Animal Crossing: New Leaf has become something of a smash hit in its native Japan; as of December, it has sold 2 million copies, becoming one of the most popular 3DS games yet and illustrating just how massive Nintendo's console is in the far east.

Download sales haven't been spoken about much lately, but in a recent interview with Nikkei, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dropped the impressive stats:

For a game that costs 4800 yen to sell 500,000 copies without a discount because it is a download is quite an event.

He isn't kidding, either. Half a million downloads for a game that costs that much and is also available at physical retail is incredible - although the recent shortage of copies in Japanese stores could have some part to play.

Elsewhere in the interview, Iwata also revealed the demographic of Animal Crossing: New Leaf players:

Using our Club Nintendo system we can learn the gender and age of our customers. If we look at the first 3 weeks of Animal Crossing sales to the end of November, the highest group is 19 to 24 year-old women. This is an age-range that is typically found in fewer numbers for Nintendo. I've never seen anything like it; a game that sells like this on a Nintendo hardware.

However, something interesting is the gender of 3DS purchasers. If we look at the male-female ratio as a whole, it divides into 69% males, 31% female, but if we limit it to just those customers that purchased the hardware at the same time as Animal Crossing the percentages become 44% male and 56% female. These are the sort of numbers that leave me dumbfounded.

Interestingly, Iwata also stated that much of the game's success was down to smartphones - a surprising comment when you consider that many industry experts are saying that iOS and Android are eating away at Nintendo's market share:

What really helped to spread this around was social media, and smart phones. What really sold Animal Crossing to women this time was, without question, smart phones

Animal Crossing: New Leaf launches in North America and Europe later this year.

[source, via]