This Nintendo Franchise Doesn’t Sell, And Miyamoto Has A Theory

Pikmin 4 is out tomorrow, July 21, and from the sound of it, the Switch game is pretty dope. Despite this, the series has only had four mainline games since the first entry launched on the GameCube in 2001. The games don’t perform as well as other first-party Nintendo games, with the best-selling entry, Pikmin 3 Deluxe, selling a little over two million copies, compared to say, Super Mario Odyssey’s 25.76 million units. Why is this? Well, series creator and Nintendo big wig Shigeru Miyamoto has a few theories.

In an interview from Nintendo’s “Ask A Developer” series, Miyamoto t noted to other company developers that he’s always wondered why the series hasn’t “exploded more in sales” despite so many people enjoying them. Then, he considered whether it’s because the real-time strategy series might be too difficult for some players. However, the interviewer also proposed that Pikmin might be emotionally fraught for some players as the titular little plant guys you throw at your problems in these games die frequently and in droves. Though Miyamoto concedes this is part of the stakes that make Pikmin appealing in the first place.

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“I get that people find it more difficult when death is a factor,” Miyamoto said. “But I think the franchise’s strength lies in its relationship with mortality. If something is irreversible, you need to figure out a way to prevent undesired things from happening. To try to prevent Pikmin from dying, you need to practice ‘Dandori’ (a Japanese term that means ‘to think about planning and efficiency in advance to get things done smoothly’). To me, that’s what makes this game unique. I think people find Pikmin difficult for two reasons: the controls and the depth of gameplay. I spent a long time mulling over how we could convey these points as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘difficult.’”

Despite this concern, Nintendo isn’t considering watering down the experience for Pikmin 4. Miyamoto said that the series while the series isiterative, Nintendo always tries to maintain what made the first game compelling.

“We were talking about how we want as many people as possible to play Pikmin 4, but if it’s not Pikmin-like enough, we won’t meet the expectations of those who’ve enjoyed the series until now,” he said “The first game provided a deeper challenge, while the second game was broader in terms of content, and we went back to something closer to the first one in Pikmin 3. But after thinking about it, I realized that we could do both. We could retain the depth of gameplay that makes Pikmin so interesting, while providing the functional support to address the challenges around controls.”

Outside of the main games, Niantic also released a mobile AR game called Pikmin Bloom, which the company is still supporting even after its recent layoffs.

Every Franchise Xbox Now Owns After Buying Activision

An image collage shows different games Microsoft now owns.

Image: Xbox / Activision / King / Bethesda / Kotaku

On October 13, Microsoft completed its nearly two-year-long process of consuming Activision Blizzard King. And while it will take months and years for Xbox and all the parties involved to sort everything out and start bringing past Activision Blizzard games to Game Pass, for now, we can tally up everything Microsoft seemingly now owns.

To put together this list I dug around a few different places and double-checked some franchises to confirm who owns what. In some cases I wasn’t able to figure out a decisive answer, so I left those out. I also avoided adding every single game these companies have published, as some were one-offs that have never been touched since and that don’t feel like a “franchise.” Finally, just because Activision or other companies previously published an X-Men or ESPN-branded game doesn’t mean the publisher owns that brand or even that specific game. So those aren’t on here, either.

With all that said, here’s my best shot at assessing every gaming franchise Microsoft now owns (probably).


  • 3D Ultra Pinball
  • Call of Duty
  • Call to Power
  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Dark Reign
  • Diablo
  • Extreme PaintBrawl
  • Front Page Sports Baseball
  • Gabriel Knight
  • Geometry Wars
  • Guitar Hero
  • Gun
  • Hearthstone
  • Heavy Gear
  • Heretic
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • Hexen
  • Interstate ‘76
  • King’s Quest
  • Laura Bow Mystery Series
  • Lost Vikings, The
  • Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX
  • Overwatch
  • Phantasmagoria
  • Pitfall
  • Police Quest
  • Prototype
  • Quest for Glory
  • SWAT
  • Singularity
  • Skylanders
  • Soldier of Fortune
  • Space Quest
  • Spyro
  • StarCraft
  • Tenchu (only the games released before Activision sold the rights to From Software in 2004)
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
  • True Crime
  • Ultimate Soccer Manager
  • Warcraft
  • World of Warcraft
  • Zork


  • AlphaBetty Saga
  • Blossom Blast Saga
  • Bubble Saga
  • Bubble Witch Saga
  • Candy Crush Saga
  • Diamond Digger Saga
  • Farm Heroes Saga
  • Hoop de Loop Saga
  • Papa Pear Saga
  • Paradise Bay
  • Pepper Panic Saga
  • Pet Rescue Saga
  • Pyramid Solitaire Saga
  • Rebel Riders
  • Scrubby Dubby Saga
  • Shuffle Cats

Bethesda / Zenimax

  • Commander Keen
  • Deathloop
  • Dishonored
  • Doom
  • Elder Scrolls
  • Fallout
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Prey
  • Quake
  • Rage
  • Redfall
  • Starfield
  • The Evil Within
  • Wolfenstein

Xbox / Microsoft

  • Age of Empires
  • Age of Mythology
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Bard’s Tale, The
  • Battletoads
  • Blinx: The Time Sweeper
  • Blue Dragon
  • Conker
  • Costume Quest
  • Crackdown
  • Crimson Skies
  • Fable
  • Forza
  • Gears of War
  • Halo
  • Killer Instinct
  • Kinect Sports
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Midtown Madness
  • Minecraft
  • Perfect Dark
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Project Gotham Racing
  • Psychonauts
  • R.C. Pro-Am
  • Rise of Nations
  • Sabreman
  • State of Decay
  • Thunder (Hydro Thunder, Arctic Thunder, etc.)
  • Viva Pinata
  • Wasteland
  • Zoo Tycoon

And consider this fun challenge while you take it all in: Try not to think about how sad it is that so few corporations now own so much of our pop culture. Let me tell you, I failed! But at least Call of Duty will be free on Game Pass in the future, right?


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