Analysis: Only 2 new games made Nintendo’s annual top 10 sellers list
Legacy sales dominated during the pandemic, with new and returning players flocking to Switch
Nintendo’s latest annual best sellers list is dominated by legacy games, with only two new releases in its top 10 for the year ending March 31, 2021.
The company’s latest first-party software sales update reveals that during the 12-month period, only remasters Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury made its top 10 sales list (and one of those has already been pulled from sale).
That’s compared to five new releases in its top 10 for the previous year (April 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020) and six in the year before that (April 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019).
The rest of the top 10 sellers are Animal Crossing: New Horizons (1), Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (2), Ring Fit Adventure (4), Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (6), Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (7), Super Mario Party (8), New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (9) and Pokémon Sword & Shield (10).
Although Nintendo’s software line-up has looked sparse compared to previous years, the strong sales of its legacy titles are likely driven by new players purchasing Switch hardware, and Covid-19 social restrictions giving people more time for gaming.
Nintendo’s best-selling games (Apr 1, 20 – Mar 31, 21)
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 20.85 (LTD 32.63m)
- Mario Kart 8: Deluxe – 10.62m (LTD 35.39m)
- Super Mario 3D All-Stars – 9.01m
- Ring Fit Adventure – 7.38m (LTD 10.11m)
- Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury – 5.59m
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – 5.01m (LTD 23.84m)
- Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 4.86m (LTD 22.28m)
- Super Mario Party – 4.69m (LTD 14.79m)
- New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – 3.84m (LTD 10.44m)
- Pokémon Sword & Shield – 3.73m (LTD 21.1m)
- Super Mario Odyssey – 3.42m (LTD 20.83m)
- Luigi’s Mansion 3 – 3.26m (LTD 9.59m)
- Clubhouse Games – 3.14m
- Paper Mario: The Origami King – 3.12m
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – 3.07m
- Splatoon 2 – 2.07m (LTD 12.21m)
- Pikmin 3 Deluxe – 2.04m
- Super Mario Maker 2 – 1.67m (LTD 7.15m)
- Xenoblade Chronicles DE – 1.52m
- Pokémon Let’s Go – 1.31m (LTD 13.28m)
Of course, Nintendo also has a long history of evergreen sales for its core franchises, and with most of its big hitters now out on Switch, the company has seemingly turned its attention to less popular franchises.
According to GSD data, which covers retail and digital sales across Europe, Australia and more, sales of new games dropped year-on-year during 2020, despite overall game sales having risen by 28% during the pandemic. This could suggest that increased interest in games was driven by those returning to the hobby, or trying it for the first time, rather than existing players.
That said, Nintendo had a relatively quiet release year in 2020. Even in its previous, non-pandemic fiscal year, only two of its new 2020 releases would have made the top 10 best-seller list.
The company released fewer than 10 first-party games in 2020, many of which were remasters such as the two Mario titles, Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury were the best-selling new releases during Nintendo’s FY21, followed by Clubhouse Games (3.14m), Paper Mario: The Origami King (3.12), Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (3.07m), Pikmin 3 Deluxe (2.04m) and Xenoblade Chronicles: Defintivie Edition (1.52m).
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, the toys-to-life title which retails for $100 / £100, managed 1.27m sales.
Nintendo showed that it can still enjoy success through remasters of previous titles, with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury selling over five million copies in less than seven weeks.
According to Bloomberg, Nintendo is planning a big rollout of new titles alongside an upgraded version of the Switch later this year.
The company’s official schedule includes Miitopia in May, Mario Golf: Super Rush in June, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD in July, and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl in late 2021.