Prof. Sakamoto & Hyadain Hobonichi Concert
A topic that comes up often but that few know about is just how well the MOTHER games do in each territory. Well, mostly in Japan, because only one game has ever been released outside of Japan in the 20 years that the series has existed.
Getting some of these numbers wasn’t easy, and no, vgchartz wasn’t consulted for any of these. Yes, I know how off their data can be. They even had MOTHER 2’s sales at like 800,000, when it actuality it was less than half of that according to Japanese sources. Most of these figures come from NPD data, MOTHER Party, and Enterbrain.
Also, gamers have this mindset that a game must sell a million copies for it to be successful. That’s not true, people just have a fascination with that number, so try not to fall into that trap 😛 Especially back in the day, many games didn’t sell anywhere close to a million copies but are still considered successes today. Like Final Fantasy III (US). See this interview with Ted Woolsey for an interesting look at how things were then.
Anyway, on to the numbers!
|Japan||North America||Other Regions|
|MOTHER 2 (EarthBound)||~300,000||~140,000||0|
|MOTHER 1+2 (original)||~240,000||0||0|
|MOTHER 1+2 (Value Selection reprint)||~80,000||0||0|
MOTHER 1 came out during Japan’s Famicom boom, when everyone, not just the hardcore crowd, was playing games like crazy. By the time MOTHER 2 came out, the boom had ended and most of the casual crowd had moved away from gaming. This is why sales decreased and also partly why Itoi chose the slogan for MOTHER 2 that he did (“Kids, grownups, and even your sister”) – he wanted the game to appeal to more than just the hardcore crowd. He wanted these people to come back to gaming.
I think MOTHER 1+2 and MOTHER 3 didn’t do quite as well as Nintendo and Itoi had hoped, especially MOTHER 3. It sounds like they produced a lot more copies than there was demand for, and eventually game shops were filled with copies in the bargain bin – and this is why there was that giant Play-Asia sale a while back where you could get an import copy for like $15.
As for EarthBound’s sales, getting those numbers wasn’t easy. I’m actually not sure where reid and Jonk got them from, but they have connections and sources like crazy so I don’t doubt the numbers. They had done a bunch of this research for the EarthBound Anthology a few years ago. Anyway, apparently, the first year EB was released, it sold like 75,000 copies, and then the remaining amount was sold over the next few years. Not a very good showing for its first year, that’s for sure. There are a number of factors behind this, including the bizarre advertising campaign and the market conditions at the time, which I’ll go into more detail in a future article sometime. (My plan is to write up one big juicy article a month, and that’ll be one topic sometime.)
I didn’t bother to look up the Smash Bros. figures because they’re crazy and it seems like everyone has slightly different numbers, but all added together, they’ve probably sold in the tens of millions of copies. That’s tens of millions of people playing EarthBound-related stuff, which is pretty cool 😀 If only there was a way to get the EarthBound/MOTHER games re-released officially so these people could play the real games…
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