Capcom’s Monster Hunter World, released for Xbox One and PS4 in January, has become the publisher’s bestselling title yet. It recently announced that the game shipped 7.5 million units (a combination of physically-distributed and digitally-sold copies), with the planned PC conversion yet to hit the market. Capcom previously announced shipments of 5 million just days after launch, upgrading to 6 million just under two weeks later.
The Monster Hunter series has traditionally seen strong uptake in Japan, but reception in the west has been less so, since the franchise debuted on PS2 in 2004. Capcom’s efforts to lure new, wider audiences into Monster Hunter World have no doubt paid off, and the engrossing play systems and luxuriant production values for which the company is known are present here. But there’s arguably a broader confluence of matters driving this unprecedented wave of success for the title.
First is that the console market has matured greatly this generation, in terms of audience acceptance of service-style game consumption. Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege and Digital Extreme’s Warframe have illustrated that an operating model more in line with massively-multiplayer online games can be robustly sustained on consoles, provided it’s well implemented. Ditto Activision’s Destiny, which was an important early PS4 third-party partnership for PlayStation, not just because of the cachet touted by developer Bungie, but because of the importance of leveraging online relationships between groups of users as they migrate to a new console.
The second matter is immediate time frame: Whatever the churn experienced by Destiny 2 in December will have landed in Monster Hunter’s lap, with no other major new PvE multiplayer having hit consoles in January. Battle-royale shooters such as PublisherUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic’s Fortnite are certainly shaking up the landscape in PvP terms, but the console market is now sufficiently versed with games being operated as services that there’s increasing bandwidth available to PvE experiences, too.