Skip to main content

Pokémon Sword and Shield blow past franchise launch record

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pokémon Sword and Shield may have found themselves at the center of controversy surrounding missing Pokémon from previous games, but that hasn’t stopped the two titles from setting new sales records for the series. The Switch-exclusive games have managed to have the highest-grossing launch weekend in Pokémon history, and plenty of players are trying to catch ’em all.

Nintendo revealed that Pokémon Sword and Shield combined to become the highest-grossing launch in the series, with more than 6 million units sold worldwide. Among those sold, 2 million were sold in the United States, where the Nintendo Switch has continued to perform well since it first released in 2017.

The 6 million units figure makes the games among the bestselling titles on the entire Switch platform. The Let’s Go games have sold slightly over 11 million units to date, but we anticipate this figure being demolished by Sword and Shield in little time. Only Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild have a chance to sell more copies.

Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield - Overview Trailer - Nintendo Switch

With the new milestone, the core Pokémon role-playing games — which includes games like Red, Gold, Diamond, X, and Sun — have sold more than 240 million units to date. It’s an almost unfathomable figure, but one that is certainly appropriate for a franchise that has become such a cultural phenomenon. Alongside the main games and their many spin-off titles, the series features cards, anime series, anime films, and the live-action Pokémon: Detective Pikachu film.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are the first main games in the series to release for a home console, albeit a hybrid system like Nintendo Switch. The worlds are fully realized in 3D, with special “Wild” areas also giving you complete control of the camera while you explore and catch new monsters. Random battles are also gone, with the Pokémon available to catch either walking around or hiding in a grassy area to ambush you. Despite this, many classic elements like gym battles and evolutions still remain in place, and its role-playing mechanics are far deeper than last year’s Pokémon: Let’s Go game, which ditched wild battles for something more akin to the Pokémon Go catching system.

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Indigo Disk is a true master’s degree program
A trainer stands in front of two Alolan Exeggutors in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Indigo Disk.

After a rocky year, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s story is coming to an end next month. Its second DLC, The Indigo Disk, will conclude its bonus Hidden Treasure of Area Zero arc on December 14. That’ll close out the series’ most scrutinized set of games to date, which were lambasted at launch for performance issues and poor visual quality. The Indigo Disk certainly won’t reverse that narrative, but it at least has a shot at sending disappointed fans home happy -- especially after the underwhelming Teal Mask expansion.

Ahead of its launch, I got a hands-on preview with the upcoming DLC that showed me a bit of what to expect. I explored its new open-world area, saw some familiar monsters, and fought in one of the toughest battles I’ve ever had in a mainline Pokémon story. Every technical problem in the base game still reared its ugly head during my hour of playtime, but The Indigo Disk at least brings some high-level challenges to the mix that will test even the most seasoned competitive players.
Same problems, new challenges
The Indigo Disk picks up right after The Teal Mask’s conclusion (players will need to beat it to start the new DLC). In it, I’m sent to Blueberry Academy, which is a massive biodome floating in the middle of the ocean. It houses a round, open-world area split up into four distinct environments. One corner has your standard grassy plains, while another is a massive snowy mountain full of ice Pokémon. It’s significantly bigger than Teal Mask’s bite-sized open world, though the general design isn’t too different.

Read more
Detective Pikachu Returns: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more
Pikachu with detective cap smiling and drinking coffee cup

One of the more forgotten entries in the monster-catching franchise is also the most unique. Detective Pikachu was originally a 3DS game (and a feature film) that cast Pikachu as a smooth-talking (that's right, he talks!) detective who teams up with a kid named Tim Goodman to solve various mysteries. Rather than play like an RPG, this entry was more of an adventure game, focusing on story and, naturally, solving mysteries. After the success of the game and film, it was only a matter of time before a sequel game was announced. The wait turned out to be quite a bit longer than many expected, but now that Detective Pikachu Returns has been officially announced, we've put on our caps and collected all the clues about this upcoming adventure.
Release date

Detective Pikachu Returns is right around the corner. The game will launch on October 6, 2023.

Read more
Pokémon Stadium 2 and Trading Card Game are now on Switch with online play
Ash holds a Pokeball while a lot of iconic Pokemon stand behind him.

Nintendo Switch Online just added two retro classics, as Pokémon Stadium 2 and Pokémon Trading Card Game are now available on the service. Both games have been updated to feature online multiplayer.

Both announcements come from today's Pokémon Presents stream, which primarily focused on updates to mobile games and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Nintendo Switch Online got a small block during the presentation, when it was revealed that the two games were dropping on Switch shortly after the stream.

Read more