Capcom’s resurgence over the last generation has been a sight to behold. We have seen them revitalize long running, once lauded, and then- recently criticized franchises such as Resident Evil and Mega Man over the last few years. But arguably Capcom’s biggest accomplishment over this period has been what the publisher managed to do with the Monster Hunter series.
Monster Hunter has been a pretty long time cult hit in the west, but it’s never truly managed to break out here beyond a niche hit status. This has, of course, been in stark contrast to the series’ explosive popularity over in Japan (where the presence of a Monster Hunter game on a system can singlehandedly make or break said system’s fortunes on the market). It is also, ironically, in spite of the fact that the Monster Hunter IP is the one franchise that Capcom never really mismanaged. While Resident Evil hit its nadir with Resident Evil 6, Monster Hunter has been consistently great, building on itself and moving from strength to strength.
So it was extremely heartening to see the franchise finally break out in the west with Monster Hunter World – not just break out as an underground hit, like Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate or Generations on 3DS, which were both the highest sellers in the series in the west before (with a little over a million copies each sold outside of Japan). No, Monster Hunter World managed to go north of 10 million units sold in the west, and in the process, became Capcom’s single most successful game of all time. It’s actually continued to sell consistently ever since its release three years ago, and at this point, there is little doubt that Monster Hunter has become a tentpole, flagship brand for Capcom, not just in Japan, but globally, as it was always meant to be.
Which is why Monster Hunter Rise is such an interesting game to observe from the perspective of following the series’ fortunes. The follow up to Monster Hunter World is hitting not PS4, Xbox One, and PC (the platforms that World came to, and hit it big on), but Nintendo Switch exclusively (although a PC port has been leaked to be in development, and due for release a few months after the Switch version launches). Of course, a portable Monster Hunter game accompanying the major console release has been a series tradition for as long as the series has existed, so a Monster Hunter World follow up coming to the only portable system on the market isn’t really that surprising at all. Moreover, the existence of a Monster Hunter game on the Switch will help the franchise maintain its monster (heh) popularity in Japan, where the Switch is the only console that does well, and even Monster Hunter World was capped at sales half of what it could have seen on PSP or 3DS on PS4.
So Monster Hunter Rise’s existence makes total sense, and its popularity in Japan at least is guaranteed. However, how will the game end up doing in the west, where Monster Hunter World found the bulk of its success?
The thing that a lot of people often ignore in discussions about Switch software sales is that, unlike a lot of previous systems that did well in Japan (such as the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita), its strong sales in Japan are not at the expense of strong sales in the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, in fact, the Switch has exhibited software sales every bit as strong as the PS4 (which has been a monster when it comes to software sales outside of Japan, but not in Japan), making the Switch the rare system that manages to move software as well outside of Japan as inside it. Japanese games, in fact, have often found their Switch versions to be the biggest sellers, even outside of Japan – for instance, Tales of Vesperia sold the most on the Switch in the west, and NIS America reported that Switch sales of games such as Disgaea 5 and Ys 8 were beyond the sales of those games on the PS4, in spite of the fact that the Switch got those games months or sometimes years later than the PS4 did – to the extent that for Disgaea 6, NIS America decided to release the game only on the Switch outside of Japan.
The point of this breakdown of sales is to establish that the Switch is every bit as capable of selling games globally as the PS4 – if not more. It’s as lucrative a market for games outside of Japan as it is in Japan, joining the rarefied company of systems such as the PS2 in achieving that feat. All of which is to say, that unlike, say, the 3DS or Wii versions of Monster Hunter games, which sold the disproportionate bulk of their lifetime sales in Japan, with minimal sales coming from the rest of the world, Monster Hunter Rise could – in fact, probably will – very well see massive sales from Japan as well as the rest of the world (which, again, is something that no previous game in the series has managed).
Enthusiasm for Monster Hunter Rise has been fairly evident in other ways too – for example, when Capcom launched the beta for the game on the eShop earlier this month, the servers crashed, and remained crashed for hours, buckling under the demand for a demo – not even the full game, not an expansion, just a demo. Very clearly, there is demand for a Monster Hunter game on the Switch (which was already evident previously thanks to just how strongly Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, the Switch enhanced port of an older 3DS game, performed in spite of releasing with minimal market, and after Monster Hunter World).
Monster Hunter Rise is also benefitting from Capcom treating it as a full-fledged mainline entry; so far, everything they have shown of the game looks pretty great, and the new verticality and mobility features seem to have gone down well with the series’ fanbase, judging by the reactions to the beta. Throw in the fact that this is actually the first Monster Hunter game to be built using the REEngine, meaning it’s a hell of a looker on the Switch – arguably the best looking third party game on the system, actually – and its appeal on the platform is only strengthened.
I don’t expect Monster Hunter Rise to outperform Monster Hunter World, which at this point is north of 15 million units worldwide, because that’s ridiculous. World hit three separate systems, and did well on all of them. Rise will only be launching on the Switch, and on PC if those leaks end up having merit (which they almost certainly do, but it’s best to qualify these statements absent an official confirmation). However, I do think it will be a very strong seller, and that Rise on the Switch may in fact end up selling higher than either of the Xbox One or PS4 versions of World taken individually (given the Switch’s propensity for insane software sales, the demand for a portable Monster Hunter, and the Nintendo audience’s propensity for the franchise, it’s not too unrealistic an expectation).
Even if it doesn’t, however, it will probably do very well, and end up further solidifying the Monster Hunter franchise’s place and footprint in the west. More than anything else, as a fan of this series, that’s all I really care about.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.