March 27th, 2020, 10:44 Posted By: wraggster
The success of Animal Crossing reflects the game itself to some extent; Nintendo's most eclectic top-tier IP built up gradually and steadily from humble beginnings, gently ingratiating itself over the course of 19 years and five releases. It's only now that it's dawning on us just how addicted the world actually is to this calmly unassuming little toybox with its charming style, relaxed pace and quirky animal pals.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons outsold both Pokémon Sword & Shield combined on its release in Japan last week, and has performed extraordinarily well in every other market as well; it's almost certainly the biggest single launch weekend for a Switch game thus far, and given Nintendo's remarkable ability to cultivate the longest of long tails for its games, it's also likely to be one of 2020's best sellers overall.
There's a risk that the huge success of New Horizons will be dismissed as an unusual offshoot of the COVID-19 pandemic Honestly, if you'd suggested only a few years ago that Animal Crossing was going to be a franchise with commercial clout rivalling that of Pokémon or Zelda, quite a few people would have assumed that you'd lost your marbles -- one too many late nights spent chatting to talking animals, perhaps. That the franchise was successful and popular is clear, of course, but there's always been a sense of it as an odd little Nintendo side-project rather than a top-ranked franchise. That sense is borne to a large extent from the difficulty a lot of people in the industry have with actually wrapping their heads around Animal Crossing; something so peculiar and so wilfully tangential to almost everything else the industry does must surely only be a curious experiment, after all.
This time around, there's probably a risk that the absolutely gigantic success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons -- both critical and commercial success and, perhaps most importantly of all, cultural success, with the game being discussed widely across social media since its launch -- will be dismissed as being some unusual offshoot of the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, that explanation is floating around in some quarters; Nintendo has had a remarkable hit because it's in the right place at the right time, with a gently sociable escapist fantasy launching right as much of the world goes into lockdown and quarantine.
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