Animal Crossing doesn't work as a good example for your argument. The IP started on the Japan-exclusive N64 add-on 64DD (low sales by default) and was then ported to the GC where is sold approximately 3m copies on an unpopular console, so the ~2.5m of ARMS on Switch aren't particularly good. The second Animal Crossing game (Wild World for DS) sold 12m copies. That's absolutely not gradual growth, that's a megahit the first time a game was released on a popular console.
For a new IP released on a recently released console with a small user-base at the time, I'd say it is good. Wild World was also released during the DS' peak in sales and popularity, so most of its success came from the DS' best years. A console's user-base and age are an important variable in a game's sales.
Splatoon succeeding against the odds doesn't make a good case for ARMS either.
Splatoon also was released towards the end of the Wii U's life as well, so the fact that it did that well on a failed console on its way out was a rare feat of accomplishment. While ARMS was released quite early in the Switch's life, so it benefited from a smaller lineup and less competitive environment since there weren't a lot of fighters on the Switch yet.
But yes, not all games are made equally. That's why Skyward Sword was a failure with its 3.5m copies sold; it was Nintendo's most expensive game at the time. Of course that didn't end the series because Zelda is such a longrunning IP; Nintendo took the appropriate course of action and strongly reconsidered their approach. Rhythm Heaven is a very cheap to make IP because the most expensive part of game development (graphics) is purposefully kept low; the focus is on the music, so the series brought in good profits without having to be a megaseller.
I wouldn't say Skyward Sword was a failure necessarily, Majora's Mask sold roughly the same (granted, Majora's Mask was more of an experiment than the next big Zelda game). But its sales were disappointing by the standards of the Zelda series. But again, we have to remember the timeframe. It came out at the end of the Wii's life, required a peripheral not everybody had or wanted, and was going up against Skyrim, which released around the same time. On top of that, Skyward Sword was following a formula that at that point, was starting to wear thin for a lot of people, on top of heavy tutorializaion and slow pace. All of these factors contributed to its under-performance. You're right that Nintendo took the feedback from the game into strong consideration when making Breath of the Wild, which was designed to re-invent Zelda for a modern audience.
And that's why I think ARMS will continue. It did well, but it's not quite at the level where it can be a long-running series just yet. I do think the team will take the complaints of the first game into account when making the sequel, that way it can potentially do even better than the original.
Rhythm Heaven is cheap to make, true. But the development costs for ARMS, or even Splatoon weren't that high either (though they were higher than Rhythm Heaven obviously). Plus, didn't Nintendo say that BotW only needed to sell 2 million to break even? Even their most expensive game, only needed a few million copies to turn a profit.
|I get it that you really like ARMS, but don't count on a sequel. Its sales and future prospects don't look better with the examples you bring up.
I do think ARMS has the potential to be another reliable series for Nintendo in the future. That's why I think a sequel is likely, to build on the IP and eventually get it to the levels of Splatoon or Mario, or Animal Crossing. With Splatoon, it was clear from the first game's sales that it was going to be Nintendo's next big franchise. With ARMS, the potential is there, but it needs more time and games under its belt to get to that point.
Last edited by TheMisterManGuy - on 02 November 2019