Nintendo’s game has managed to outperform Fifa football simulation. Philippe Lavoué, director of Nintendo France, takes stock of this particular year.
The ranking of the best-selling video games in France has been dominated by the military saga for ten years. Call of Duty (Activision) or football simulation Fifa (EA). This purring routine was broken in 2020. “Animal Crossing New Horizons is number one in sales», Reveals Philippe Lavoué, general manager of Nintendo France. The latter is based on the classification established by the Gfk institute, which counts the copies in physical format sold in France by distribution and e-commerce sites. The video game industry does not communicate on its digital sales.
How many French people bought Animal Crossing ? We will have to wait until February and the publication by Sell (union of video game publishers) of its annual market report to find out. But we can bet that the game has crossed the million sales mark: this is the usual performance of the football game Fifa, of which the penultimate opus had sold 1.2 million copies in 2019.
Animal Crossing New Horizons was released on March 20, when France had just entered containment because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “This is a fortuitous coincidence and I will not call it a happy one», Emphasizes Philippe Lavoué. “But we are happy to have helped those confined to feel less alone and to escape mentally.This game, which allows you to live an idyllic day-to-day life in a village populated by animals, has become a worldwide phenomenon with 26 million sales between March and September. Many players have called it a bubble of air and optimism in an extremely anxiety-provoking climate.
The attraction for Animal Crossing did not die out with the deconfinement of spring. If the first buyers were young adults, “families with children took over from the summer», Explains Philippe Lavoué. The game has continuously remained in the top 3 sales and still is at the start of 2021. The license Animal Crossing, until then more discreet, “clearly changed dimension with this episode. This is also the case with the Nintendo Switch.»
Strong increase in Switch sales
The phenomenon has indeed singularly boosted sales of the Nintendo console. “Annual growth is in double digits, as the console is in its fourth year on the market. It’s unheard of for Nintendo», Emphasizes Philippe Lavoué. Nintendo France indicates that 7% of French people own a Switch, which, according to our calculations, gives 4.7 million copies. In 2019, the console’s installed base was 3.3 million copies. Growth is therefore over 40%, and 2020 sales are split equally between young adults and households with children. “The Switch is in the middle of its life cycle. It still has great potential for progress ”, estimates the general manager.
Other Nintendo-signed games make it to the top bestsellers of 2020, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Mario 3D All Stars, a reissue of three Mario adventures released in 1996, 2002 and 2007. The exercise game Ring Fit also performed very well. “The closure of sports halls has been favorable to him», Recognizes Philippe Lavoué. “Ring Fit, Ubisoft’s Just Dance and Animal Crossing form a combo that convinces a new audience to buy a Switch.” But maybe the real surprise is 51 Worldwide Games. This compilation to play traditional games like dominoes, blackjack, chess, checkers, solitaire or backgammon on Switch did better than Ring Fit, but also Hyrule Warriors: Age of the Scourge or Paper Mario : The Origami King.
If Nintendo France’s assessment in 2020 is positive to say the least, “It was not a foregone conclusion. We faced two lockdowns and the closure of specialist departments and stores in November ”, recalls Philippe Lavoué. “I would like to salute the responsiveness, adaptation and innovation of French distribution, which has been exemplary. We were able to keep our players happy thanks to click and collect and online shopping. ”