After all of the controversy with the lack of content and corners cut, I expected SOME kind of negative reaction. Slightly lower sales, shorter legs, something. Instead not only it becomes a massively successful launch, it becomes the immediately crosses the 15 million mark that most Pokemon games need all of its lifetime to reach and it's going to end up becoming the second best seller in the franchise. This is sad because either the hardcore fans who said to boycott this bought it anyway, thus giving up on future games becoming better, or the casual base is so big it can more than compensate for the loss of the core base, thus making any kind of customer reaction powerless. Either way, GameFreak and The Pokemon Co. is just going to continue to degrade the series to sell more games faster and faster.
Like I said, I very much doubt many hardcore fans boycotted it. I bet 99% of them bought it but then just complained endlessly online (and the other 1% will eventually buy it). If you are a hardcore Pokemon fan are you really not going to buy the first core Pokemon game for a console? Unlikely.
Also there are plenty of people who don't buy Nintendo portables but have a Switch, so don't normally buy Pokemon games because they don't own those systems, who got this game (me for instance - this is my first pokemon game since I got Red in 1999). So yeah the expanded sales opportunities the Switch fan base affords can easily make up for any tiny percentage of hardcore fans who did actually boycott the game.
Also like I said I think we see the negative reaction in that it didn't sell even more than it has! We see Animal Crossing, a much smaller franchise, beating Pokemon's initial launch. And while in the 6 week post-launch numbers Pokemon did over 2.6 million more, again that was the holidays for Pokemon and Pokemon is known as a more launch heavy seller, and it did indeed drop off drastically after the holidays while Animal Crossing seems likely to sell far more than Pokemon during their respective second quarter of sales. That should make us realize just how much bigger Pokemon Sword/Shield could have been if it had gotten the good word of mouth that games like Botw, Odyssey, Smash, AC have all had. If Pokemon had been a critically acclaimed game it would probably be a couple million higher right now. While I think Pokemon not being critically acclaimed the way many Switch games have been is hurting it more than any hardcore-fan-only controversy, I'm sure the negative news of the controversy did play a bit into the wider so-so acclaim for the general market reaction to the game.
Hi there. I'm firmly in the hardcore Pokemon fan camp, and could easily challenge for that title on this site. You make good points, but I'm going to address one of them from a different perspective.
If you are a hardcore Pokemon fan are you really not going to buy the first core Pokemon game for a console? Unlikely.
Not as crazy as it may seem. I have refused to by the Gen 8 games mostly because of Dexit, and not only because of the aforementioned reasons of Sw/Sh feeling extremely stale and lacking in content and effort, but also because time and time again, Pokemon had been like the Street Fighter of RPGs. You could by the vanilla edition early, but you should know damn well by now that a newer, better version would be announced in a year's time, either the equivalent of a GOTY edition or a sequel that is still closely the same game and content. Sw/Sh are the first versions to embrace actual DLC to add to the existing vanilla game instead of releasing a new SKU of the game with new content the equivalent of DLC.
The other thing that makes Pokemon similar to Street Fighter is that the competitive community has to essentially follow whatever the official game(s) are at the time, because that's what the sponsored tournaments adapt to. There are plenty of players still on Gen 7, but VGC has moved on to Gen 8, so if you want to follow or partake in official rankings, ladders and tournaments, then that's the game you have to play. There were a lot of hardcore Street Fighter players that didn't like SFV (especially at launch), but adapted anyway because that's where EVO and other major sponsored tournaments shifted after SFV launched, because that's where Capcom wants the player base to be. So EVO and the like are going to follow suit, because it wants that sponsorship and support.
I realize that my second point kind of makes yours (hardcore fans buying the first core games despite disliking them), but it explains why they do beyond the idea that fans just moan and complain while mindlessly eating up new games.