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A Sales Story | E05 | Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 2 - Its sales and why they are relevant

2007 - The Acquisition
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It's 2007 and the Nintendo Wii is rocking the videogame world with its novelty/gimmick, but also thanks to its huge sales numbers. Among all the news, there is something that somehow goes undernoticed, at least in terms of mass market appeal. Nintendo acquired Monolith Soft. - a Bandai-Nacmo owned JRPG team. The relationship between Kyoto-based company and Takahashi team was already pretty close and positive, thanks to a couple of exclusive products developed by Monolith Soft. for the previous Nintendo home console (specifically, Baten Kaitos and Baten Kaitos Origins), as testified also by the fact that the team was already developing a Nintendo owned IP (as second party), with Disaster - Day of Crisis, a weird action game published in 2008 as Wii esclusive. But Nintendo gola wasn't to transform Monolith Soft. into a westernized action oriented team: on the contrary, the idea was to focus them exaclty on what they were well know for: classic but very ambitious JRPG.


2010 - The Beginning
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Monolith Soft. was responsible for the classic and belowed Xeno-saga, a very deep role-playing-game saga, and Nintendo back in the days wanted to exploit their expertise to fill a possible void in their lineup, with them focusing their know-how on this kind of production. The actual proof for this goal is that in 2010 they published the first episode of a new saga, still keeping the "Xeno" word in the title: Xeboblade Chronicles (previously known as Monado: Beginning of the World), named after Takahashi's team love for the Xeno-saga products developed under Namco ownership (also to commercially exploit the already beloved IP). This game put Monolith Soft. on the map, among Nintendo fans and worldwide critic, with an ambitious open world (even more impressive considering the limit of the Wii hardware, compared to the existing competitor consoles), a deep storytelling and an amazing OST, that lead a critically acclaimed Metacritic score of 92/100. But, at the same time, something went wrong about it, commercially: despite the huge install base, due to a problematic distribution west-side and due to a declining phase of Wii's performances (that affected negatively also bigger games marketing-wise like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) the game was unable to sell at least 1 million copies and in fact its actual LT sales numbers are still a mistery (not being reported by Nintendo in none of their financial report, exactly because it was unable to break that milestone). Ambitious game, critically acclaimed, but commercially problematic. Was the partnership already in danger? Was the saga already buried among better-selling Nintendo owned IPs?


2015 - Monolith flexes its muscles
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Was Monolith soft. parntership with Nintendo jeopardized? Takahashi: "Hold my beer" - exactly when the misunderstanding around the release of the first game and its tepid mass market response could have generated issues, Nintendo decided to invest in Monolith Soft. programming abilities and funded two projects, both released in 2015, to testify the potential of their hardwares: Xenoblade Chronicles X was a graphical and technical showcase for the Wii U HD capabilities, with an even bigger and completely free-to-explore (even flying!) open world, that for some is still unmatched nowadays, while Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (a remake of the first Wii episode) was chosen to push the portable device revision: only the improved processor and bigger RAM of the New 3DS was able to properly sustain Takahashi's vision for his own game (with the help by Monster Games, being the main tam at Monolith hard at work for Xenoblade X). Unfortunately, despite being technically impressive, due especially to the struggles of the Wii U and the limited install base of the 3DS hardware revision, none of these projects were able to cross that (in)famous million mark.


2017 - Time to shine!
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January 2017, the official Nintendo Switch presentation event. For the first time ever for the franchise, a good portion of the unveil of a brand new Nintendo hardware features a good spot light for Monolith Soft. efforts. Among the games presented, there is also Xenoblade Chronicles 2, new episode of the franchise, planned for the end of the year. The game actually launched in December of the same year, as planned and its pace in terms of sales is on another level. Within the end of the year (so in just three weeks) it crosses the million mark (1.06 million distributed worldwide), beating what its predecessors weren't able to reach in a "life-time" time lapse. Even better: the game continues to sell in a steady way (something not so common among JRPG) and its official numbers at the end of 2020 are around 2,17 millions copies distributed worldwide. Now, since then 1 year and a half has passed and from InstallBase own experts, this number will surely increased when, in 1/2 months from today, we will get access to CESA White Paper 2022, with updated numbers at the end of 2021. What we can anticipate now is that, in any case, the game didn't stop selling; on the contrary! In 2021 at retail in the Japanese market (official numbers tracked MediaCreate agency) it sold another 30k copies; it ranked 27th in the eshop digital chart for the first half on that year, in that market; it has been capable almost every week of this year 2022 to stay within the top 50 of the most downloaded game on the Japanese eshop; it was able to chart in the Famitsu retail week 23 chart, with another 1k copies sold physically. With it being within the voucher program (a deal particularly good for the Japanese market) and with its protagonist Pyra/Mythra added to the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, its popularity even increased somehow and (even without giving a proper estimate) it's pretty safe to imagine that its LtD global copies shipped worldwide are even significantly higher than the official 2020 figures.


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 success: why?!
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Many are the reasons behind this explosion in success, compared to previous entries. Opinions can vary, so we are not going ahead to make a chart, but simply listing different topics that as a matter of fact helped the game is gaining market share/mind share among the mass market, improving Xenoblade brand awareness.
1) The Switch-effect: it is clear how popular the Switch is, and how massive its software sales are, even compared to the most succesfull Nintendo console of the past. So, for Xenoblade 2 being available on the Switch was a competitive advantage compared to Xenoblade 1 (released on the Wii, a very sucessfull console but during its declining phase), Xenoblade X (available as a Wii U exclusive, the least appealing Nintendo console ever, for the mass market) and Xenoblade 3D (available only on the hardware upgrade of the 3DS).
2) Fully promoted: unlike Xenoblade 1 (the only game of this group that could have had the potential of selling well) that was badly promoted (it was not present during that year E3 presentation, but unveiled right after, with just a simple "PR", separated by the main event; it was not distributed by NoA as a total market product for the NA market), Xenoblade 2 was in the center of the spotlight of the most important Nintendo Switch presentation ever (the very first one in January 2017, where they actually presented the console, the price, the launch-window lineup and so on), getting TONS of attention from everyone; it was also distributed as one of the main exclusives for the Holiday period (December 2017), as one of the main selling point of the console, during its first Holiday spending time.
3) Anime-style at its best/worst: this topic has been discussed to death, with many people complaining againts it and its oversexualized approach; this is not the right place where to discuss it, but for the blade design many anime/manga Japanese artists have been involved (the most famous one being Nomura, probably) and the result has been a rich cast of side-characters, alongside the main protagonists of course; this has generated tons of fan made activities spread all over the social media channels (Twitter and so on) that contributed to some sort of viral marketing campaign, that helped in increasing mind share about the product itself. The "anime-manga" style, in the meantime, found a very solid resonance on a global scale, with projects like Persona 5 (2016; Atlus-Sega; more than 5 milllions sold with the "P5R" revised version), Nier Automata (2017; Square-Enix; 6.5 millions), Fire Emblem Three Houses (2019; Nintendo; 3.4 millions at the end of 2020), all the best selling episodes in their franchise history.
4) Gatcha-like system: another mixed topic, considering how for many this unlocking-system was tedious at best, damaging at worst, but it is possible/likely that for the Japanese market at least this somehow helped in generating buzz around the product, especially among content creators
5) Content and promotional continued support by Monolith Soft. and Nintendo: Xenoblade life cycle has been sustained in a very strong way by the developers, thanks to a very meaty post launch support; new heroes, new quests, even an entire new story arch (so meaningful that has been also distributed separately, on cart, as a standalone game). This surely helped the game legs in the mid-long term, alongside Nintendo's decision to continue supporting the Voucher program in both EU and Japan markets; in Japan especially, this digital promotion program is very valuable for pricy games like Xenoblade 2 is in that country (for example, it will be soon possible to buy Xenoblade 2 and Xenoblade 3 together for ¥9.980 instead of ¥17.556, in Japan).
6) Smash Bros effect: among Nintendo continue support to the game and the franchise there is also the decision to include both Pyra/Mythra (protagonists of Xenoblade 2) as playable characters in one of their most successfull games ever (28,17 million at March 2022), dedicating also two still-to-be-released amiibo to them. A very good way of increasing the visibility of the cast and consequently of the franchise (it is well-known for example how Sakurai love for the Fire Emblem franchise and its consequent inclusion "en masse" in his fighting games helped the SRPG brand in increasing its awareness among the mass market)

Of course, it being a very good, solid, long, and rich game helped too! (83% on Metacritic)


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 success: consequences
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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has been a success, this is obvious. But what does it imply for Monolith Soft and the Xenoblade franchise? Well, surely good things. We have already seen at least a couple of actual facts, that can testify the positive effect of Xeno2 sales.
1) Increased brand awareness for the Xenoblade brand: this is easy to check. In 2020 Nintendo published Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition; this was the third version of the original first episode of the series, after the Wii version and the N3DS one (not counting the downloadable Wii version on the Wii U eShop). Despite it being a "remaster" (not a full remake, at least) of an old game, already sold in many occasions, it was able to achieve a significant market response: at March 31st, 2021 its updated number of distributed copies worldwide was 1.52 millions, way better than any previous iteration of this episode. Its legs slowed down, unlike Xenoblade 2, but the result was already more than satisfying, cementing Xenoblade as a "million seller" franchise among Nintendo IPs portfolio
2) Increased investments into Monolith Soft team by Nintendo: this is undoubtedly a matter of fact; since 2017 (the year when Xenoblade 2 was released) the number of Monolith Soft staff continue to increase; the official number of employees was 150 and, at the end of 2021 it was up to 273. For a company like Nintendo, usually averse to acquisition and unctontrolled increase in internal work force, surely Monolith Soft has been a nice exception. More employees mean the ability to improve their output, or keeping it constant despite the general increase in developing/programming leadtimes, and testifies Nintendo HQ confidence in Takahashi's team efforts

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - The future (connected?)
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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is almost here: it is clear how its sales potential changed compared to the beginning of this gen, thanks to all the reasons listed and the clear commercial success of Xenoblade 2. The goal? 3 millions mark, minimum.
Unlike 2010, after the struggles of Xenoblade 1 on the market and 2015, when the fate of such "smaller" sellers could have seen them disappear due to Nintendo general struggles during the Wii U - late 3DS era, nowadays it seems clear that Xenoblade is among those series among Nintendo IP portfolio that can be seen as pillars of their software offer (or at least a Monolith Soft. JRPG ambitious project, if they will decide to drop the franchise and try the path of new IP: but if Xenoblade 3 will push the brand into the 3 millions mark territory, it will be hard for them to not develop ALSO a new Xenoblade game, for the next Nintendo console!)

XENOBLADE SERIES: its sales so far
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: 2.17 mil (31/12/2020)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition: 1.52 mil (31/03/2021)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: < 1 mil
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D: < 1 mil
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: < 1 mil

XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 2: its legs
  • December2017 - 1.06m
  • March 2018 - 1.31m (+250k)
  • June 2018 - 1.42m (+110k)
  • September 2018 - 1.53m (+110k)
  • December 2018 - 1.65m (+120k)
  • March2019 - 1.73m (+80k)
  • December 2019 - 1.92m (+190k in 9 months)
  • June 2020 - 2.05m (+130k in 6 months)
  • December 2020 - 2.17m (+120k in 6 months)
 
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Xenoblade 2 slowly going to 3 million is crazy stuff. It lacked a proper budget but the passion of the dev team made that game a big success.
 
Xenoblade 2 slowly going to 3 million is crazy stuff. It lacked a proper budget but the passion of the dev team made that game a big success.

Don't see it hitting 3m as at the current pace of 200k+ per year would probably hit 2.8m+ at the end. But thats already such huge success anyway. So great result for XC2 and Monolith Soft there.
 
Yes, it is around the expected 2.5mil right now (I didn't put a concrete projected number in my "article" because I preferred to stick with official numbers, but was exactly expecting it being 2.5mil at the end of 2021 and it is at 2.44mil) but even thinkoing about it 2022 sales around the same bracket (200k) I can't see it crawling up to 3mil in terms of LT sales

It will totally be in that area, in any case (let's say 2.6/2.8), already a very good result. and probably the foundation of a stable range for the series even (let's see if X3 first quarter shipment can already be in the 2mil ballpark, for example: if so, even with X1DE kind of legs the 3mil in terms of LT sales would totally be achievable)
 
You can't see +560k but you can see +160k?

what do you mean?
What I meant was it being around 2.6 at the end of 2022 (that would mean selling this year as much as X1DE sold in 1 year, right?) and going up to 2.8 selling similar quantities for a couple of years more ('23/'24)
I think that with the release of X3, it being pretty old right now and possibly a Switch2 coming out in late '23/early '24 X2 legs will slowly decrease over time
 
what do you mean?
What I meant was it being around 2.6 at the end of 2022 (that would mean selling this year as much as X1DE sold in 1 year, right?) and going up to 2.8 selling similar quantities for a couple of years more ('23/'24)
I think that with the release of X3, it being pretty old right now and possibly a Switch2 coming out in late '23/early '24 X2 legs will slowly decrease over time
XCDE sold 200k last year. I don't think XC2 is going to only sell 160k this year. Over 200k is a given, maybe even up to 250k, with XC3 giving it a boost that slows down the decline it would otherwise have.
 
I'd say 250k is the minimum, with Japan going up again and the West possibly going down slightly
 
Not convinced, it's not continue selling the same amount forever, but of course we will see and hopefully it will
 
FE Awakening sold 110k from 2018 to 2021 even though it's been left for dead at full price on the 3DS eShop btw
 
I'd say 250k is the minimum, with Japan going up again and the West possibly going down slightly
Yeah, I agree. 2022 should be similar to 2021. Then it should decline noticeably from 2023 on, I guess (but XC3 DLC will be promoted and released next year, so it's not like there will be nothing going on for the IP). I can't see it not reaching 3M eventually.

Not convinced, it's not continue selling the same amount forever, but of course we will see and hopefully it will
Don't you think it's possible for Nintendo to make its next console compatible with the current eShop? I think if they can avoid to start all over they would. And in that case, all Switch titles will have very long tails. Of course this is only speculation for the time being, but it's worth keeping the possibility in mind. And even if this doesn't happen, 2022 is on track to become the peak year for Switch software. I don't think we should expect software sales to collapse any time soon. I feel like we can expect at least three more years of healthy catalogue sales.
 
XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 2: its legs
  • December2017 - 1.06m
  • March 2018 - 1.31m (+250k)
  • June 2018 - 1.42m (+110k)
  • September 2018 - 1.53m (+110k)
  • December 2018 - 1.65m (+120k)
  • March2019 - 1.73m (+80k)
  • December 2019 - 1.92m (+190k in 9 months)
  • June 2020 - 2.05m (+130k in 6 months)
  • December 2020 - 2.17m (+120k in 6 months)
  • December 2021 - 2.44m (+270k in 12 months)

XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3: its debut sales
  • September 2022 - 1.72M
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 debut is 62% higher than Xenoblade 2 debut; it took 15 months to XB2 to sell slightly less than XB3 (December '17/March '19); it took 24 months (December '17/December '19) to XB2 to sell more than XB3 debut; it took 2 full holiday seasons to XB2 to pass XB3 debut sales, while XB3 still has to face its first Xmas on the market

XB3 clearly has also things going against its race with XB2, like: digital post-codiv boost and voucher boost already being a thing; no inclusion of its party/fighter in Smash Bros (at least so far) and consequently no amiibo figures; less "console life-cycle" ahead.

At the same time, having the same legs (from 1.06mil to 2.44mil means a 120% growth over its Q1 sales for XB2) would put XB3 at more than 3.5mil LT sales (so more than a full million over XB2 sales so far); so it doesn't need the same legs to sell on par/better than XB2: to hit the 3mil mark it would need a 74% of its debut sales to be sold in the following quarters; to match XB2 sales so far (2.44) it would be enough to sell "just" other 700k (40% of its debut sales).

We could also compare it to XBDE and FETH: XB3 debuted higher than XBDE (1.32mil) and similar to FETH (I think it was 1.9mil): the former had no legs (it's up to 1.52mil now) the secondo one on the other hadn arrived up to 3.82mil with very strong legs

Nothing indicates neither bad legs as XBDE so far, nor good legs as FETH or XB2 so far. My idea is that it will sell enough to surpass XB2 but not topping 3mil LT sales

XENOBLADE SERIES: its sales so far
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: 2.44 mil (31/12/2020)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - 1.72M (30/09/2022)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition: 1.52 mil (31/03/2021)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: < 1 mil
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D: < 1 mil
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: < 1 mil
 
So with the CESA White Papers released, we know that Xenoblade 2 sold 260K in 2022, bringing the game to 2.7 M total. That is only 10K less than what it sold in 2021, and the game is very old at this point, especially by Japanese RPG standards. On top of that, we've had 2 other games in the series release, which while successful in their own right, still have not yet reached the same potential as Xenoblade 2 did, and I think it may be worth examining why Xenoblade 2 continues to be such a steady seller even after all this time.

Of course, Aostia82 has already outlined some great points in the OP. These remain true. The difference between when this article was initially made however and now is that we have a new game in the series to track, one that despite a strong launch and glowing critical reception, seems to be struggling to match its predecessor's sustained sales after launch. I don't say this to diminish Xenoblade 3, but it's just a simple reality that it has not shown impressive growth following its launch the way Xenoblade 2 did. The performance is more typical of other Japanese RPGs. Which means that something (or multiple things) about Xenoblade 2 must have played a role in its success that are unique to it.

Let's examine the OP's reasons for success, and how they apply to 2, 3, and definitive edition:
The Switch Effect- This is without a doubt responsible for Xenoblade 2's strong (at the time) debut. The game garnered over a milion in sales during its launch month. For comparison, that is comparable to what the original Xenoblade did lifetime on the Wii, and more than what Xenoblade X had done on the Wii U. The Switch was hot, and this was one of the first Japanese RPGs on the system, it had a great chance to fill an as of then unoccupied niche. So, how did this apply to Definitive Edition and Xenoblade 3? Pretty similarly! Both games had higher launches that Xenoblade 2, building both on the Switch's momentum and the momentum of Xenoblade 2. But of course, the real story is about the legs, which I'll get to.

Fully Promoted- Nintendo undoubtedly went big on the promotion of Xenoblade 2, revealing it during the January 2017 Switch event, giving it presence in Directs, including a full direct of its own, and having multiple trailers. By comparison, Definitive Edition was revealed during a Direct with the coveted "one more thing" finale slot, but marketed more or less like an average release otherwise. Xenoblade 3 had a marketing cycle closer to 2s, with it also being revealed as a "one more thing", getting a dedicated Direct of its own and real estate in other directs, and also several well produced trailers.

Anime Art Style- Xenoblade 2 is easily the most explicit about its anime inspirations in the series, for better and worse as outlined in the OP. This led to a lot of negative discussion of the game, both in online circles and even among popular influencers like videogamedunkey. This would also lead to a lot of the fans sticking up for the game as well. It's possible that the sheer endurance of these debates helped keep the game in the conversation well past its expected shelf life. Despite this, the artstyle itself would be very influential for the series, with Definitive Edition updating the Wii release's art style to something more closely resembling 2, and Xenoblade 3's art style seeming to be a refinement of 2's art style.

Gacha- Not much to say here since I can't compare it to the other games aside from noting its absense in them. I will say that despite some of the negative opinions on the gacha system, I do feel it accomplishes its goal of diversifying playthroughs and adding an exciting but optional element to help break up other parts of the game. Intended or not, it also seems to have been healthy for streamers and let's players, with chats often very enthusiastic about the blade pulls, which I think is one factor that has helped 2 stay fairly popular in those crowds.

Post Launch Content- Xenoblade 2 had a fairly robust post launch content map, which added in several fixes, QoL updates, new quests, items, characters, etc, leading up to a prequel campaign with Torna The Golden Country. Torna went on to be very well received and is often considered an essential part of the full experience of Xenoblade 2. This also set the precedent that Definitve Edition and Xenoblade 3 would follow, to have an additional campaign included on top of the base game, either as an included mode for Definitive Edition, or as DLC for 3. Definitve Edition did not receive further DLC updates after launch, but 3 did receive a similar roll out of extra modes, characters, etc leading up to the Future Redeemed Campaign, that acted as an arc Finale.

The Smash Bros. Effect- I'll be honest and say I disagree with some of the opinions that attribute Xenoblade 2's longevity to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I think the game undoubtedly did increase exposure and sold some people on the game, but I don't believe it is the primary driver of the game's sustained success the way some do, for a few reasons. First is that Shulk has also been in Smash Bros. since Smash 4, and this had not led to similar sales legs for Definitive Edition. Second is that 2 was already showing great legs even before Pyra and Mythra were announced for Smash Ultimate. Again, did this help? Certainly. Would Xenoblade 2 still be the most financially successful game in the series without Smash? Absolutely.

So, these are some of the factors that are attributed to Xenoblade 2's success, and again these are all important factors. However, I think these really only explain Xenoblade 2's early success (as well as Definitive Edition and 3's) but not its continued, late life success. Here are the most current sales numbers we have for 2:
  • December2017 - 1.06m
  • March 2018 - 1.31m (+250k)
  • June 2018 - 1.42m (+110k)
  • September 2018 - 1.53m (+110k)
  • December 2018 - 1.65m (+120k)
  • March2019 - 1.73m (+80k)
  • December 2019 - 1.92m (+190k in 9 months)
  • June 2020 - 2.05m (+130k in 6 months)
  • December 2020 - 2.17m (+120k in 6 months)
  • December 2021 - 2.44m (+270k in 12 months)
  • December 2022 - 2.70m (+260k in 12 months)
By Comparison, Xenoblade Definitive Edition sold 200K last year. That's still respectable and not far from 2's 260K, but it's also 3 years more recent and has already been overtaken by 2's legs. Similarly, Xenoblade 3 debuted to a series best 1.72 M, but as of March, it seems to have only moved an additional 140K since launch, and is in danger of also being overtaken by 2's legs.
@pierre485 has made some charts that help visualize the difference between games:

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Given all of the above, a few things are clear. Xenoblade 2 will comfortably remain the best selling game in the series for the foreseeable future, and may already be selling better than any other game in the series in the current year. The game simply must have a value proposition to it that is responsible for its sustained success that the others lack. Timing, early release, Smash, all of these help explain its early success and brand recognition, but can't fully explain its continued longevity, especially when the other games are not seeing the same benefit. People have attributed Xenoblade 3's performance to a natural cap for the kind of game it is, and yet... 2 seems exempt from that limiter.

So what is so different about Xenoblade 2? What makes it so much more enduring? I have a few thoughts personally, but doubt these encompass the full explanation.

  • Continued debate, aka "The Edelgard Effect". Let's look at anothe series, Fire Emblem. Three Houses was a breakout hit, and was followed up by Engage. Many consider Engage to have superior gameplay to Three Houses. Yet Three Houses undoubtedly remains the more popular game. This can partially be attributed to its more complex tone, it's persona like social interactions, and its early release on Switch. But if you've been a part of the discourse around the game, you know that over half of all conversations lead back to Edelgard. Edelgard is a divisive character to say the least, and people will argue endlessly about whether her actions are justified, whether she is a hero, a villain, etc. And it's not just Edelgard, but she's the most prominent example in the game of this. The point is, the story of Three Houses was interesting and complex enough that people will not stop debating these points. Now, all the Xenoblade games have interesting and complex stories, so I'm not going to compare them on that front. I will say that Xenoblade 2 does inspire a lot of debate about the game itself, as it has a lot of vehement dislikers and adoring fans. This ongoing dispute has kept conversations about the game going for years, and has undoubtedly put more eyes on the game.
  • The Gacha system- I mentioned this earlier, but I genuinely believe this is a hidden strength of the game rather than a weakness. I think its a large part of what makes the game popular for streamers and let's players, and I think there is a very dedicated group of fans of the game who really enjoy cheering on the players for their rare blade pulls. A lot of streamers really lean in to this as well and play it up. It may be a relatively small thing, but I think it really has made the game more enjoyable to watch someone else play.
  • Word of Mouth- Again, every game in the series benefits from this, but in my experience, I think 2 has a certain intrigue and mystique unique to it. As mentioned above, the game is divisive, which invites curiosity. Many people insist that certain aspects of the game such as the villains or the battle system or outstanding. The music is very popular outside the context of the game. I think 3 is somewhat hurt by its status as a sequel that is heavily referential to the prior games, but 2 can easily be a starting point.
  • The light hearted, comedic tone- I think this may entice more people to try the game out over the other, more initially grim games in the series. This is another maligned aspect in some circles I feel is something of a hidden strength. Of course, paradoxically Xenoblade 2 is potentially the most thematically heavy game in the series with perhaps some of the darker moments, so that also contributes to the positive word of mouth of the people who finish it.
Anyway, that was a lot to write, and I feel I didn't even really say a lot of what I wanted to, I just wanted to help begin an examination of why this game continues to sell so freaking well. I hope you all can help add your own thoughts.
 
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Completely anecdotal but maybe significant observation: the Xenoblade 3 (base game) character that gets most fan art is… Nia, a returning character from Xenoblade 2.

I think the tone and the characters are main drive of 2’s bigger success over 1 and 3.
JRPG players really engage with compelling characters that have a colorful design (P5, FETH…).
 
I really don't find XC2's success anymore complicated then the fact that it's an easy jumping on point into the series and that smash made its name reach far. I really do also feel that if Noah makes it to smash 6/Ultimate dx we'll see a similar late in the game boost. 2 million is a shoe in for xc3. That's a success. I recall them stating at 1.7m for xc2 that it had massively exceeded their expectations. Suffice to say I don't think xc3 was much if any more expensive to produce then 2. Monolith is certainly happy for now, and that's all that matters on that front.

That having been said, I'm really happy that xc2 continues to sell. It is one of my favorite games ever, even if I do (very slightly) prefer 1 and 3. Seeing it suceed against all those who put it down is a real sight to behold. And I think that monolith has done a wonderful job on switch all around, which puts them in an increadibly strong position going into the next generation. Xenoblade 4 will be the most unbound entry in the xeno series since at least xcx. It will be an interesting and wonderful sight.
 
XCDE sold 200k last year. I don't think XC2 is going to only sell 160k this year. Over 200k is a given, maybe even up to 250k, with XC3 giving it a boost that slows down the decline it would otherwise have.
I was god damn right. 260k for XC2 in 2022 and another 200k for XCDE.
I remember XCDE disappointing me with it's legs in early 2021. And then it's flat yoy in 2022. Of course XC3 is the main reason for that. Nonetheless I can now see XC3 also having good long term legs, since both XCDE and XC2 had those.
 
I was god damn right. 260k for XC2 in 2022 and another 200k for XCDE.
I remember XCDE disappointing me with it's legs in early 2021. And then it's flat yoy in 2022. Of course XC3 is the main reason for that. Nonetheless I can now see XC3 also having good long term legs, since both XCDE and XC2 had those.

XC3's legs will definitely be impacted by Switcheroo 3 releasing, and will depend heavily on a port or a series "all-in-one" re-release which I could see happen.
 
please consider piracy and emulation was not a thing when xc2 release. We know piracy is not that big, but xeno games are stample for piracy in switch generation (same zelda series) the diference that 300 thousand for TOTK its nothing, but its alot for XC 3.
 
please consider piracy and emulation was not a thing when xc2 release. We know piracy is not that big, but xeno games are stample for piracy in switch generation (same zelda series) the diference that 300 thousand for TOTK its nothing, but its alot for XC 3.
That's kind of part of my point though. It's not Xenoblade 2's launch that I find curious, it had the lowest of the three Switch games. It's been the legs, particularly the legs this year. Piracy and Emulation would affect it as much as the other games, but it is still noticeably strong.
 
The efforts to downplay Xenoblade 2's massive success in comparison to all of the other games in the series/franchise (dating back to xenogears) will never stop being amusing and not surprisingly it always comes from a certain group of people. Maybe we will get hollywood celebrities expressing interest and journos and youtubers spreading rumours about Fire Emblem and Xenoblade hollywood movies now that one is a million over the best selling of that "tentpole" franchise and the other is within touching distance of it, oh wait.
 
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Things i think helped Xenoblade 2 overtime:

- The OST being really great and people still talking about and listening to it
- Etika really liked the game and it was really popular with Nintendo audiences, so he playing game until the end made people more interested after seeing him playing until the end
- Characters like Mythra and Pyra are popular for certain kind of audiences
- People tell great things about the story in JRPG circles.

It was one of the first games i bought when i got a Switch too
 
I really don't find XC2's success anymore complicated then the fact that it's an easy jumping on point into the series and that smash made its name reach far. I really do also feel that if Noah makes it to smash 6/Ultimate dx we'll see a similar late in the game boost. 2 million is a shoe in for xc3. That's a success. I recall them stating at 1.7m for xc2 that it had massively exceeded their expectations. Suffice to say I don't think xc3 was much if any more expensive to produce then 2. Monolith is certainly happy for now, and that's all that matters on that front.

That having been said, I'm really happy that xc2 continues to sell. It is one of my favorite games ever, even if I do (very slightly) prefer 1 and 3. Seeing it suceed against all those who put it down is a real sight to behold. And I think that monolith has done a wonderful job on switch all around, which puts them in an increadibly strong position going into the next generation. Xenoblade 4 will be the most unbound entry in the xeno series since at least xcx. It will be an interesting and wonderful sight.
No doubt XB2 benefitted some from Ultimate but not alot.. people overestimates it being the reason for this legs.. XB2 has the same legs prior Smash and 1.5 years after Smash inclusion of Pyra/Mythra

Now I wonder if Xenoblade 2 can reach 3m before switch successor releases
 
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Simply put it is my favourite Xenoblade game and one of the best RPGs of all time. How I am glad I did not listen to the online backlash about the blades. I couldn't even finish XB 3 despite having been so hyped for it. It is just a bit flat or too safe for me. I don't like the job system with everyone basically being able to be every class.

I like having my characters distinct in my RPGs with a few limited roles/classes they can excel at.

2 has great character stories and backgrounds as well as a great feeling of exploration/interesting areas. The last RPG that made me so happy with exploration was Skies of Arcadia. Granted, it could be a bit rough to sort out verticality when exploring and not having some blade skills could be annoying with traversal but it more than made up for it with the total package. I am very tempted to give it a second playthrough as it has been 5 years or so now for me.

Also, has the best and most memorable music by far. I was already enjoying the music on Youtube before I even played it and once I played it, it cemented it as one of the more inspired RPG soundtracks. Really enjoyed Torna too!
 
One thing that makes XC2 stand out against the other ones (although i don't know about X) is it's optimism. There's only rare sections where the tone is downbeat or outright gloomy (XC3 has this a lot, at least imo). The protagonists and almost all side-characters (especially some of the blades) are somewhere between happy go lucky and sometimes downright silly. I think this makes it much easier to converse about it in a way that makes people want to check it out further and I think that plays a big role in the games legs.
 
please consider piracy and emulation was not a thing when xc2 release. We know piracy is not that big, but xeno games are stample for piracy in switch generation (same zelda series) the diference that 300 thousand for TOTK its nothing, but its alot for XC 3.

As @WestEgg said, this would affect the legs of something like XC2 as much as it would affect a new release. XC2 just seems to have better legs while XC3 had a bigger opening (which is something we've come to expect from on later Switch releases). Something about XC2 has just resonated better and lasted long-term.

Also I don't think we're talking on levels of multiple hundreds of thousands.
 
Something I just noticed, but kind of fits the conversation at large. This thread, even before I bumped it yesterday was the most commented upon in the “sales story” series of threads… by a lot. Aside from the main OT itself, this thread has 3x more engagement than the next most popular Sales Story. It’s just pretty wild that there are other, nominally more popular games in discussed in these threads, yet Xenoblade 2 is the one that really brought forth discussion, which kind of goes along with my point about “The Edelgard Effect”.
 
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please consider piracy and emulation was not a thing when xc2 release. We know piracy is not that big, but xeno games are stample for piracy in switch generation (same zelda series) the diference that 300 thousand for TOTK its nothing, but its alot for XC 3.
Do you have sources for the 300 thousand on TOTK? Also, this is the first I've heard of "please consider piracy". What's the story there?
 
Great bump @WestEgg !
I cant deep dive into it right now, I would just add that next year (CESA White paper 24) will give us a final picture of XB3 sales curve

It's high debut and slight overshipment can be tricky in getting its legs right
 
Something I just noticed, but kind of fits the conversation at large. This thread, even before I bumped it yesterday was the most commented upon in the “sales story” series of threads… by a lot. Aside from the main OT itself, this thread has 3x more engagement than the next most popular Sales Story. It’s just pretty wild that there are other, nominally more popular games in discussed in these threads, yet Xenoblade 2 is the one that really brought forth discussion, which kind of goes along with my point about “The Edelgard Effect”.
The thing with Xenoblade 2 discussions is that it has like you said vehement dislikers even before the game released and probably never even played the game, but because the game succeeded sales wise and still continues to do so and also gaining adoration from more people who discover the game, they can't just let go and ended up still being outright dismissive whenever someone cheers for it or congratulating the game's milestones, and keeps repeating the same stuff that's been said ages ago. It keeps engagement strong, in exchange for being toxic and oftentimes turning off-topic.

Had the game flopped, the discussion about XC2 will surely mellow down within a year of release, just like its predecessor XCX.
 
Even after all this time I consider it one of the best JRPGs on Switch. The amazing sense of adventure, the characters, the story and locations you visit... And the combat is the best, I also thought it was awesome that I randomly pulled KOS-MOS from a common core when just trying to get blades for the Poppibuster quest, or that I had Ursula early and was able to complete her quest by the end of the game (those gacha moments some are saying was good for the game)

XC3 honestly kinda underwhelmed, don't get me wrong I put 150 hours in (DLC included) but XC2 remains my favorite in the series.
 
Maybe it’s my bias talking but XC2 just has an intrinsic sense of wonder to it, that I feel really captures people’s hearts and in turn makes them really push others to play it and keep it in the conversation. I know I will be gushing about it for years to come and nothing will make me shut up about it any chance I get
 
Xenoblade 2 for me has a good balance of lighthearted moments and serious ones. It feels like you're going on a great adventure across this world alongside a big new family. Best comparision to it I can make is One Piece. I think that kind of balance and sense of adventure resonates with people more compared to a more serious one.
It also helps that it's messages are more subtle and not thrown at your face constantly like in Xenoblade 3 which, alongside the last 2 chapters, is what I think caused the legs to not be as impressive as 2's.
 
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Xenoblade 2 for me has a good balance of lighthearted moments and serious ones. It feels like you're going on a great adventure across this world alongside a big new family. Best comparision to it I can make is One Piece. I think that kind of balance and sense of adventure resonates with people more compared to a more serious one.
It also helps that it's messages are more subtle and not thrown at your face constantly like in Xenoblade 3 which, alongside the last 2 chapters, is what I think caused the legs to not be as impressive as 2's.
That's why I compare it to Skies of Arcadia which has the same sense of exploration and discovery like One Piece.
 
Xenoblade 2 for me has a good balance of lighthearted moments and serious ones. It feels like you're going on a great adventure across this world alongside a big new family. Best comparision to it I can make is One Piece. I think that kind of balance and sense of adventure resonates with people more compared to a more serious one.
It also helps that it's messages are more subtle and not thrown at your face constantly like in Xenoblade 3 which, alongside the last 2 chapters, is what I think caused the legs to not be as impressive as 2's.
The One Piece comparison is spot on. It helps that the game basically takes place in a big sea going island to island too, makes for a very similar vibe.
 
That's why I compare it to Skies of Arcadia which has the same sense of exploration and discovery like One Piece.

I love Xenoblade games, and Skies of Arcadia is one of my favorite games of all time, but they don't feel the same to me. I mean, Skies of Arcadia had sky exploration and ship battles... there is nothing like this in any other game... 🥲
 
Two simple reasons:
- it released early on
- it's just that good of a jrpg

"Many good games don't sell well", true on some level, but we're talking about one of the most narrow genres there is, the 'high budget'-, 3d-, open world-, cinematic jrpg genre. There's like three other developers in the world that even bother making such games and EVERYTIME one releases, it gets the world's attention. Tales of Arise, FF16, the upcoming Atlus Metaphor. I'm not talking about @Tbone5189 's niche barrier-meme here. This type of game is ultra rare. So when one releases and when it's good, people WILL notice.

I'm not gonna into specifics, but Xenoblade 2 has managed to become one of those rare 'arche-jrpgs' that fans of the genre (myself included) just crave. Someone here mentioned Skies of Arcadia - that was the Dreamcast's 'arche-jrpg'. When you think of PS1, yiu get FF7. PS2 got FF10. The SNES had FF6, Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. Those are jrpgs that people instantly identify with an entire console generation. XB:DE? Old game. XB3? Plenty of key flaws. But XB2? The perfect adventure story that has great balance between gameplay and cutscenes, one of the most engaging battle systems that (unlike any other jrpg's) evolves as you keep playing, and fantastic character designs that, outside of a vocal minority, are beloved by those who played the game. Such great designs that to this day, fanart is going strong and the latest figures became the topseller of the year for collectible figures.

Xenoblade 2 is a game that simply came together so well that it oozes quality, and where it might be lacking, it compensated it with a promise of ambition that is sure to be fulfilled later on. People don't want to miss out on this 'arche-jrpg' and as long as Switch 1 lives, so will Xenoblade 2.
 
I love Xenoblade games, and Skies of Arcadia is one of my favorite games of all time, but they don't feel the same to me. I mean, Skies of Arcadia had sky exploration and ship battles... there is nothing like this in any other game... 🥲
Oh I agree. It's more the feeling of discovering a new world and different parts of that world.

I miss Skies as well. How I wish there would be a proper remake or sequel that would do it justice.
 
Gramps... So the 3 million seller was... here all along...

Seriously though it's incredible to see the game will probably end up tripling its initial sales by the time Switch leaves. Remember that interview with Harada where Takahashi said the game had surpassed their expectations at 1.73 million copies sold but he felt that was the limit? Nah bro, turns out it still had another million left in it, plus whatever it manages to sell from now on.
 
Gramps... So the 3 million seller was... here all along...

Seriously though it's incredible to see the game will probably end up tripling its initial sales by the time Switch leaves. Remember that interview with Harada where Takahashi said the game had surpassed their expectations at 1.73 million copies sold but he felt that was the limit? Nah bro, turns out it still had another million left in it, plus whatever it manages to sell from now on.
With Future Redeemed having direct references to 2 and the Pyra and Mythra amiibos finally releasing, XC2 once again has some spotlight on itself, it’ll easily reach 3m eventually
 
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