You can. It's just difficult to do. Many series don't reach those insane heights at all, let alone on their first game. I feel that its better to have a game series be a consistent and well selling game, rather than trying to make it the next big phenomenon. You can try to do that, but it's not something you can control at the end of the day.
Yea, not every franchise started as a phenomenon right out of the gate.
Animal Crossing is an example. You also have franchises like Uncharted.
Drake's Fortune sold about 3 million copies. Really good for a new IP, but not a phenomenon until the later games.
Mass Effect 1 (recorded, as of now) sold around 2 million copies. Then the series exploded when its sequel came out and the third game sold well, despite the controversial ending(s). And then Andromeda happened...