It's unfair to compare Smash's sales during the first month since Smash Bros Ultimate and Brawl released towards the beginning of the month, 7th and 9th respectively in the U.S. Compare that to AC where it released on the 20th, so Ultimate nearly had a 2 week advantage which is huge and still was struggling to surpass AC's first month in sales. Also if we compare the sales of AC during its first few months to smash, AC easily runs away with it WW and in the U.S. Smash Still hasn't reached 22M after nearly 2 years(19 Months), AC did that in 3 months. So to expect something like 5 times more surplus units is not out of the realm of possibilities. As for GTA5, the reason why there wasn't a huge surplus for the PS3 and 360 is because it released 2013, by that time everyone and their mother owned a 7th gen system at that point and Halo 3 was never nearly as big as AC.
Sure, Smash was available for 30 days of the Dec. 2018 sales period vs. 16 days for AC in March. It's also irrelevant. If it launched earlier, it may have moved a bit more units in March, and whatever residual effect it had in April would likely be reduced as an offset, but that's about it. Sure, AC was almost certainly the more popular game, but as I've demonstrated a popular game being more popular than another popular game doesn't mean anything. These things don't scale linearly. In fact, they don't scale at all. For example, the biggest system-seller for the PS4 in the U.S. isn't even in the system's all-time Top 10 games. Point being, there isn't a single shred of evidence that a game can, entirely by itself, cause sales growth of the scale we've seen with the Switch this year (an order of magnitude beyond the norm). It just doesn't happen.
ACNH March 2020 NPD Physical should be 1.8-1.9M.
Nintendo confirmed US/EUR/JP digital share to be ~50% in both the FY19 Q4 Q&A (end of Pg. 1) and again in FY20 Q1 Results (end of Pg. 11). Since we know JP's physical AC sales and ship+digital at both of these times, it is easy to extrapolate that the upper-bound for JP's digital share is 30%. This puts the target number for US/EUR digital share at >60% (not knowing ROTW). Obviously Europe could be much higher than US or vice-versa, but easy assumption is to just plug 60% in.
Exp total MAR sales for ACNH in US would be 1800-1900K / 0.40 = 4,500 - 4,750K.
Exp total AUG sales for ACNH in US would be 179K / 0.40 = 448K.
Obviously this isn't exact, digital share fluctuates market-to-market, month-to-month.
Super rough guesstimate of ACNH monthly NPD sales
MAR 4,600K (2 weeks)
APR 1,800K (4 weeks)
MAY 1,400K (4 weeks)
JUN 1,100K (5 weeks)
JUL 650K (4 weeks)
AUG 450K (4 weeks)
Tried to do roughly 35% drops (weekly) after April and targeted Apr-Jun summing to ~90% of March launch.
So my estimate for March was about the same as yours, even if by accident (physical was lower, digital was higher). But both that and your AC estimates past April may be a bit high. That's a total of 8.9M as of the end of Q2 and 10M as of the end of August.
Looking at the actual global sell-through, AC was at "over" 20M copies as of the end of June, so probably between 20-21M, probably the lower half of that range (22M was the shipped/sell-in figure). Looking at Nintendo's internal data, they provided a chart that, through pixel counting, reveals a nearly even split between March and Q2 (the bars were only one pixel apart, which would amount to fewer than 200k units). That means about 10M in March and less than 2% more than that in Q2. While Nintendo's financial quarters end precisely at the ends of March, June, September, & December, trackers like NPD and Famitsu end their sales periods on specific days of the week (Saturday for NPD, Sunday for Famitsu), so we can't get exact percentages, but it's the best we got.
We do know what AC has sold at retail in Japan thanks to Famitsu. Assuming that 30% digital ratio you claim for AC in Japan (it seems plausible as Japan's digital shares are typically pretty low, but I would like a citation on that), that puts the game at between 3.7-4.3M as of March 31 and about 7.2M copies there as of June 30 (meaning between 2.9-3.5M for Q2), or upwards of 37-43% of the global total for March alone and around 36% of the global total for the March-June period. So, for March that leaves about 5.7-6.3M copies for to account for outside of Japan, and about 13M outside-Japan copies as of the end of June.
If AC sold 4.6M in just the U.S. in March, that would represent about 46% of the global total, and if it sold 8.9M copies LTD in the U.S. by the end of June would be upwards of 44.5% of the global total (the actual percentage would be slightly less as NPD's March and June sales periods ended four days after the ends of those calendar months, giving AC four extra days of sales more than Nintendo's fiscal end-March & end-June quarters). Assuming AC's attach rate is the same in Canada as in the U.S., that brings the U.S.+Canada total to about 5M copies in March and 9.7M copies as of the end of June, which would be upwards of 50% and 48.6%, respectively, of the global total.
Combine Japan, the U.S., and Canada, and that leaves very little for Europe. Specifically, if our estimates for the U.S. are correct then that means only between 700k to 1.3M copies were sold for Europe, Latin America, and Asia & the Pacific (sans Japan) combined in March, and only 3.1M combined for those markets as of the end of June (which would itself imply disproportionately large Q2 relative to March). That would be about 7-13% of the global total as of the end of March, and about 15-16% share by the end of June. Assuming Europe is two-thirds of that "outside-US/CAN/JP" market, that would mean that Europe represents a mere 10% of the global share of Animal Crossing sales as of the end of June, or about 2M copies overall for the region.
That seems extraordinarily low.
Assuming the respective shares of global sold-through hardware are the same as they were at the end of 2019, that means the split would be 34.5% for the U.S., 25% for Japan, and 40.5% for everywhere else; if we combine Canada with the U.S., that makes 38.7% for Northern America as a whole, 25% for Japan, and 36.3% for everywhere else (about 24% for just Europe and 12% for small markets outside the main three of NA/JP/Europe, if VGC's estimates are any indication). So right away we can see a huge disparity between the regional share of Switch sales and the regional share of AC sales implied by your U.S. estimates.
Animal Crossing was always huge in Japan, so Japan being 36% of AC sales as of the end of June despite being only 25% of Switch sales is understandable (for reference, 40% of New Leaf's global sales were sold in Japan at retail). But for the U.S.'s share of AC sales to be so high it would mean that the game is nowhere near as popular in Europe as it is in either the U.S. or Japan, especially relative to the size of their respective markets. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely. I'm not so sure. Even with the COVID bump helping out in the U.S., NA & Japan shouldn't comprise such a massive supermajority of AC sales, because there was also apparently a surge in spending on gaming in Europe this year as well because of COVID.
While VGC's numbers have a very substantial margin of error, they indicate that New Leaf was about equally balanced between the U.S. and Europe. Now we're talking about a nearly 3-to-1 sales ratio or greater between them. Assuming a more even balance for New Horizons, say, 6.5 million in the U.S. and 5 million in Europe, that would mean that about 1.9M copies were sold in the U.S. during Q2, not 4.3M. Still an absolutely outstanding figure (Halo 3 sold 1.52M in the U.S. in Q4 2007, which to the best of my knowledge is the best sales for a non-Nintendo exclusive for its second through fourth months).
This is all of course assuming those digital ratios are correct and constant over time. Unfortunately, we have too much missing data to determine things exactly. The only solid or semi-solid numbers we have is retail sales in Japan and the approximate global sell-through. If AC failed to outsell SSBU for total physical+digital in March, if the overall digital share in the U.S. was lower than 60%, and if the digital share was higher in Q2 than in March, the numbers would probably make more sense. I could easily see U.S. sales for AC of 3.5M in March and 3M in Q2, which when combined with Canada would yield total Northern American sales of about 3.8M in March and 3.3M in Q2. If we assume AC sold 4M in March and 3.2M in Q2, that would give us an NA+Japan total of 7M in March and 6.5M in Q2. This would leave Europe+RoW with 3M in March and 3.5M in Q2. That would be much more believable than AC selling only 2M copies in Europe for the entire March-June period.
Except they aren't. I can readily & easily purchase a PS4 or an XBox One in the US right now, but I cannot do the same for a Nintendo Switch console, unless I want to pay a scalper on Amazon or Walmart.
That's now. We're talking about past months, and there were clearly stock issues for all three systems during late spring/early summer, considering the big bump for all three in August (restocks) and the XBO's awful July.
I don't know why it's forbidden to include Switch when pointing out how much the pandemic has boosted console sales. It doesn't take anything away from its success. Nor does it take anything away from Animal Crossing. Shadow also emphasizes that the boost is a "one-two punch of AC and the pandemic".
There is nor has there ever been a reason to believe the Switch is somehow uniquely insulated from the effects of the pandemic.
Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 26 September 2020