The line had already grown long last Friday afternoon when I dropped by a local game store on unrelated business: younger kids, a surprising number of teens, a few younger adults, some older adults, all queuing to lay hands on Pokémon X or Y — or both — for Nintendo’s 3DS when the clock struck midnight. You expect lines like that for a Call of Duty or a new console launch, and I guess if I’d gone to a Pokémon launch before, I’d realize how nuts people are for these games. Mall stores weren’t designed to handle the traffic, and the guy behind the counter had to keep asking the gaggle to move.
Now we know what came of the ballyhoo: Nintendo says it sold over four million copies of Pokémon X & Y over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday. That’s the global tally, mind you, since this was a global launch — a first for a Pokémon. By comparison, Grand Theft Auto V sold 12 million copies in one day last month, but fixed comparisons are always dodgy: Rockstar’s crime-spree arrived at the height of the Xbox 360 and PS3’s powers, with 160 million systems to tap install-base-wise; the 3DS has slightly less than 35 million systems in circulation — a respectable figure, but fractional by comparison. (We probably need something like an “adjusted for install base” metric.)
Nintendo’s being cautious here, since as it admits there’s no “exact historical precedent for comparison,” but four million is a record by a country mile. According to Nintendo:
…when combining and comparing regional data for previous launches, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y would be the fastest-selling Nintendo 3DS games of all time and are tracking ahead of the last Pokémon RPG titles, Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2, by more than 70 percent.
The fastest selling Pokémon games were Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, released in late 2006 and early 2007 in Japan and the U.S. respectively, with 1.75 million units sold during launch week.
Nintendo says it’s sold more than 245 million copies of Pokémon franchise games worldwide through March 2013. Here’s a look at the last five in the roleplaying series sorted by platform (Nintendo DS or Game Boy Advance) and combined total sold.
(NDS) Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl – 17.63m
(GBA) Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire – 16.22m
(NDS) Pokémon Black and Pokémon White – 15.42m
(NDS) Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver – 12.67m
(GBA) Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen – 12m