Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to a super-special Media Create day!
This is an exciting week, with the launch of Nintendo’s anticipated Switch console, as well as the long-delayed Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This is also my first time talking up a major console launch, so here’s hoping I don’t blow it. :)
Joking aside, it’s a fantastic week with a few huge new entries across the board. As expected, though, there will be a bit of an extended Nintendo portion, as this is the début week. There’s just a lot more to say right now.
Anyway, let’s get to the numbers!
Let’s today’s huge story out of the way first: Nintendo’s Switch launched on March 3, which gives us three full days of numbers. In those three days, Switch software managed to capture five spaces on the big board. Looking at Famitsu’s numbers, two others managed to claim spots in the very close under-charts. I’ll highlight these in an addendum.
Overall, though, titles on the Big N’s hardware managed to claim eleven spaces in the top-20 this period, with five Switch titles, five 3DS games, and a Wii U title making the cut.
This week, Hylian hero Link took top billing with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch). Nintendo’s latest forway into the Zelda franchise took first place, with 186,379 Switch fans eagerly climbing every mountain and chopping down every tree, just because they could. The Wii U version also charted, with 44,602 sales and a fourth-place finish. Combined, the two SKUs sold through 230,981 copies.
Looking at Famitsu’s trackers, this wasn’t a total sell-out. Rather, both SKUs moved 60-80% of their initial allocation. This is a strong opening, though, and the title’s already outperforming Twilight Princess (163,911 – combined GCN/Wii) and Skyward Sword (194,978). Looking at the Switch-Specifics, we’re looking at a 56.62% attach rate for the launch weekend.
For those who weren’t in the mood for adventure, 1-2-Switch (Switch) seemed to be the other heavy hitter from the launch window. The quirky minigame collection captured third place, as 79,536 fans “milked cows”, gobbled sandwiches, or drew pistols at high noon. And, as a demo for the hardware, I’d argue 1-2-Switch did fairly well. We’re looking at a 24.16% attach rate, and 60-80% sell-through.
That said, I do want to see what the legs on both titles will be. I’m foreseeing the standard 75-85% drop for Zelda due to the nature of the title and historical performance trends. 1-2-Switch is a bit harder to call, though. We might see a more shallow decline for the title, as it’s a more social title, making it more open to word-of-mouth sales. But (there’s always a but), there’s also a chance that, as these are the two big titles for March, we could see some hold-over for both. As one finishes with Zelda, they eye 1-2-Switch and vice versa. Amazon’s showing Breath of the Wild as holding second place as of today (3/8/2017), so this could become a short-term case study.
Speaking of case studies, let’s take a look at how Konami didn’t totally botch this launch period! Super Bomberman R (Switch) managed to shift 36,623 copies to blow up sixth place. This is the best showing in the series since 2000, when Bomberman Land hit the original PlayStation. It’s hard to overstate that, for a long-dormant franchise, this is fantastic. In short: Bomberman is back, baby!
Sadly, the launch hype didn’t seem to affect the late ports in the Switch’s launch lineup. Dragon Quest Heroes I & II (Switch), a compilation pack that combines the two titles into one convenient cart, sold through just 25,606 units. This is about 40-60 of the initial launch allocation, and clearly far from expectations of both retailers and Square Enix alike. As for the “why” on this, well.. that’s a bit harder to place. The late port, combined with a high price tag (9,504 yen – $82.93 USD) creates a bit of a disincentive at the outset, especially when the two games can be bought individually on other platforms for a combined 7,800 – 8,800 yen ($68.08 – $76.80 USD).
Sadly, it looks like the Heroes have fallen in with the company of Jokers. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 – Professional (3DS) managed to hold onto its 9th place position this period, with 13,426 units reaching customers (163,058 LTD). This week also saw the title crossing the 150K milestone, while making great strides toward the 175K mark.
Then, there’s the sad tale of puzzle country. Puyo Puyo and Tetris are institutions in the gaming world – perfect for gaming on the go. So, that said, Puyo Puyo Tetris would be a natural fit for the Switch’s hybrid format, right? Apparently, not when Sega’s charging 4,990 yen ($43.61) for a three-year-old port. The title dropped into 10th place, landing a couple of lines with 12,854 customers. Looking at the Famitsu charts, this is about 20-40% sell-through. But, of course, this is also a title that could be had for as little as 1,950 yen ($17.04 USD) on the 3DS by this point.
For those looking to escape the Wild and the Jokers, though, Alola still awaits. Pokémon Sun & Moon sold through another 12,292 copies this period (3,189,271 LTD) to take 12th place. Combined with the sales of the double pack bundle, which sits at 157,492 last charting, this brings lifetime sales to 3,346,763. The title is poised to cross 3.35 million next week, and continues to show a lot of life. I’m genuinely curious to see how lifetime sales suss out – especially if rumors of Pokémon Stars turn out to be true.
The legion of people looking to build a better Mario Trap also continued to grow this period. Super Mario Maker 3DS moved another 7,042 units (983,867 LTD) to take 16th place. Given the flat sales over the past few weeks, I’m still holding strong that the title can break a million by the end of the month. We’re looking at just 16,133 units left in that gap, which should easily be broken within three weeks.
It seems that the spectral spirits of Yo-Kai Watch have taken a bit of a tumble, well… kind of. Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki (3DS) dropped down to 18th this period, with 5,980 copies reaching customers (681,240 LTD). It should be noted, though, that sales are basically flat – we saw a 2% dip – so the decline is a bit exaggerated by the recent console watch. I’m curious to see how the charts suss out next week, after the dust has settled.
That said: This week was not a good one to launch a movie tie-in cash grab game. 3DS title Doraemon the Movie: Nobita no Nankyoku Kachikochi Daibouken stumbled to 20th, selling just 5,481 units for the period.
Addendum – Switch Launch Software
I’m sure you’re noticing a pattern, in this week’s Switch numbers – the new and original titles did incredibly well on the Switch’s big launch day, while these late ports just tanked. It’s not just limited to Dragon Quest Heroes and Puyo Puyo Tetris, either. Disgaea 5 Complete staggered into 21st place on Famitsu’s charts, selling fewer 5,065 units on their tracker (20-40% sell-through). Likewise, I Am Setsuna performed even worse, with 4,625 hitting customers’ hands (Famitsu’s numbers, again) and a 22nd place finish (20-40% sell-through).
Heck – I couldn’t even find sales numbers for Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence with Power-Up Kit, which barely limped into the charts at 44th place.
That said, It appears that we’re starting to see a bit of a tone set, here – people want new, they want original. And, most important, they don’t want to pay that 1,000+ yen “new console tax” for old content. I’m going to draw the line with Mario Kart, though – I still expect great sales there because, well, it’s freakin’ Mario Kart.
This launch definitely has some signals for publishers to decode. It’ll be interesting to see who picks up on what, as we look toward the next wave of games.
Now, for some good news: Media Create is reporting that about 351,000 Switch games were sold in the launch period – that’s about a 1:1 sales margin – specifically, it’s 1.07:1 – so games are selling, though most people are buying one game with the console right now.
On the Hardware Front
This week, all eyes are on the Switch. Nintendo’s newest hardware sold 329,152 units at launch. This is a fantastic début, with the tracking group at Dengeki pegging a 95% sell-through. They basically sold everything available, give or take 20,000 units. So, fantastic work, Nintendo – you did good.
The 3DS certainly wasn’t a slouch this week, though. The handheld moved 23,848 units for the period, which was enough to claim third place. The Wii U, meanwhile, saw a tiny Zelda bump – rising to 565 units for the week.
Though all eyes were on Nintendo this period, that doesn’t mean that PlayStation fans can’t make some impressive marks on the charts. This week saw nine PlayStation family titles appearing in the big board, with eight PS4 games and a Vita game (hint: it’s not Minecraft) making the cut.
Before we begin, though, I’d like to take a moment to say a short farewell to Minecraft – the Vita’s little game that could, which defied so many expectations and lasted nearly two full years in the top-20. though it’ll likely reappear sporadically, this is the end of its continuous run, which does make me a little misty-eyed.
Anyway! While Link was exploring new horizons and climbing every damn thing in sight like a blue-clad Spider-Man, PlayStation 4 owners had their own meaty adventure to tear into. Horizon: Zero Dawn smashed into second place this period, with 116,997 units sold. Famitsu pegs sell-through at 80-100%, so this game sold out completely. Considering that this is a western game in a new franchise, this is a fantastic result. I do expect to see this drop heavily next week due to lack of stock, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Horizon grow legs and ultimately cross 150-200K before it officially exits the charts.
For those looking for something more esoteric (or more android booty), NieR: Automata (PS4) continues to have a strong hold in the big board. Yoko Taro and Platinum’s joint venture sold through another 38,002 copies this period (236,545 LTD) to take fifth place. For second week sales, an 81% drop is quite good for an action-RPG – typically, due to front-loading, we see an 85% decline. So, to see the title buck the trend bodes well. We should see Nier cross the quarter-million mark by next sales period.
Not far behind, we see that the giant robots continue to bring the boys to the yard. Super Robot Wars V‘s PS4 SKU boosted to 8th place, with 15,321 units sold (115,475). The Vita version also charted at 11th place, with 12,813 copies reaching customers (96,546). Both SKUs saw an expected 85% drop week-over-week, which indicates that we’re probably looking at a bog-standard sales trajectory. Sales are lower, but this may be due to the Asian version finally including Chinese language support. We may see that bump come in on the Asian edition, as a result.
Of course, there’s something to be said about a game that’ll just stomp you into the dirt from time to time. Nioh, Team Ninja’s samura-flavored take on the “Souls” formula, shifted another 10,210 copies this period (128,824 LTD) to take 13th place. The title did break 125K, which is an encouraging sign. I do wonder, though, where the numbers will ultimately come to rest by the time it exits the big board.
You know, I really have to hand it to Rockstar. It’s rare to find a company that can put a game out on the XBox 360 and PS3, and have it remain consistently viable at market for nearly four straight years and two console generations. Grand Theft Auto V‘s (PS4) “New Price” discount SKU continues to hang tough in the charts, selling thorugh 7,357 units (291,327) to take 14th place. This re-release is poised to cross 300K, on top of the original release’s performance, followed by the PS4 remaster’s sales. That’s nothing short of freaking impressive.
Speaking of the 300K club, the Baker family seems to be getting pretty big at this point. Resident Evil 7: biohazard (PS4) managed to move another 7,176 copies (291,666 LTD) to shamble to 15th place. The title should cross 300K in two weeks.
Sadly, it appears that honor is limping about the battlefield at this point. For Honor (PS4) dropped donw to 17th this period, with 6,435 units sold. We’ll likely see the game cross 75K, but I don’t see the title going much further than that.
The PlayStation family closed things off like any responsible person of a certain age: they headed to the track! Winning Post 8 (PS4) debuted at 19th place this period, with 5,793 units sold.
On the Hardware Front
The PlayStation 4 took second place in this week’s hardware race, with 37,807 units sold. of those, 6,742 were PS4 Pro consoles. We should see the PS4 break 4.5 million lifetime-to-date (and the Pro crossing 200K) next week.
The Vita managed to capture fourth place this time around, with 9,889 handhelds reaching customers. The PS3, meanwhile, continues its happy journey in the bottom of the charts – the console sold through 615 units this period, which was enough to take the #5 spot.
In the game of snooker, a Maximum Break, or “maximum” is achieved at 147 points. Also called a “one-four-seven,” a Maximum Break is earned by sinking all fifteen red balls with fifteen black balls (120 points), followed by all six coloured balls (27 points). Basically, it’s a perfect game. The first maximum was recorded in 1955, when pro player Joe Davis achieved it during an exhibition match. To date, only 129 maximum breaks have been recorded, with the lion’s share going to British players.
In the world of console sales, 147 XBox Ones sold likely has a few Microsoft employees hoping that last week’s passable sales were the maximum performance for the year.