Nintendo breaks sales record with new Pokemon games on Switch

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet were released simultaneously on Nov 18 and sold over four million units at home in Japan. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - Nintendo’s latest blockbuster release for the Switch console is the company’s biggest debut on any platform, scoring 10 million sales globally in its first three days.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet were released simultaneously on Nov 18 and sold over four million units at home in Japan, also setting a new domestic record. The games are identical except for the line-up of characters and collectibles in each version. Nintendo had only recently reached its last domestic sales high with the well-received Splatoon 3 in September, auguring a successful holiday season for the game- and console-maker.

Nintendo shares were up by as much as 1.9 per cent in Tokyo on Thursday morning after the announcement.

“The sales record is not really a surprise, as the Pokemon brand seems invincible,” said industry analyst Serkan Toto. “What is interesting is that this particular game is plagued by bugs and glaring performance problems that really expose the age of the Switch hardware. But hardcore fans don’t care.”

Now five years old, Nintendo’s Switch console relies on big game launches to maintain momentum for its software and hardware sales. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was its runaway hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, when demand for home entertainment and gaming surged, but the latest Splatoon and Pokemon franchise entries have opened to even bigger sales.

Console rival Sony Group, for comparison, recorded its best first-party game launch in November with God Of War Ragnarok, which sold 5.1 million units over its first week.

Both Japanese entertainment giants have offered cautious forecasts for 2023, as demand wavered over the course of 2022. Nintendo sliced 10 per cent off its fiscal-year Switch console sales forecast in November, citing prolonged shortages in chip supply as part of the cause. Company executives have said they remain confident in the Switch’s appeal despite its age. BLOOMBERG

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