Boss Rush Banter: Why Does Pikmin Fall Short in Sales Compared to Other Major Nintendo Franchises?

Pikmin 4 is the first Pikmin game I played, and it’s blowing my socks off. It’s charming, beautiful, and filled with challenging puzzles that make me feel like a genius. Now that I’m paying more attention to Miyamoto’s “Mario killer”, I’ve read and heard that Pikmin, although well liked, generally doesn’t sell as well as Nintendo’s other franchises. With a current 87 Metacritic score for Pikmin 4, it’s clear that the people who do play love the game. So, why are Pikmin sales generally stale compared to their bretherin?

Here are some quick numbers by units sold:

  • Pikmin 1 sold approximately 1.6 million
  • Pikmin 2 sold approximately 1.12 million
  • Pikmin 3 sold 1.28 million
  • Pikmin 3 Deluxe sold approximately 2.4 million
  • As of August 20th, Pikmin 4 has sold 721,281 copies.

Any game that surpasses one million in sales is nothing to sneeze at, but let’s look at some other Nintendo franchise sales:

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold approximately 53.79 million
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold approximately 42.21 million
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold approximately 30.65 million
  • Super Mario Odessy sold approximately 25.76 million
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 sold approximately 12.82 million

So, in comparison, Pikmin falls onto a secondary tier with Kirby, Metroid, and Splatoon. Why is that?

I would like to think that the main culprit is time. Mario and Zelda have been around since the 1980s. With an established legacy, they retain fans and only increase momentum when gaining new ones. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an accessible game–even to “non gamers”–and had a little boost from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, I see potential with the increasing sales over Pikmin releases. With almost one million units in sight within months of release, I feel confident Pikmin 4 will surpass its previous iterations. I am unsure if it will see double digit sales (in terms of millions), but I hope to be proven wrong. Pikmin 4 made some great changes from previous games, which shows that the franchise is far from stale. Perhaps Pikmin will capture the hearts of millions more over the next console generation to where Nintendo adds a Pikmin-themed park in Super Nintendo World (I can’t be the only one who’d think that would be awesome…right?)

What are your thoughts? Will Pikmin ever generate the amount of sales compared to a Mario or a Zelda game? Please share your thoughts with us on our Boss Rush Facebook Group or our Boss Rush Discord.

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Sources: Game Luster, Metacritic, Pikmin Wiki, Game Informer, Statista, Wikipedia (Luigi’s Mansion 3) , Wikipedia (Kirby and the Forgotten Land)

Featured Image Source: Nintendo World Report

4 thoughts on “Boss Rush Banter: Why Does Pikmin Fall Short in Sales Compared to Other Major Nintendo Franchises?

  1. From someone who has loved the series from the from the very start, I can tell you why: Nintendo didn’t really know how to market Pikmin. It’s a unique blend of genres, and there is a lot to translate only with the first game’s “It’s a real time strategy puzzle game”; later games then added dungeon crawling to the mix of what you need to get across. The early ads are either bizarre (dozens of men in Pikmin costumes steal a hotdog, etc.), or take the form of a sedate nature documentary (which I love, but it sells the game poorly). The short films for 3 and 4 have helped significantly, as did the Pikmin fans from Reddit who have been buying ad space in major cities to post memes. It looks like the idea is finally being communicated; Pikmin 4 has outsold 3 in Europe, and indications are sales in the US have been amazing.

  2. I tried an earlier Pikmin game and it just wasn’t for me. My personal anecdote aside, I think Pikmin 4 released at a challenging time when so many other great games are coming out, too. Since getting Tears of the Kingdom, I basically haven’t been able to think about any other game. And yet, there’s a hefty backlog in my library and several other titles that have caught my eye in the meantime. Pikmin just doesn’t really fit into the mix for me. At least, not right now.

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