FIFA 18 is out in stores now, and players are logging into EA's massively popular soccer title. There's also a heightened interest this year in the Switch version of FIFA 18, particularly in regards to how it sold. While we don't have the exact numbers for the game's sales, we have an idea of how many players are using FIFA 18's Ultimate Team mode and how many of those players are on the Switch. And though it's not an exact science, the numbers so far don't look too good for the Nintendo Switch version.
A quick search of the PS4 version's FUT transfer listings—the auction house where players are bought and sold—reveals 6,194,450 entries as of this morning. However, the Switch version specifically shows only 27,255 listings. That's a mighty small fraction of players on the Switch trading in Ultimate Team. Especially considering Ultimate Team is FIFA's most popular mode by far.
Meaningless stat of the day: FIFA 18 on Switch accounted for 1% of all UK physical copies sold. Just narrowly beaten by the Xbox 360 edition— Christopher Dring (@Chris_Dring) October 2, 2017
While we still don't have the exact numbers, GamesIndustry.biz's Christopher Dring reports that FIFA 18 accounted for only one percent of physical copies of FIFA 18 units sold in the UK, a country where FIFA 18 is extremely popular. However, the exact nature of that one percent has come under some debate.
Reports are coming in from UK customers that they're having trouble finding copies of the game at local game stores or on Amazon.co.uk. Some customers in the UK are suggesting that EA under shipped units of the Switch version under lower expectations. There's no concrete data to back this claim other than observational reports of shortages. In addition, we have no data on download numbers.
Amazon is actually sold out of FIFA Switch and GAME is doing 'one person customer'— Christopher Dring (@Chris_Dring) October 2, 2017
Still, by any metric, 27,000 transfer listings is an incredibly low number for Ultimate Team.
One potential reason for the low number of Ultimate Team listings from Switch players is the fact that the Switch version was billed more as a portable version of FIFA 18. Meaning FIFA 18 on the Switch is more for local multiplayer and on-the-go play rather than the full FIFA experience. This is backed up by the fact that FIFA 18 on the Switch shipped without features found in other consoles like "The Journey" mode. Compare this with NBA 2K18 that shipped feature complete on the Nintendo Switch.
It's a popular belief that EA is using FIFA 18 on the Switch as a litmus test for how well the company's games could perform on the Nintendo console. Despite telling investors earlier this year that EA is "bullish" on the Nintendo console, reports and interviews suggest that the console agnostic EA is taking a wait-and-see approach to the Switch. This could be a result of the fact that EA published several of its biggest games like Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U, a console that can rightly be called a dud.
However, the Switch is so far performing very well with reports of shortages in retailers, and Nintendo focusing on producing more units to keep up with demand.
We've reached out to EA Sports for a comment regarding Switch sales for FIFA 18, and will update the story with any devemlopments.