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Pokémon Sword and Shield blow past franchise launch record

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.

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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…
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