By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry



Game industry news outlet asked a number of analysts (including myself) for predictions how we think about the gaming business in 2020.

Here is a repost from my contribution to their article:

Last Year’s Predictions

Switch Pro and Lite for 2019 – 50% correct. (But I got the “Lite” brand name right!)

More third-party Switch software and one new game from the mega-franchises owned by EA, Activision or Take-Two – Correct. Switch is closing in on 3,000 titles and Overwatch was released.

No PS5 or new Xbox launch – Correct.

No breakthrough in gaming for crypto, blockchain, VR and AR – Correct.

No real competitor for Steam – Incorrect. Epic is shaping up to become a real PC platform powerhouse.

More China and Korea power in Japan – Correct. (For example, Tencent just launched its first mobile app in Japan using a significant marketing budget.)

2020 Predictions

Switch Pro launch – There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nintendo will launch a “Switch Pro” in 2020, my guess is at $399. More specifically, I predict 4K support, bigger cartridge sizes, and of course beefed-up components. I also think the device will launch after the summer holidays to counter the roll-out of the PS5 and next-gen Xbox later in the year – along with a first-party, system-seller game.

More Microsoft games on the Switch – The love affair between Microsoft and Nintendo is likely to continue, with more big Xbox games landing on the Switch. I am skeptical about xCloud coming to the Nintendo device in 2020, however.

Similar launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X – Both consoles will be a lot more similar to each other in terms of specs, pricing and features when compared to the last generation. Microsoft will likely avoid shenanigans like higher price (I expect $499 price tags for both), weaker specs, restrictions to used disc sales etc. I also expect no handheld versions, a PSVR 2, and only a single device (instead of a PS5 standard and Pro, for example) for both companies at launch.

Cloud gaming will have its first big moment – After Google’s more than rough start with Stadia in late 2019, 2020 should bring us a first glimpse into how decent cloud gaming could look like in the future and at scale. Amazon and Netflix will announce their cloud gaming plans. My money here is on xCloud and its mobile support out of the gate, supported by 5G.

Further rise of subscriptions – I expect Sony to finally roll PlayStation Now and Plus into one price in 2020. Microsoft is also likely to add xCloud to one of their already existing service bundle deals. Next year, Nintendo will also add N64 games to Switch Online. These services mark a major turning point for the business model of video gaming – even though on mobile, I predict Apple Arcade to lose its thunder in 2020 already.

Spectacular game on mobile from Nintendo – At the time of writing, Nintendo still hasn’t announced what comes after Mario Kart Tour for smart devices. The follow-up must be a big name, so I expect another hit franchise from the company to land on mobile in 2020, i.e. a Zelda app or Smash Bros (don’t laugh) co-developed with a new partner. Next year should also see the release of the first Nintendo apps in mainland China.

About the author

Dr. Serkan Toto

I am the CEO & Founder of Tokyo-based Kantan Games Inc., an independent consultancy focused on Japan’s game industry.

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By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry