The leadup to the release of Monster Hunter World saw a lot of discussion on whether the game had the potential to be successful in Japan, especially in light of the fact that it was to be released on a home console and not on a portable console.
Many argued that, given the Japanese gamers’ widespread preference of portable consoles (which fits their commuting habits very well), releasing the game exclusively on PS4 would have seriously hindered its local success, but the debut results appear to disprove that notion. The game sold 1,245,169 copies, which were over 92% of its initial shipment according to Media Create.
Comparing with historical data also from Media Create, this is certainly in the same order of magnitude as the best among previous main game launches, which is Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS with 1,715,060 units. If we want to count sales of games that aren’t main entries of the series, the record actually belongs to Monster Hunter Portable 3rd on PSP with 1,950,717 copies, but again, we’re in the same order of magnitude.
It’s also relevant to mention that this only counts physical retail sales, as Media Create does not consider digital sales. The digital share on PS4 today is much, much higher than that on 3DS in 2013 (and even more so than on PSP in 2010), so the actual gap is probably much smaller.
Yet, there is more we can discover if we analyze the sales of the whole series in Japan (which have been provided by Media Create over the years) compared to the numbers sold by their platforms at the time of the games’ launch.
Here is a handy list with the attach rate of each game. Main game launches are bolded. Yes, I know that Generations is technically considered a spin-off, but it was pretty much advertised in Japan as a mainline game.
- Monster Hunter (2004): 113,640 copies sold on 14,514,968 PS2 (1:127.728)
- Monster Hunter G (2005) 127,846 copies sold on 16,982,391 PS2 (1:132.835)
- Monster Hunter Freedom (2005) 113,640 copiessold on 2,228,797 PSP (1:19.613)
- Monster Hunter 2 (2006) 362,173 copies sold on 18,945,898 PS2 (1:52.312)
- Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (2007) 705,281 Copies sold on 4,969,959 PSP (1:7.047)
- Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (2008) 880,468 sold on copies 8,773,893 PSP (1:9.965)
- Monster Hunter Tri (2009) 520,138 copies 8,288,417 sold on Wii (1:15.935)
- Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (2010) 1,950,717 sold on 16,033,919 PSP (1:8.220)
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (2011) 521,959 copies sold on 3,234,299 3DS (1:6.196)
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U (2012) 106,388 copies sold on 308,142 Wii U (1:2.897)
- Monster Hunter 4 (2013) 1,715,060 copies sold on 12,593,343 3DS (1:7.343)
- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (2014) 1,446,289 copies sold on 16,524,208 3DS (1:11.425)
- Monster Hunter Generations (2015) 1,488,367 copies sold on 19,551,124 3DS (1:13.135)
- Monster Hunter XX (2017) 848,467 copies sold on 22,520,464 3DS (1:26.542)
- Monster Hunter XX Nintendo Switch Ver. (2017) 84,277 copies sold on 1,527,962 Switch (1:18.130)
- Monster Hunter World (2018) 1,245,169 copies sold on 6,220,546 PS4 1:5 (1:4.995)
By observing the list, we notice that Monster Hunter World is the new Monster Hunter game with the best attach rate in the series history, with roughly one game bought in Japan for each five PS4 in the hand of a game, and this is just considering retail. It beats the previous record-holder, which was Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS, that indeed had the best overall sales, but its 1,715,060 copies were sold to a much bigger installed base of 12,593,343 3DS units.
If we also consider expansions, Monster Hunter World‘s debut attach rate is still the best, beating Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate that sold 521,959 copies within 3,234,299 3DS units, and has an attach rate of roughly 1:62.
Only if we count ports on new platforms, Monster Hunter World‘s exceptional attach rate slides in second place, behind Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate‘s Wii U port. Of course, this is a bit of an aberration, since it was a launch title for the console.
So there you have it. At least looking at debut numbers, not being on a portable console does not appear to have specifically hindered Monster Hunter World‘s sales. Taking into consideration the proportion of sales compared to the installed base, it actually beats all the portable entries, including both PSP and 3DS.
Could it have sold well if it launched on a portable console? Most probably. but looking at the numbers following Monster Hunte Portable 3rd‘s peak, it’s easy to notice that sales of the series on portables have steadily declined. There is only so much you can innovate when you’re constricted by weak hardware, and the series probably started to feel a bit stale even to its hardcore fans in Japan.
Launching on relatively powerful home consoles provided Capcom with the ability to go all out on elements that they couldn’t focus on before, providing the series with that breath of fresh air that it much needed.
If you want to learn more about Monster Hunter World, you can check out our review. It’s currently available for PS4 and Xbox One, and it’ll come to PC in the fall.