You're not logged in | Login / Register | News Filter | Submit News

Despite releasing multiple years before, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mortal Kombat 11 were among the top-selling games of 2021

Who says fighting games can't sell?

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • January 19, 2022 at 2:34 p.m. PST • Comments: 11

Fighting games are still a fairly niche genre in the grand scheme of the whole video game industry, but every now and then there will be certain titles that end up as absolutely smash hits.

The NPD Group recently revealed the list of the best-selling video games for 2021 in the United States where Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mortal Kombat 11 both managed to make the cut despite releasing multiple years prior.

Smash Ultimate, which first released in December 2018, finished last year ranked 5th overall for sales on the Nintendo Switch itself (not counting digital sales) and reached the same for the month of December as well.

As for all platforms combined, Smash ended up in 17th place overall though it was still behind other Nintendo titles like Mario Kart 8 and Pokémon: Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl.

The game ended the year strong ranked 12th in December too.

NetherRealm Studios' latest endeavor cracked both the top lists for PlayStation and Xbox where MK11 finished ranked 17th and 14th respectively.

Mortal Kombat 11 landed a few spaces lower than Smash at 19th for 2021 in the U.S.

Not bad for a fighting game that came out in 2019 and didn't receive any big updates last year.

What's perhaps more impressive for the titles though is NPD's Matt Piscatella revealing that only three games managed to make the top 20 in 2019, 2020 and 2021 with MK11 and Smash making up two of them — Mario Kart 8 was the third.

Smash Ultimate quickly began breaking records after its launch by not only becoming the best-selling entry in the franchise but the top fighting game of all time with 25.71 million copies sold as of the end of September.

Mortal Kombat 11 saw a similarly strong trajectory by reaching 12 million copies sold as of July 2021, and though it hadn't quite reached the milestone of becoming the best-selling title in the 30-year-old franchise at the time, there's a really strong chance it is by now.

So what is it about these titles in particular that make them stand head and shoulders above the Street Fighter 5s and Tekken 7s of the world in terms of sales?

The easiest answer would be that they both offer the most mass appeal to the general gaming audience outside of the more hardcore fighting game fanbase.

Smash of course has its roots planted in a more casual party setting among friends full of recognizable and iconic characters, which had been turned up to 12 for Ultimate's wild roster.

Mortal Kombat, on the other hand, for the past decade has placed extra emphasis on its cinematic story modes for appealing single-player content as well as providing the bloody spectacle the series is famous / infamous for.

Other companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco have attempted to include their own Mortal Kombat-esque story modes this past generation, but no one has been able to match the production value and polish as NRS.

That's not to say the rest of fighting games need to start copying everything Smash Bros. and Mortal Kombat does to find success.

Most notable fighting games nowadays are finding success already. In fact, this might be the time when we've seen the widest breadth of successful fighters in the history of the genre — at the very least since the early to mid '90s.

It just goes to stand then that these wins would push those at the top to even higher heights, which certainly appears to be the case.

Load comments (11)