Animal Crossing: New Horizons Has Outsold Pokémon Sword & Shield in Japan

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Five weeks after launch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has sold over 3.6 million units at retail stores in Japan. That’s higher than life-to-date sales of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, which hit 3.57 million units in the region last week, 22 weeks since launch.

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Animal Crossing vs. Pokemon

Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s performance can be attributed to a few factors, the first being that the franchise enjoys the most diverse audience of any videogame brand in Japan. Unlike Pokémon, which is aimed primarily at children, Animal Crossing enjoys a large audience of both children and adults, male and female.

This helps Animal Crossing remain in step with its fans as they grow older. For example; when Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, a large number of Japanese women bought the device so they could play. A number of these women were between the ages of 19 and 24, and had played Animal Crossing: Wild World on the Nintendo DS when they were younger.

The other reason Animal Crossing: New Horizons is doing so well is more obvious: there’s a global pandemic spreading across the world, entire nations have advised people to stay indoors and avoid human contact, and Animal Crossing provides a lengthy, relaxing experience that people are finding comfort in.

Another few weeks and New Horizons will be the best-selling Animal Crossing game in Japan—a title currently held by Animal Crossing: Wild World on the Nintendo DS, which ended its legendary run at 5.24 million units sold. New Horizons is probably already closer than we think, since its 3.6 million sales figure only accounts for retail and doesn’t include digital downloads. The only thing holding it back is that the Nintendo Switch itself is currently facing shortages in Japan, and new shipments of the console have been low in recent weeks.

Sales data sourced from Famitsu and Game Data Library.


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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.