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Just how big is the Metroid franchise in the UK? | UK Time Tunnel

GfK Entertainment shares with us details about the Metroid series through the ages

Metroid Dread arrived last week, the sequel to a game that launched almost 18 years ago. GamesIndustry.biz decided to take a trip down memory lane with GfK Entertainment, to remind ourselves of the franchise's high points (and low points).

Metroid is one of the most influential video game series in the world. It's a franchise that commands huge respect, to the extent that is even had an entire genre name after it -- Metroidvania.

Yet it's never been a commercial powerhouse. In the UK, across 15 Metroid games (the first Metroid game launched in a time before charts, so we don't have that information), the series has sold just over 600,000 units. To put that into context, that's considerably less than Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold in a year.

The early years of Metroid in the UK was slow. Metroid 2 on the Nintendo Gameboy, released back in 1992, failed to reach the charts at launch, although it is currently the seventh best-selling Metroid game so far.

Although widely recognised as one of the finest games ever made, 1994's Super Metroid on the SNES also got off to a very slow start in the UK, and remains the fourth worst-selling game in the series to-date.

In just a few days, Metroid Dread is already the sixth highest-grossing Metroid game, and that's without digital data

In just a few days, Metroid Dread is already the sixth highest-grossing Metroid game, and that's without digital data

What followed was a huge gap for the series. Neither the N64 nor the Gameboy Color saw anything of Samus during their reign at the end of the 1990s.

We next saw the series with Metroid Fusion on the Gameboy Advance in 2002. This was a significant improvement for the IP, performing significantly above its predecessors and it remains the best-selling 2D Metroid game. But it was the arrival of Metroid Prime in 2003 that the franchise had its biggest moment to-date.

Metroid Prime received significant praise and was heavily marketed, and it is still the best-selling Metroid game in UK chart history (in terms of units). The achievement is notable as the game was launched on the Nintendo GameCube, which sold very poorly in the UK.

What followed was a period of quick releaes for Metroid. In 2004, we received Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the NES original. The game outsold Metriod Fusion at launch, but it couldn't sustain the momentum and finished four places below Fusion in the all-time charts.

That same year, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes arrived on GameCube. The GameCube was beginning to wane at this point, and the Wii was 12 months away. As a result, Prime 2 sold a third of what Metroid Prime managed at launch. Sales did pick up slightly, but it is currently the weakest-selling game in the original Metroid Prime trilogy.

In 2005, the original Metroid was re-released as part of the NES Classics for Gameboy Advance. It was the third and final time the series launched on the GBA. Considering there was already a remake of the original on the platform, it's no surprise this didn't sell well at all, and remains the worst selling Metroid game.

Outside of the NES Classic Metroid re-release, Federation Force remains the UK's worst-selling Metroid

The Nintendo DS game Metroid Prime: Hunters, which was a more action-orientated take on the series and even featured online multiplayer. The game also received a free demo version (called First Hunt), which was packed in with the original DS launch in 2005.

The result was positive. Hunters, which released in 2006, is currently the third best-selling Metroid game of all time in the UK.

On the flipside, 2007's Metroid Prime Pinball (also on Nintendo DS) went the other way. It is the third worst-selling Metroid game in the UK.

Fortunately, that wasn't a sign of things to come. Later in 2007 came the final part (for now) in the Metroid Prime saga with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for Nintendo Wii. Although the game sold a little less than Metroid Prime by a mere 900 units, it generated more revenue, and the game is currently the highest-grossing Metroid game.

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.

A year later came Metroid: Other M, a different 3D Metroid game created by developer Team Ninja. Although the game reviewed well enough, it was a controversial release, with fans disappointed by its narrative and characterisation of Samus. As a result, it didn't match the Prime series in sales, and an extended hiatus followed.

2

Metroid Prime Trilogy was released in limited quantities

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 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 title on which it was based, and even sold better than the previous remake: 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.

Perhaps this is the moment Metroid can get the momentum it needs to establish itself as a big Nintendo IP in the UK.

Best-Selling Metroid Games By Units (GfK Entertainment data)

PositionYearTitleFormat
12003Metroid PrimeNintendo GameCube
2 2007Metroid Prime 3: CorruptionNintendo Wii
32006Metroid Prime: HuntersNintendo DS
42004Metroid Prime 2: EchoesNintendo GameCube
52002Metroid Fusion Gameboy Advance
62010Metroid: Other MNintendo Wii
71992Metroid 2: The Return of SamusGameboy
82021Metroid Dread Nintendo Switch
92004Metroid: Zero Mission Gameboy Advance
102017Metroid: Samus ReturnsNintendo 3DS
112009Metroid Prime Trilogy Nintendo Wii
121994Super MetroidSNES
132007Metroid Prime Pinball Nintendo DS
142016Metroid Prime: Federation ForceNintendo 3DS
152005Metroid (NES Classic) Gameboy Advance

Best-Selling Metroid Games By Revenue

PositionYearTitleFormat
12003Metroid Prime 3: CorruptionNintendo Wii
2 2007Metroid PrimeNintendo GameCube
32006Metroid Prime: HuntersNintendo DS
42004Metroid Prime 2: EchoesNintendo GameCube
52002Metroid Fusion Gameboy Advance
62021Metroid DreadNintendo Switch
72010Metroid: Other MNintendo Wii
82017Metroid: Samus ReturnsNintendo 3DS
92009Metroid Prime Trilogy Nintendo Wii
102004Metroid: Zero MissionGameboy Advance
111994Super MetroidSNES
121992Metroid 2: The Return of SamusSNES
132007Metroid Prime Pinball Nintendo DS
142016Metroid Prime: Federation ForceNintendo 3DS
152005Metroid (NES Classic) Gameboy Advance

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