NPD analyst Mat Piscatella talks to GamingBolt about the future of Nintendo, next-gen predictions, and more.
GamingBolt recently had the chance to send across a few questions to NPD analyst Mat Piscatella- in our conversation, we talked about everything from the current generation, to immediate predictions about 2019, to where Nintendo might be headed with the Switch and beyond, to the potential of VR, and much more. Scroll down below for the full interview.
"I’m forecasting announcements in 2019 for 2020 launches for both PlayStation 5 and the next Xbox. However, I do think we’ve moved past the traditional generational model. I expect both manufacturers to add features that will further blur these lines."
Do you think there’s a chance that Sony tries to tap up the Nintendo Switch market by integrating its handheld and console hardware, which is something they’ve suggested they might think of doing?
While I’m sure they’re looking at all possible options, including this one, I’ve no particular guidance or insight on their internal decision-making process. The current market trend appears to be moving towards allowing people to access content wherever, whenever, so it could make some sense, but I’ve no idea if this is the way they’d like to go or not.
How likely do you think it is that Nintendo releases a Switch revision in the near future? If they do release one, what do you think it’ll be like?
Nintendo has a long history of releasing iterative models of its hardware. But I’ve no particular insight into whether they’ll do the same with Switch.
Given how unexpectedly well both the PS4 and the Xbox One have been performing in terms of sales even five years after their launch, do you think they both have enough juice left in them that Microsoft and Sony could even be considering not releasing next gen consoles for at least two to three more years?
I’m forecasting announcements in 2019 for 2020 launches for both PlayStation 5 and the next Xbox. However, I do think we’ve moved past the traditional generational model. I expect both manufacturers to add features that will further blur these lines.
"I forecast both PS4 and Xbox One hardware unit sales to decline in the single-digit percentages next year, but more because we’re nearing the latter stages of the cycle, and I don’t anticipate either making drastic moves on price."
Speaking of the PS4 and Xbox One’s sales, do you see this continuing in 2019? Both of them have some solid exclusives lined up for the year, but there’s also the chance that new console announcements might affect sales, right?
I forecast both PS4 and Xbox One hardware unit sales to decline in the single-digit percentages next year, but more because we’re nearing the latter stages of the cycle, and I don’t anticipate either making drastic moves on price. Both systems have done well in the US, but 2019 will likely be a transition year as we move into 2020.
You recently stated that the Xbox One X is seeing great sales. What is your data on PS4 Pro? Was the console as successful as the Xbox One X?
Both iterative models have done what I believe they were intended to. Xbox One X has been more meaningful to the total sales story on Xbox One than Pro has been to PS4’s. But both have been significant contributors to what we’re seeing happen in the market.
What’s your view on the never-ending debate about single player and multiplayer games? Games such as Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, and Overwatch have shown us that GaaS-style online games have a lot of life in them, but then again, first party titles from Sony and Nintendo show us that single player games have a lot of potential for great success as well. Given how more and more games have been trying to introduce “live service” type elements in their games, do you think single player games in general are going to – not die out, but change significantly in the coming years?
The single-player vs multiplayer debate that’s played out on Twitter and forums has never really been reflected in the market. The traditional $60 linear, 10 hour single-player story based game has often struggled in the current market, but that’s because consumer tastes have changed and now respond with greater enthusiasm to more open world settings, not because the single-player game is going away. Correlation =/= causation.
"I don’t see VR growing beyond a niche part of the gaming market, although it could become a successful niche."
I think it’s become pretty clear that gamers don’t mind cosmetic microtransactions too much in their games, but any time they come in the form of loot boxes (especially if they’re non-cosmetic, as Battlefront 2 showed us), that seems to provoke a strong reaction. Their randomized nature is something that has proven controversial, and yet recently Ubisoft confirmed that Trials Rising would have cosmetic loot boxes, which people didn’t like much. Why do you think publishers insist on having loot boxes in their games, and do you think it’s something that will eventually die out?
Randomized purchase packs have had great success with some games, and not as much with others. It’s not really about the mechanic, it’s more about how it is implemented in each individual game. If publishers implement mechanics that enhance a game, then I don’t see most consumers having a huge problem with them. Consumers ultimately have the final say, however, and what we see in the future will be dictated by the future response to these mechanics.
Do you think VR is has the potential to become an integral part of how we play games? Games like Astro Bot and Tetris Effect have recently shown that VR experiences can be excellent, so do you think that’s something developers and publishers will pay more attention to going forward? Or is it always going to be “another” way of playing games?
Gaming VR continues to struggle to reach the mass market. There are several barriers to entry for people, from the cost to the setup to the very nature of the experience (how many people with kids or pets can just shut themselves off from the world for hours?). I don’t see VR growing beyond a niche part of the gaming market, although it could become a successful niche.
Do you think Microsoft will likely launch its next console before the PS5?
I expect both PS5 and the next Xbox to arrive in 2020, but I could be wrong.
Many are saying that 2019 is too early for releasing PS5 and next Xbox. Do you think this could happen?
It could, but I don’t expect it.
"I’d be surprised if the PS5 were not backwards compatible with PS4 content."
Microsoft have, of course, already adopted backwards compatibility, and are investing in xCloud, and it’s likely they will be using these two to push the next Xbox as well. Do you see Sony adopting the same strategy to push PS5?
I’d be surprised if the PS5 were not backwards compatible with PS4 content, and Sony already has a streaming solution in market with PlayStation Now. It wouldn’t surprise me if both PlayStation 5 and the next Xbox took this type of approach, although I’m sure they’d do so in slightly different ways with different messaging.