Nintendo and Sony published sales figures for Switch and PlayStation 4, respectively, this week, and the two consoles are cleaning the house. If you are looking for a reason why these two consoles have soared to the top so fast, you can probably attribute them to both consoles, the console exclusives line.
Sony’s PS4 reached the milestone of 100 million consoles sold in the last six years. It has reached that milestone faster than any other console, except the Nintendo DS (Ars Technica provided some useful numbers for reference). One of the things he boasts of his rivals is a list of exclusive launch. Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Spider-Man, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Person 5: the list goes on a bit.
The Switch is also publishing excellent numbers. Nintendo updated its hardware numbers, listing Switch sales as 36.87 million units. Given that only one third have been on the market as long as their peers, that is also an admirable number. The Switch has more exclusive games than you can shake: only in the coming months, will we get Astral Chain, Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Pokemon Sword & Shield.
Meanwhile, the Xbox One is behind its competition: we can’t be sure how much, since Microsoft hasn’t published sales numbers for the One in a while. But it is estimated that the console has less than half of its Sony counterpart. And its exclusive console list is not exactly as impressive as its rivals. There are the usual Gears of War, Forza and Halo, but they have been so separated during the six-year life of the console that they have not done much to increase sales. Sure, there have been occasional surprises, like Cuphead, but most of them were released simultaneously on the PC.
I think sales also prove that you need third-party exclusives more than anything. It’s not that I expect anyone to remember it, but the Wii U is technically in the same generation as the PS4 and the Xbox One. The Wii U had a series of first-party Nintendo games, but no third-party titles. And the first part titles had nothing to highlight: no new legend of Zelda, a 2D Mario in the basement of the bargain. In addition, although Switch has several of Nintendo’s usual suspects (Smash Bros, Zelda, etc.), it has also brought dozens of third-party games to bolster its appeal, including exclusive ones such as Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
The conclusion of this, I hope, is that the next generation of consoles will also invest in console exclusive. Until now, the focus on the next consoles has focused on how they will incorporate the likes of virtual reality or the transmission of games. But the sales of the current generation seem to support the idea that they will be exceptional exclusive games, not technology, which will sell the Scarlett Project and the PS5.
Even so, despite how impressive the sales figures are, the two consoles have not yet managed to rank in the top five in the list of best sellers (if you have handheld computers, what I do). Both will have to compete with their predecessors: Wii, GameBoy and DS in the case of Nintendo, PS1 and PS2 in Sony. Eventually, the Switch could reach such high heights, but the meteoric rise of the PS4 will surely be damped when it is replaced in a year or so.