Maybe Splatoon 3’s Record Breaking Sales Figures Will Finally Get People To Respect It
Splatoon 3 has just enjoyed the best launch in Japan of not just any Nintendo game, but all games ever released in the territory, and I think we should all stop and take a breath. Nintendo has arguably the greatest legacy of any publisher, so to be sitting at the top of the pile spilling ink down on all of your foes is no mean feat. Of course, there are a few caveats. Thanks to ever-more-pervasive marketing and the ease, speed, and popularity of digital sales, it's easier to have a big launch in 2022 than it was in 2002. In the top 20, six are Switch games, three are 3DS games, and one is PS4, meaning half of the whole list took place in the past ten years, despite Nintendo being a dominant force in gaming since the mid '80s. It's also not always a statement of quality – Cyberpunk 2077 had a mammoth launch all around the world, while the best Pokemon launch belongs to Black & White. Still, these caveats should not detract from the fact that Splatoon 3, of all things, is now Nintendo's best ever launch.
Some of you will be nodding along in agreement when I say "of all things" when talking about Splatoon, while others will be annoyed, perhaps even offended at the implication that Splatoon is a less worthy of being at the top than the likes of Animal Crossing, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Monster Hunter, which through various entries in the series make up the rest of the top 20 combined. No Mario, no Zelda, no Metroid. When we think of the major Nintendo games, with the exception of Pokemon, their big guns have been ousted here. Half of the series aren't Nintendo games admittedly, but still, it should probably serve as ground for a rethink on how we treat Splatoon. The series has only been around for seven years, and has always been thought of by outsiders as a bit of a misfit. Too much of a shooter for Nintendo, too Nintendo for the shooter scene. These sales are proof though that it is amongst the big guns and deserves our respect.
Like any game, it's not above reproach. It still has flaws. It still feels defined by a Nintendo philosophy that doesn't always follow trends or common sense. It still, much like Overwatch 2, feels more suited to the live-service, constant update school of design than the new instalment every few years model, but then it just had the best Japanese launch ever so what do I know? However you feel on that particular talking point, or on Splatoon 3 as a whole, it's clear that Splatoon is now one of Nintendo's biggest guns and deserves a lot more respect.
While Mario and Zelda might not have been in the top 20, they have a huge legacy across gaming and if you asked fans to name the best game ever, several Mario and Zelda titles would be vying for the top spot. While several Pokemon games were in the top 20 for their launches, neither Red & Blue nor Gold & Silver (the two highest selling overall, as well as the most critically acclaimed) made the cut. Games are judged on more than just their first three days at sea. Splatoon is a newcomer at the table, not a usurper of all things Nintendo just because of a highly successful launch, but it's worthy of far more respect than it seems to be getting. The first Spaltoon brought in a respectable five million, while Splatoon 2 sold over 13 million. If the launch is any indication, Splatoon 3 will surpass both.
Is it just because it's a Nintendo shooter that's caught between worlds? The cute aesthetic with competitive shooting hasn't stopped Fortnite or Overwatch, although Splatoon is stuck in the middle even more than those two. Is it because it's too modern, and Nintendo's other major hits are classics that have been around for decades? Is it just that Splatoon, more so than Mario, is a game you either get or you don't, and enough people simply don't? Whatever it is, Splatoon 3 is a flag in the ground that the series is worthy of a lot more respect. Nintendo has a new big gun, and it's spraying ink.
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