Nintendo’s Super Star isn’t the bright and shiny New Pokémon Snap or even the juggernaut that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. No, well into the Nintendo Switch’s lifespan in the year 2021, it’s Mario Kart 8 that takes the lead.
Mario Kart is still one of Nintendo’s biggest sellers. It was the second-highest selling game of Nintendo’s last quarter, which included two new releases, New Pokémon Snap, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and Miitopia. It even beat out the insanely popular, and much fresher, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Seven years in, Mario Kart 8’s staying power is a bit of a marvel. First released on the Wii U in 2014, the racing game still gets marketing love from Nintendo and continues to hold on to its spots on “ Best of the Switch” lists. It’s a mainstay on Kotaku’s roundup of the best games for the Switch. It’s sold 37 million copies in total.
But seven-year-old game is a seven-year-old game. It hasn’t gotten a substantial update in years, instead settling for integrations with whatever Nintendo has thought up that year (Labo kits, Switch online, the Toy-Con motorbike). The last DLC for Mario Kart 8 came out on the Wii U, which was included in the repackaged Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch. Nintendo also continues to advertise it from time to time despite its age, with commercials and mentions running on official material well into late 2020.
It’s clear that Mario Kart doesn’t need big changes to keep its momentum going. After all, the series is a Nintendo and Mario Metaverse classic. It’s familiar, easy to play with others, and is just as fun to play with your grandparents and it is with younger siblings. It’s found the sweet spot of Nintendo co-op play. Shorter (and more fun) than Mario Party while still more accessible than Smash, which was actually nowhere to be found in Nintendo earnings breakdown.
And so, it finds itself nipping at the New Pokémon Snap’s heels, which sold a not unimpressive 2 million units its first quarter on the market. That number is actually probably even higher since its Japanese sales aren’t included as the game is sold by The Pokémon Company in Japan. But Mario Kart still eked out 1.7 million. The year-old Animal Crossing: New Horizons only managed 1.3 million in sales, getting run over by Mario Golf: Super Rush, which also just came out this quarter.
The only thing that can stop Mario Kart now is a well-aimed Koopa shell.