A year after being branded a flop, Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids sequel, Sparks of Hope, has racked up nearly three million sales, VGC understands.
The sales momentum, which sources said was partly helped by discounting on the Nintendo eShop, means Sparks of Hope is performing roughly in line with the historical performance of the first game, which went on to reach 10 million players.
It’s worth noting that Ubisoft would likely have expected the sequel to have performed even better, given Switch’s significant growth since the original game was released in August 2017, and the significant install base of the original game.
Regardless, it changes the mood somewhat around a title that just a year ago was being branded a flop by the publisher.
Ubisoft declined to comment when approached in advance of publication of this story.
Despite strong reviews, Sparks of Hope disappointed commercially following its release in October 2022, with Ubisoft stating it was “surprised” by its underperformance during the final weeks of 2022.
CEO Yves Guillemot later suggested the sequel should have been held back for the Switch’s successor, since Nintendo regularly releases just a single instalment of its major franchises per system, and enjoys long and steady sales of each game.
The suggestion is that, by releasing two Mario + Rabbids games on the same platform, they may have cannibalised each other’s sales.
Speaking to VGC last summer, Mario + Rabbids series producer Cristina Nava claimed that the studio expected Sparks of Hope to sell over a long period of time, like its predecessor did.
“The first Mario + Rabbids had more than 10 million players,” Nava said. “Even though it’s Mario, it’s also a genre game: turn-based tactical adventure. So we cannot expect to sell high numbers at the very beginning, because a game like that is a slow burner.
“Even if at the beginning it seemed like Sparks of Hope didn’t meet expectations, we are confident that over a number of years it will grow. Because it’s been received, by both the press and the public, very, very well. It’s just a matter of giving it time, with word of mouth etc.”
Mario + Rabbids studio Ubisoft Milan is currently helping to finish Massive Entertainment’s Star Wars: Outlaws. Asked what it plans to do beyond that, Nava said it would lead another “big, compelling” game.