COVID-19 combined with a new Animal Crossing is a perfect storm for Nintendo sales.
Nintendo lucked out with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game released just as the United States bunkered down for forced COVID-19 quarantines, so gamers could still go to stores and grab a copy. As a result of this accidental opportunism, Animal Crossing has skyrocketed as March's best-selling console game in the global and U.S. markets. It's a veritable beast that's taken a big chomp out of the competition--and Nintendo Switch availability.
Analyst firm SuperData says Animal Crossing has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling single-month game in console history.
"The Nintendo-published title broke the console record for monthly digital game sales previously held by Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII. Animal Crossing: New Horizons also roughly matched the first-month digital sales of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokemon Sword and Shield put together. The game's combination of social features and a relaxing setting likely appealed to individuals stuck at home. Closures of brick and mortar stores also meant that a higher share of consumers purchased the game digitally compared to past Switch titles," SuperData reports.
SuperData also notes the total global digital games market has skyrocketed to $10 billion in March, the highest-earning month in gaming history.
The NPD Group likewise reports strong sales. Animal Crossing was the top-selling physical game in the U.S. in March. Animal Crossing also helped smash previous Switch sales records in the U.S. The NPD Group's Mat Piscatella says Switch sales doubled from March 2018, and the system's current sales eclipse the Switch's launch numbers in March 2017.
"Nintendo Switch set a new all-time record for hardware unit sales in a March month, besting the previous high set by Nintendo Switch in its March 2017 launch month," Piscatella said on Twitter.
"Nintendo Switch hardware sales more than doubled when compared to a year ago, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One each grew by more than 25 percent."
Nintendo has yet to announce exact figures via a press release, but expect that to happen soon.