Thousands of fans all around the world eagerly awaited the March 20 release of Nintendo Switch title Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Stuck inside due to "social distancing" regulations passed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, many gamers found Animal Crossing's debut to be perfectly timed. New Horizons, the fifth main title in the beloved life-simulator series, allows players to populate and develop a tropical island. Only three days past release, the game has already provided an escape from the current situation in the form of fishing, bug catching, home decorating and more.
Given the circumstances, it's not surprising that Animal Crossing: New Horizons' opening week of sales has already broken several records. In the United Kingdom, it was reported that the game's launch was three and a half times larger than that of the previous entry in the series—2013's Animal Crossing: New Leaf for Nintendo 3DS.
New Horizons sold more copies on its release day than every other entry in the Animal Crossing franchise combined. A UK-based source named New Horizons the "biggest single-game launch on Nintendo Switch since the console came out," although it was noted that the combined launch of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield was technically larger.
These figures only include the sales of physical copies of this game. Nintendo has not released any statistics related to digital-only downloads. Given COVID-19 related store closings, it can only be assumed that digital sales totals were also quite high.
New Horizons also debuted at the top of the charts in multiple countries. In the UK, it comfortably beat Bethesda's Doom Eternal, which had released one day prior. Unlike the pastel-colored tropical island life game, the first-person shooter experienced a smaller launch than its predecessor, Doom 2016. Again, this data does not include digital downloads.
The UK was not the only part of the world where fans were excited to travel to their very own tropical island. Japanese game retailer GEO reported that Animal Crossing: New Horizons had comfortably unseated Nioh 2, the previous week's best-seller. In addition, it has already become the highest-selling Switch title of all time at GEO shops.
Animal Crossing has become a household name over the past several years, with New Leaf's protagonist Villager and lovable assistant Isabelle being chosen as fighters in 2018's Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Now, with New Horizons heralded as 'exactly what was needed' during these trying, isolating times, the question becomes—where will the Animal Crossing franchise go next? One thing's for sure: whatever savvy raccoon businessman Tom Nook has to sell, fans around the world will be there to buy it!