witcher 3 or Overwatch. In addition, the Final Fantasy titles finally made it into the Nintendo world.
The times when Nintendo was synonymous with colorful party games have finally passed since 2019 at the latest. Nintendo shows that the Nintendo Switch can actually appeal to die-hard gamers and not just Japano fans. The graphically intensive gaming highlights are still reserved for Switch gamers: Call of Duty, Destiny 2 - Shadowkeep or Star Wars: Fallen Order did not exist for the Nintendo Switch for purely technical reasons - and in the future too, Switch games will attract attention more through good gameplay and a special style than through pure graphic splendor. Nintendo Games-Line up made a significant contribution to the success of the year.
It should not be forgotten that some of the mega IPs did not make it into 2019: There was no information about a successor to Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was just as long in coming this year as a new Metroid. For Nintendo, these are now future issues that should boost sales again in the coming year. On the Launch of the Nintendo Switch in China the company's stock reacts positively - a clear indication of the potential that lies dormant in the console two and a half years after the release.
A mixed year for Sony
Overall, 2019 was a mixed year for Sony. But even mixed Playstation years are still comparatively good Playstation years. Sony still had to give up feathers towards Nintendo, Guiness world record or not.
This also has to do with the game releases: Days Gone was not really suitable as an exclusive title, Death Stranding was good, but very idiosyncratic and hardly suitable for the masses and the company could hardly score in the virtual reality segment, which is actually Sony exclusive.
Overall, Sony overslept in 2019. There were no major event appearances, no announcements of real highlights and the “State of Play” was regularly criticized because of the uninspired content. In addition, there were minor disasters: announcing a deadline party title and then informing you about a postponement a few weeks later? That doesn't go down well with fans.
Nevertheless: Sony seems to be preparing for the “big hit” in 2020. Then namely the Playstation 5 appears - if the project goes smoothly. However, Sony can also be satisfied with the sales figures of its Playstation 4 in 2019. The console dominates the charts, the PS4 has established itself as a top seller.
Sony also bought quality: in the form of the development studio Insomniac Games, which was responsible for Marvel's Spiderman, a game that is not only mentioned in the same breath as Rocksteady's Batman Arkham series, but is sometimes considered better. The Playstation service “PS Now” also seems to be more in focus: Sony offered good content and will continue to do so in 2020.
Microsoft knocked off again?
And Microsoft? The Redmond-based company never tires of announcing their Xbox Scarlett project as groundbreaking and technologically outstanding. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough in the console fight against the direct competitor Playstation 5. The fact that the percentage of sales will shift in favor of Microsoft is probably a pious wish: the Xbox will also be beaten in 2020, albeit successfully.
With regard to their exclusive titles, Microsoft has to do more for the Xbox in the coming year than was the case in 2019. Crackdown 3 was a devastatingly bad first-party title, but at the same time Gears 5 proved what great “Xbox only” games can get out there.
The plans for 2020 look good, also due to the purchases from well-known developer studios. Among other rare products, a completely new brand will be created in the coming year. Should this be as successful as “Sea of Thieves”, Microsoft could make up ground.
One of the greatest successes of Microsoft's Xbox is the establishment and further development of the Game Pass game subscription, which includes exclusive in-house productions and now even PC games. Microsoft's playful focus is no longer just on Xbox, but also on merging Windows PC players and console fans.
Microsoft also has some gigantic brands in the pipeline for next year: the Microsoft flight simulator and Age of Empires 4, and sales of Halo for PC will drag on well into 2020. The sales department should celebrate its success - also because Halo: The Master Chief Collection is also sold on Steam. The “X019” show in London gave a first taste of what fans and the industry can expect in 2020.
In the end, Microsoft is not completely behind, at least compared to Sony. Microsoft is losing out on pure console sales, but overall it can position itself on a similar image level as Sony. Fans and critics alike expect great deeds from both companies in the coming year. The technological leap in console hardware must come, as well as innovations. The games line-up also needs big names and successful sales.
The 2019 Console Battle Winner: Nintendo
If Sony and Microsoft fail in their console releases, Nintendo pulls away. Also this year, neither the Playstation nor the Xbox could hold their own against the “red giant”. Nintendo has achieved a real marketing coup with the Switch: away from the pure fun console, towards an innovative piece of hardware that can also inspire core gamers. The fact that you can play mobile games in terrific quality with the Nintendo Switch almost seems to be a matter of course. The Nintendo Switch did no less than that To change the world of consoles sustainably.
Nintendo has proven brands in stock for 2020 and is likely to launch a variety of successful franchises. Sony and Microsoft have to keep pace and also convince with innovative technology, not with pure computing power. The only thing that can bring down Nintendo in 2020 is likely its own high expectations.
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