Four Months After Launch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is Bigger Than Ever

It's been a wild week (and several months) for the biggest game of the year.

Less than five months after its release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons continues to break records and cultural milestones, proving that it’s bigger than ever.

Earlier this week, Nintendo released its latest financial data. The data reveals Animal Crossing: New Horizons has sold over 22.4 million units, surpassing the sales of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and becoming the second biggest Nintendo Switch game. The first is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but it’s not hard to imagine Animal Crossing: New Horizons surpassing its sales given how rapidly it has sold so many units. The data is reflective of sales up until June 30, 2020, meaning the entire month of July wasn’t even included in the report.

The fact that it has sold so much in a mere four months is astonishing, though not entirely surprising. In good part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had already long surpassed the 12.55 million copies sold in the lifetime of its predecessor, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. While its predecessor took six years to meet this number in sales, Animal Crossing: New Horizons reached and flew by those numbers in six weeks. These sales have contributed to Nintendo’s surge in net profits, which have been reported by the company as a whopping 541%. After only slightly more than four months on the market (the game was released on March 20), over 36% of Nintendo Switch owners possess a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The power of the game isn’t reflected in just numbers, either. Earlier this week, Animal Crossing: New Horizons made some cultural history.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 5, popstar icon Selena Gomez made a surprise appearance on Animal Talking, the late-night talk show that takes place in Animal Crossing: New Horizons conducted by screenwriter and author Gary Whitta. On the show, she performed a special rendition of her latest hit, “Past Life” featuring Trevor Daniel. She also discussed her dream collaboration with best friend Taylor Swift, who has recently released her latest album, Folklore. Afterward, she talked about her next projects, including RARE Beauty Cosmetics, Gomez’s upcoming makeup line. She’s been working on it for two years, born out of a belief that makeup “is meant to be something you enjoy and that makes you feel comfortable.”

It’s the concept of comfort that, as Patricia Hernandez over at Polygon says, encapsulates the willingness of Gomez, Brie Larson, T-Pain, Elijah Wood, and many other celebrities to come onto the talk show. Next week, the show is featuring Phil Spencer, Lisa Loeb, and Dylan Sprouse.

“Celebrities don’t look at appearing on our show as a promotional chore but something genuinely fun and silly to do, particularly these days,” Whitta said in an email to Polygon. Gomez was by no means the only notable guest in that single night; along with her as guests were The Last of Us Part II voice actors Ashley Johnson, Shannon Woodward, and Laura Bailey, as well as God of War director Cory Barlog.

The numbers prove the success of this passion project, as well — as I watched the stream while working, I saw an average of 27,000 concurrent viewers. That number didn’t really go down when Gomez stepped off the stage and Barlog came on as the night’s second guest. The chat was filled with comments by Selena Gomez stans, K-pop stans asking about a rumored possible collaboration between Gomez and K-pop group Blackpink, The Last of Us Part II fans, and Animal Crossing fans alike, among many others. Whitta has told Polygon that, with the help of Gomez promoting the live stream at the start, the live show reached a peak of 28,670 concurrent and nearly a million live views.

With continuous updates and an extremely passionate community, the love for Animal Crossing: New Horizons shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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Natalie Flores

Natalie is Fanbyte's Featured Contributor, with bylines at places like VICE, Polygon, PC Gamer, Paste Magazine, and more.

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