SuperData expects Nintendo's Switch console to finish the year with 5 million units sold, but a lack of compelling software in its early months will likely result in a slow start.
An "absence of strong launch titles" is one factor that will contribute to that slow start, but it's not the only one. The Switch's $300 price, without a bundled game, is considered a "higher barrier to entry" than either of of its perceived competitors. "PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are already discounted and come with a free game," SuperData said.
"Nintendo is gearing up for a slow-and-steady release of its new console," the company continued, implying that Nintendo's measured approach is a deliberate ploy. "Launching much earlier in the year than its predecessors, we expect the Switch to initially appeal mostly to the loyal fanbase, before a broader, more mainstream audience adopts it."
"Earnings for Super Mario Run did not succeed in convincing investors that Nintendo has an airtight mobile strategy"
According to SuperData, Nintendo's "biggest challenge" will be the fact that its loyal fanbase likely already owns a PS4 or Xbox One, with 53.4 million and 26 million units sold respectively.
The Switch, then, will largely be purchased as a "second device," and probably on the strength of first-party titles software like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a launch title, and Super Mario Odyssey, which will launch at the end of this year.
"Investors are looking for a solid win by Nintendo that at least approximates the success of the Wii, which sold 101.63M units," SuperData said, also mentioning the disappointing performance of the Wii U. "And despite a strong marketing push by Apple, earnings for Super Mario Run did not succeed in convincing investors that Nintendo has an airtight mobile strategy.
"Initially a platform exclusive, the game based on Nintendo's powerhouse franchise Super Mario was downloaded 78 million times, according to Nintendo, but only about 4 million people actually paid the $10 for the full game."
Five million sales by the end of the year would certainly be a slow start relative to the competition. PlayStation 4, the market leader, sold 5.3 million units in less than three months, beating its own forecast for that amount by seven weeks. The precise moment that Xbox One passed 5 million isn't officially documented, but Microsoft confirmed 3.9 million units shipped two months out from launch.
However, 5 million units sold in 10 months would be an improvement over the Wii U, which sold 5.86 million units in the near 14-month period between its launch in November 2012 and the end of December 2013.