According to market tracking and analyst firm SuperData, Sony’s PlayStation Network, and Microsoft’s Xbox Live generated $3 billion in revenues in 2016- an incredible number, and one which probably explains why Nintendo plans on transitioning to a paid subscription online model on the upcoming Nintendo Switch.
“The combined earnings for the subscription service for Sony and Xbox – PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, respectively – generated around $3 billion in revenues last year, and has proven a key component in transitioning consumers to the higher-margin side of the business in digital distribution. Total earnings for digital downloads on console last year, including full game downloads and micro-transactions, was $7 billion, worldwide,” SuperData said of the two services, noting that Nintendo themselves are probably looking at pushing digital sales on the new machine.
While Nintendo can hardly be blamed for wanting a piece of this pie, they ave not earned the confidence from customers to be able to get away with charging for online- their online offerings on Gamecube, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS were all dismal, and there is no reason to suggest that that will change with the Switch, especially since early indications aren’t the most encouraging. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo’s own online numbers look a year or so from now- hopefully their offering is better than it looks.