Amiibo Intro Skit
Tommy: Sales are down Timmy, nobody has been shopping here for a while.
Timmy: I wonder where everybody’s been, Tommy! Why isn’t anybody visiting our shop anymore?
Timmy&Tommy: A CUSTOMER!
Isabelle: Timmy! Tommy! Have you heard about the Nintendo Switch? Do you have it in stock?
Timmy&Tommy: We do! It comes with some great games. Zelda, Mario, Splatoon 2.
Isabelle: What about Animal Crossing?
Timmy&Tommy: Uuuuuh…No word on that game yet.
Isabelle: It’s worse than I thought! Do they think Animal Crossing doesn’t sell!?
Animal Crossing Switch Would Sell Great!
Does Animal Crossing make Nintendo a lot of money? The other day I was driving into work listening to youtube when a youtuber casually stated that it doesn’t sell like Pokemon. While that may be true in some sense, the two franchises are difficult to compare. But I’ll get into that a little later. This week, let’s get into the sales figures for Animal Crossing and how they could play a role in the announcement of Animal Crossing Switch.
How Animal Crossing Games Have Sold
So let’s start with the first question. Does Animal Crossing sell? Looking at a list from the Video Game Sales Wiki page, we can see that the top 10 selling Nintendo franchises are Mario, Pokemon, Wii Series, the Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Game and Watch, Super Smash Bros, Kirby, Brain Age, and Animal Crossing. That’s right, Animal Crossing is in the top ten of Nintendo’s best sellers list.
One thing that is unique about Animal Crossing is that it isn’t as highly represented as many of these other franchises. For example, the list of Mario, Pokemon, Zelda, and Kirby games seem almost endless. Meanwhile, Animal Crossing only consists of 6 games. 4 mainline games and 2 spinoffs. Almost forgot to mention, I will not be taking into account the mobile games in these counts, but they will come up a bit later.
Regardless, Animal Crossing has managed to sell 32.4 million units without too much representation. Other games on the top ten that have made a similar impact with few games are Super Smash Bros and Brain Age. Super Smash Bros has only had 5 titles and Brain Age has had 3. Each of these games have managed to make a big enough impact to break into the top ten.
Both Animal Crossing Wild World and Animal Crossing New Leaf sold over 11 million units. Wild World sold 11.75 million units and New Leaf sold 11.69 million units. This is incredible considering only 3 Zelda games have broken 10 million units. A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Breath of the Wild have sold over 10 million units. The rest of the Zelda franchise hasn’t gotten to the level of Animal Crossing sales.
It is important to note that the handheld versions of Animal Crossing have sold better than the console versions and the spinoffs have sold even less than the console versions. However, the Switch is a Hybrid console that offers fans of the series several ways to enjoy the game. Whether it is handheld or on the big screen, you can enjoy your town whichever way you prefer.
How Do Animal Crossing Sales Compare to Pokemon Sales?
Let’s get to that Pokemon comparison. Like I said, Pokemon has sold much more than Animal Crossing, but it’s had far more games. Also, Pokemon game sales work fundamentally differently than Animal Crossing’s sales.
Pokemon is number two on the list, however, it can be hard to compare those numbers to Animal Crossing’s numbers. Pokemon has not only had tons of spinoff games throughout the year, the sales tactics of their mainline games make it a huge money maker. We have always seen Pokemon games come out in pairs. From Red and Green in Japan to Red and Blue in other markets, Pokemon has always used the brilliant tactic of providing two versions of the same game with slight variations.
While many consumers buy only one version of Pokemon, there is a good set of people who buy both versions upon release. This leads to much larger sales for Pokemon games on the whole. Meanwhile, Animal Crossing has always released a single version of the game to consumers. While the experience for each player may be different because of the nature of Animal Crossing, the single package still contains all the contents of the game.
The Pokemon Franchise has sold 301.5 million units while the Animal Crossing franchise has sold 32.4 million units. On the surface it definitely looks like Pokemon is a much better seller, however, the pokemon franchise is made up of 53 games including mainline and spinoff titles. Meanwhile, the Animal Crossing franchise is made up of 6 games. The average pokemon game sells 5.69 million copies while the average Animal Crossing game sells 5.4 million copies.
Now, I know that comparison can be a bit unfair because the Pokemon spinoffs don’t sell nearly as much as the mainline games. So let’s just take a look at the numbers for mainline titles. There are 4 mainline Animal Crossing games and 29 mainline Pokemon games. Animal Crossing has sold 30.08 million units through it’s mainline games and Pokemon has sold 227.66 million units through its mainline games. The average mainline Animal Crossing game sells 7.52 million units. The average mainline Pokemon game sells 7.85 million units.
There is only a 330,000 unit difference between the mainline Animal Crossing games and mainline Pokemon games. Of course, each mainline game for Pokemon is often made up of 2 to 3 different games. Animal Crossing is different because each mainline game consists of one version of the game that could potentially be played forever.
Animal Crossing is a series that can be played far longer than the average 30 hour play through of Pokemon games. I myself have logged over 1000 hours on New Leaf. It is hard to put out Animal Crossing games as often as Pokemon because the games have a long lifespan.
The game is essentially intended to be played over the course of a year. Even then, you may have missed some things during the year and have to play through another year to catch certain fish and bugs. It doesn’t make much sense to put out a new mainline Animal Crossing game every year.
Spinoff Animal Crossing Sales Aren’t Too Great…
I mentioned a bit earlier that Animal Crossing spinoffs haven’t sold as well as the rest of the franchise. Happy Home Designer sold 3.04 million units and amiibo Festival sold less than 1 million. On top of that Kimishima revealed that Nintendo has yet to reach a satisfactory level of revenue through its mobile games.
Pocket Camp isn’t performing as well as they hoped. Even Super Mario Run has been struggling to pull in the money. The mobile game that has been most successful in sales has been Fire Emblem Heroes. Of course, Nintendo has been making changes to Pocket Camp to help it increase revenue.
While I see these things helping the game pull in more money, it seems as though the best money makers for Nintendo in regards to Animal Crossing are the mainline games. I could see the hybrid experience the Switch offers for gamers really benefit the Animal Crossing series giving more ways to enjoy their game.
E3 will also mark 5 years since the last mainline game has come out. I know I said it doesn’t make sense to release a mainline Animal Crossing every year, but every 5 years doesn’t seem troublesome.
Earlier in the year, Kimishima stated that their goal for 2018 was to sell 20 million switch units. It makes sense that Nintendo would put out big selling games that could help it achieve its goal of 20 million units in this year. Nintendo has since announced Super Smash Bros for 2018 and Pokemon for 2018 or 2019.
Both of these games would be heavy hitters for Nintendo. Of course, I do think they want to maintain the momentum and have even more huge sellers out in 2019. I can see Animal Crossing being the heavy hitting Switch title for 2019 and I think it would continue promoting Switch hardware sales.
Find Tons of Animal Crossing Switch Content!
Thank you for watching this episode! Tune in every Friday until E3, for a new episode of Is It Time for Animal Crossing Switch where we’ll look at a different aspect of Animal Crossing and why I think it is time for it to get announced.
If you need more Animal Crossing content in your life, listen to Haken: An Animal Crossing Podcast. My podcast about all things Animal Crossing. New episodes come out every Tuesday!
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