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Nintendo sales figures show full impact of Pokémon boycott

Zero. The impact was zero. Pokémon Sword and Shield sold by the bucketload.

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Pokemon Sword and Shield sobble
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Zero. The impact was zero. Pokémon Sword and Shield sold by the bucketload.

Series convention has been to retain all the Pokémon from the previous games, and also expand upon it with new creatures for the new region. But there are over 800 monsters now. It always seemed like that was an unsustainable model.

And so, before Pokémon Sword and Shield was released, Game Freak revealed that – for the first time – the game wouldn’t contain the full Pokédex. It’s fair to say that the internet’s cavalcade of angry weirdos was upset about it.

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(And we’re not going to link any of the tweets, forum posts, and YouTube tirades here. We’re not giving that nonsense any oxygen.)

They (unfairly) accused Game Freak of being lazy. They (inaccurately) assumed it only took someone “a few hours” to model and animate each Pokémon. (Try weeks. Per Pokémon. For a team of people.) They swore off Pokémon Sword and Shield. They promised that the boycott would be devastating and the game would fail.

Fast forward six months and–

*checks notes*

Pokémon Sword and Shield have sold 16 million copies between them. To be more precise, Nintendo’s financial report says that’s 16.06 million units by December 31, 2020. With an extra month since then, that number will be even higher.

That puts Pokémon Sword and Shield in overall fifth place for Nintendo first-party software, ahead of Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu, and just a whisker behind Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Here’s the full ranking:

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Nintendo Switch first-party software sales, to December 31, 2020

  1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – 22.96m
  2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – 17.68m
  3. Super Mario Odyssey – 16.59m
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 16.34m
  5. Pokémon Sword and Shield – 16.06m
  6. Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu – 11.76m
  7. Splatoon 2 – 9.81m
  8. Super Mario Party – 9.12m
  9. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – 5.85m
  10. Luigi’s Mansion 3 – 5.37m

That’s some impressive company to be keeping for a game that was “doomed to fail” by a fan boycott, isn’t it? (And if you’re yet to buy your copy, shop for Pokémon Sword and Shield on Amazon.)

It just goes to prove what we’ve always suspected: that the angry, unpleasant voices on the internet are a vocal minority. Extremely vocal, sure, but also extremely minor.


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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.