Pokemon Sword and Shield Are The First Pokemon Game Of the Millenia to sell 20m

Published: February 1, 2021 10:28 AM /



Nintendo's financial report following holiday 2020 is out, and there's a lot to unpack here. While no one is surprised that the hybrid console is selling well, I don't think even Nintendo expected the Switch to sell this well. Following is a roundup of all the important notes, from Pokemon's phenomenal sales to the COVID-fueled power of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Switch sales


First, the console itself. The Nintendo Switch (including the Switch Lite) has now sold 80 million units in just under four years. Since it's both a handheld and a console, it's worth looking at how it charts on both fronts. The Switch is the 7th best-selling home console of all time, following the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 1, The Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in that order. By the end of 2021, I anticipate that it'll be safely in 5th place. The Switch is also the 3rd best-selling handheld, following the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance and barely skating by the PSP. It has also now passed the Nintendo 3DS' lifetime sales. A little over halfway through its life cycle, the Nintendo Switch is one of the fastest-selling consoles of all time.

Now for the games. Even after large backlash and calls for boycotting over the removal of the National Dex from Pokemon Sword and Shield, the long-running monster-catching games have sold over 20 million units worldwide. This puts Generation 8 safely in third place in the franchise's storied history, falling behind only Generation 1 (Red and Blue) at 31 million and Generation 2 (Gold and Silver) at 23 million. With the explosive sales growth even a year after Sword and Shield's launch, it's safe to predict that the Generation 8 games will become the 2nd best-selling games in the franchise by the end of the year. It is worth noting that unlike most past generations Pokemon Sword and Shield hasn't had a third game released, instead using DLC to continue the story and revamp the game some. Counting third releases pushes it down the comparison list some, but it also easily outsells the other generation without a follow-up game, X and Y.

Tepid reception from critics and fans alike doesn't seem to have slowed Pokemon down one bit; coming in at an 80 on Metacritic, Sword and Shield are the second lowest-rated mainline games in the franchise, with only Emerald coming in lower with a 79. The power of Pokemon can't be understated - with the huge install base of the Switch and the renewed love of the franchise fueled by Pokemon Go,  the series is back and bigger than ever.


Pokemon Sword and Shield are now the highest-selling JRPG's of the last decade. Followed by spin-offs Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee with 13 million sales, the Nintendo Switch is the exclusive home of the two most popular JRPGs of the last ten years. Driven largely by COVID, Ring Fit Adventure has sold roughly 5 million copies since March 2020. Somewhat surprisingly, this places it as the fourth best-selling single-player JRPG of that same time frame, following only Pokemon and Final Fantasy XV, and it may have sold more if not for supply constraints on the ring-con earlier in 2020.


Additionally, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has now sold 31 million units in just 9 months. As far as we can tell based on stats, this makes New Horizons the fastest-selling console exclusive of all time. With its perfectly-timed release just as quarantine measures went into effect worldwide, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the second best-selling game on the Switch, following Mario Kart 8 DX at 33 million. Animal Crossing will likely outsell Mario Kart by next quarter. Even adding up Super Mario Odyssey and Super Mario 3D All-Stars sales, mainline Mario games just can't keep up with Nintendo's island life simulator. There's a new King at Nintendo, and his name is Nook (and he wants all of your money).


Nintendo's other franchises are knocking it out of the park as well. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (21 million), Super Mario Party (13 million), Luigi's Mansion 3 (9 million), Pikmin 3 Deluxe (2 million), Splatoon 2 (13 million), Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (1.4 million), Fire Emblem: Three Houses (3.5 million), Paper Mario: The Origami King (3 million) and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (22 million) are all the best-selling titles in their respective franchises. In fact, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best-selling fighting game of all time by a long shot, punching out classic champion Street Fighter 2. It's also worth noting that with 5.4 million units shipped, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is already the best-selling musou game of all time after just two months.

With no sign of the Switch or its exclusive software slowing down, it's hard to believe Nintendo would have a reason to release the rumored Switch Pro this year. When asked about it, Nintendo CEO stated there was no plan to announce new revisions. So long as they keep producing first-party titles of this caliber, they can continue playing in their own lane while Xbox and PlayStation vie for power in another market entirely.


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