Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is The Second-Best Selling Switch Game Ever

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is The Second-Best Selling Switch Game Ever
Image: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

For four years, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has been the top-selling title for Nintendo Switch. Now, its crown is being threatened by an unlikely contender: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While the title certainly has a dedicated fanbase, the success of New Horizons is unprecedented for the franchise.

In its latest financial report, Nintendo detailed its earnings over the last nine-month period. It included a detailed breakdown of sales figures for the latest Switch games, including the fact that Animal Crossing‘s first entry on Switch sold a whopping 31.18 million units, just behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s 33.18 million.

It’s an impressive statistic on its own, but when you consider Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s lifetime sales are calculated over a four-year period from 2017, and Animal Crossing only launched in March 2020, its success becomes much clearer. Part of this is likely due to the nature and timing of Animal Crossing‘s launch.

In Australia, the game landed during a period of uncertainty as shops shut down and everyone was forced to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you had a copy of the game, it was one of the few ways to still hang out and connect with friends, and this fuelled a solid six-month period where Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a haven for the socially isolated.

In a time when everything seemed gloomy, we all needed Animal Crossing.

Its sudden, booming popularity reflects the state of the world in 2020 and the desire for more wholesome, calming adventures. Given content is still rolling out in 2021 it’s likely Animal Crossing will maintain its longevity and remain one of Nintendo’s ‘big’ games for the year.

Should sales continue down the path they’re currently on, Animal Crossing will exceed the Mario franchise in popularity on the Switch — not bad at all for a cutesy life simulator.

So, what’s next for Animal Crossing?

animal crossing new horizons missing features
Image: Kotaku Australia

The sales data for Animal Crossing: New Horizons likely exceeds the expectations Nintendo placed on the franchise. Paired with the success of the Pocket Camp mobile spin-off and the popularity of Animal Crossing‘s amiibo card collectibles, it’s now clearer than ever there’s a robust market for the franchise.

It could mean a sequel to New Horizons won’t take eight years to arrive. It could mean more spin-offs like Happy Home Designer and Amiibo Festival. These were neat experiments that didn’t quite hit, but the Animal Crossing franchise is still ripe for other spin-offs like them.

An island designer game could be a neat addition to the franchise. As could another Mario Party-style adventure.

Whatever Nintendo’s plans for the future are, they’re likely to include Animal Crossing as a major flagship franchise going forward.

After decades occupying the B-tier of Nintendo games, it’s finally time for Animal Crossing to shine.


  • These numbers are just ridiculous! Especially considering animal crossing hasn’t even been out for a year yet. Has a game ever sold more copies in it first year? Especially one that’s only on one console and not even on PC.

    • Cross platform, I’m sure there have been bigger sellers. Something like one of the annual COD games probably dwarfs this. But on a single console in under a year? It’s incredibly impressive.

      • I thought you were into something here so I googled. Animal crossing is the 15th highest selling game ever. The highest cod game ever is modern warfare with 30mil sales.

        The only exclusive games inside the top 34 on the all time sales list belong to Nintendo. Heck, Sony doesn’t even get a mention until number 48 with the last of us and spider man selling 20 mil each. Just shows how big animal crossing is.

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