Though it'll take a number of weeks for sales figures to come through globally, it would seem that Metroid Dread has started strongly, driven by an extensive marketing campaign from Nintendo and a lot of positive word-of-mouth online. UK sales have been some of the first to come through, and though it failed to get past multi-platform titles Far Cry 6 and FIFA 22, Dread's launch weekend more than likely made it the IP's best opening in the country when factoring in eShop downloads (at the time of writing it's number one in the UK and US eShop chart).
The series hasn't historically been one of Nintendo's most successful, with its influence and cultural impact outweighing actual sales, but perhaps Dread can turn that around thanks to a combination of its quality and arriving on the hugely popular Switch. Yet the sales data and where Metroid games 'stand' in the bigger picture is interesting, and a new report from GamesIndustry.biz (focused on the UK market) is a fascinating read from that perspective.
It's well worth a look as it goes through the sales history of the series in the UK, giving insight into when the IP was closest to a major breakthrough (seemingly around the time of Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime: Hunters), and showing that - in the UK at least - the series' iconic standout, Super Metroid, performed pretty poorly at the time. This is arguably because at that point the SEGA Mega Drive was pushing the SNES hard in the UK market, but it's interesting to see.
Below is a little excerpt of the report, related to the last 5 years of the franchise and a turnaround with MercurySteam's efforts on Dread and previously Metroid: Samus Returns.
When Metroid did return in 2016, it was another controversial release — Metroid Prime: Federation Force on Nintendo 3DS. Similar to Hunters in some ways, Federation Force focused on action and multiplayer. But it wasn't what fans wanted, who disliked the original trailer and called on Nintendo to cancel the game via a petition. It received average reviews, and didn't even chart in the UK. Outside of the NES Classic Metroid re-release, Federation Force remains the UK's worst-selling Metroid.
Critically, things improved in 2017 when Nintendo returned to Metroid's 2D roots with a remake of Metroid Prime 2. Simply called: Metroid: Samus Returns, the game was made by European studio MercurySteam, and was very well received by critics. Unfortunately, it launched very late in the 3DS's lifespan (the Switch launched six months earlier) and sales for the game were low. But it outsold the game on which it was based, and even sold better than the Metroid Zero Mission.
It was no surprise MercurySteam was invited back to create another 2D Metroid. Metroid Dread released last week for Nintendo Switch. Heavily backed by Nintendo, the game received high critical praise. The game's launch sales were just slightly behind the launch of Metroid Prime, but in terms of revenue, it is the highest-grossing Metroid game launch so far.
Indeed, Metroid Dread, after just one week, is already the eighth best-selling Metroid game (and sixth in terms of revenue) and has already outsold Samus Returns. And that's without including the game's digital download data.
Also, here's a line of validation if, like this scribe, you often bemoan Nintendo's mis-steps with the brilliant Metroid Prime Trilogy release on Wii.
In 2009, Nintendo released a compilation of its Prime Trilogy. This game was only released in limited supply, which is why it only made No.11 in the list of best-selling Metroid games.
It's all very interesting, be sure to check out the full report to see where your favourite Metroid game stacks up in terms of UK sales.