The battle for Black Friday 2017 is going to be the most interesting one yet. We run down what the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X and PS4/Pro are bringing to the table.
The last 3 months of a year are important for console manufacturers. In the period between October and December 25th, millions of consoles are sold world wide. It’s the run up to Christmas when millions of parents and partners are heading out to pick up gifts for their loved ones which crescendos on Black Friday (Friday, the 24th of November this year), the most hectic day of the year at retail stores.
For the past few years, The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have gone head to head with massive price cuts, incredible bundles and extensive advertising campaigns – but 2017 is different. There’s a new contender in the ring and it’s The Nintendo Switch. The supply strapped console/handheld hybrid has been selling out as quickly as they hit the shelves and it has plenty more in the tank for 2017. This is going to make for a very interesting Q4 this year with each console manufacturer approaching this year’s holiday rush with a different strategy, so we thought we’d detail how each console is lining up, starting with…
The Nintendo Switch – The Portable
Who thought that the Nintendo Switch would be so explosive out of the gates? Launching a console so early in the year is relatively uncharted waters but Nintendo have managed to ship almost 5m consoles to retailers in the fiscal Q1, eclipsing the numbers posted by the Wii U. A continual stream of console exclusives including Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Snipperclips, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Ultra Street Fighter II, Arms & Splatoon 2 have maintained the Switch’s impressive momentum and Nintendo can’t supply enough consoles to satisfy the demand.
This will be the main issue for Nintendo and the Switch this Christmas – Can they produce enough consoles to take advantage of the festive sales rush? Manufacturing seems to be the company’s biggest issue right now and they need to fix supply ASAP. They’ve still got a stellar lineup of exclusive titles set for the rest of 2017 with the likes of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Pokkén Tournament DX, Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 & Gear.Club Unlimited releasing between now and Christmas, but they need to stock the shelves at the right times to make the most of the sales boost they will offer.
The Switch is offering a real alternative to the competition and while many outlets expected sales to slow down after the launch, there’s still a real demand out there for it. With the impressive slate of games launching in the later half of this year, there’s a real chance The Switch could end up being this year’s hottest selling console – if Nintendo can actually produce enough of them that is.
The Xbox One X – The Power
For the majority of this console generation, the Xbox One has been playing second fiddle to the PS4 in both power and sales numbers. Microsoft are aiming to fix that with world’s most powerful console – the Xbox One X. Releasing on November 7th at a price of £449/$499, it’s aiming for the sweet spot to become the must have Christmas gift.
The first obstacle the Xbox One X will need to overcome is its price. At £449, it’ll be the most expensive console on the market this holiday seasons and it’ll need to show why it’s worth more than the PS4 and The Switch. To do that, it’s leveraging that extra power to give older games (such as Halo 5 & Gears 4) a new breath of life with 4K resolution and is launching alongside 2 new exclusives – Crackdown 3 and Forza Motorsport 7. They’re also carrying marketing deals with Assassin’s Creed Origins & Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (both of which will play at 4K resolution on the Xbox One X).
The Xbox One X is targeting the technically minded gamer who knows the difference between a teraflop and a flip flop. There will certainly be a number of current Xbox One owners that upgrade to the One X for the extra power and exclusive resolutions that it offers but, as all current Xbox One X games are playable on the standard Xbox One, that number will be limited. We’re more likely to see people who’ve not owned an Xbox One before use the X as a jumping on point. With the right marketing, the Xbox One X might shift millions this Christmas.
The PlayStation 4 – The Partnerships
Sony are playing out the same game plan they’re used for the past few years again in 2017 as they don’t have any new hardware to sell. As per their usual strategy, they’ve released the vast majority of their first-party games in the first half of the year – Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nioh, Wipeout: Omega Collection, etc – leaving just a handful of exclusive games to release during Q3-4. These include Knack 2, Everybody’s Golf, Gran Turismo Sport and Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.
Sony are more reliant on their third-party marketing partnerships deals this year. They’ve signed up exclusive deals with the biggest third-party releases such as FIFA 18, Call of Duty WWII, Star Wars: Battlefront II and Destiny 2 meaning that all of the TV adverts for these games will carry the PlayStation branding. They’re obviously hoping that the marketing of the biggest third-party games combined with the spaced out release of their own games will make the PS4 and PS4 Pro the hot product this year.
This strategy has worked for them in the past but 2017 is shaping up quite differently from previous years. With the attractive Switch floating around the same price as a PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X coming in with a significant advantage in power, Sony are likely to get squeezed this holiday season. If their tried and tested strategy to leave Q4 to the third-parties and piggy-back the marketing works however, they’re going to have a great festive sales rush.