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Analysts can't agree on Nintendo Switch potential

Estimates range from 5m to 10m

The games industry's leading analysts have highlighted just how difficult it is to predict how well Nintendo Switch will perform.

SuperData, DFC and Niko Partners' predictions range from 4.4m to 10m shipped by the end of 2017.

DFC thinks Nintendo Switch will sell 8.3m units in its first year, as detailed back in January, to eventually hit an install base of 40m.

IHS estimate a rather weak first year for Switch at just 4.4m, reaching 10m by year two and 30m by the end of 2021 - which is slightly ahead of Wii U.

SuperData, as revealed yesterday, have concerns over the Switch's price and software line-up and pencil year one as hitting just 5m units - which is slightly better than Wii U.

Finally, Niko Partners' Daniel Ahmad thinks the machine could ship 10m this year, although how it does beyond that he's not sure. That's stronger than most Nintendo launches, but behind that of Wii and PS4.

Much like previous consoles from the company, Nintendo is targeting an altogether different market to PS4 and Xbox One, and even a slightly different one to its previous machines - which makes estimating its potential difficult.

There are legitimate concerns about the price - if not of the console itself, then the accessories and games. Although it's possible Nintendo will address this if consumer uptake is sluggish, as it has done in the past with 3DS and GameCube.

There are also concerns about the relatively soft launch line-up and the rather sparse schedule throughout the year - although it's important to note major first-party IP including Zelda, Mario Kart, Mario and Splatoon are all scheduled to launch his year. It's also likely Nintendo is holding off many game announcements for E3 in June.

As we've observed twice now, it appears Nintendo is taking a softer approach to the launch of Switch than previous machines, although early retail reports is that the product is selling out in many locations.

We won't get an accurate picture of the Switch's potential for little while now. In the words of our very own Rob Fahey: "As with any risky new venture, keeping an open mind until the picture is clearer is going to serve any observer of the industry well."

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