Friday, March 14, 2008

February NPD Sales Figures: Time to gloat

Sales figures now up.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=10191438&postcount=1

"Hardware

PlayStation 2 351.8K
PlayStation 3 280.8K
PlayStation Portable 243.1K
Xbox 360 254.6K
Nintendo DS 587.6K
Wii 432K

Top 10 SW
Top-Selling VG Software - February 2008
RELEASE TOTAL U.S. RANK
TITLE PUBLISHER DATE UNITS

360 CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE* ACTIVISION 7-Nov 296.2K 1
360 DEVIL MAY CRY 4* CAPCOM USA 8-Feb 295.2K 2
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE NINTENDO OF AMERICA 7-Feb 289.7K 3
PS3 DEVIL MAY CRY 4* CAPCOM USA 8-Feb 233.5K 4
WII GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK* ACTIVISION 7-Oct 222.9K 5
NDS MARIO AND SONIC: OLYMPIC GAMES SEGA OF AMERICA 8-Jan 205.6K 6
360 LOST ODYSSEY MICROSOFT 8-Feb 203.6K 7
360 TUROK TOUCHSTONE 8-Jan 197.7K 8
PS2 GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK* ACTIVISION 7-Oct 183.8K 9
360 ROCK BAND* MTV GAMES/ELECTRONIC ARTS 7-Nov 161.8K 10"

What can I say? I called it.

Devil May Cry 4 on the Xbox 360 outsells the Playstation 3 version in the United States by a good margin. Let it never be said that Xbox gamers only play First Person Shooters. I always believed that that idea was a fallacy being spread around by Sony fanboys who didn't want to lose any more exclusives to the Playstation 3. Xbox players enjoy games from a variety of genres. That's now a fact and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. DMC4 is quite a unique game compared to its Xbox brethren but despite that it overcame the odds, and the game sold very well. The strong established base of the Xbox 360 practically guaranteed its incredible sales, and these numbers do tell the story. Capcom absolutely made the right decision by going multiplatform with the series; they're reaching more gamers and establishing the series as a key franchise for their COMPANY. It's clear that the DMC games were never made for any specific hardware company, it was made for the success of Capcom and Capcom alone, and it represents their amazing pedigree in the action game genre. Capcom is now reaping the benefits, and takes the bragging rights, taking the number 2 spot on the Xbox 360 platform.

Lost Odyssey sells 200,000+ copies on its first month in the United States. I've posted before that it only needed to sell at least 100,000 copies to be a successful JRPG. That said, it has already broken the curse for non-Final-Fantasy JRPGs. It shows that great game design coupled with excellent marketing can sell a game in a genre that, over the course of time, has become less popular in the United States. Lost Odyssey sold 200,000 despite lackluster, ill-informed game reviews from game journalists who thought it wasn't part of their job to finish games before posting reviews. No wonder gamers didn't pay any attention to the 7 and below scores that the game got from review outlets. 200,000 is an incredible figure for a new JRPG series from, technically, a no-name developer (Mistwalker/Feel-Plus) that's just starting out, using a development kit that they had challenges in making use of. The gamers have spoken, Lost Odyssey is a great game, and no casual-skilled game reviewers could deter them from knowing that fact. Gamers these days are sharper now; they can see ill-informed reviews for what they are and rely mostly on gamer feedback/reviews from the gaming community at large.

Lost Odyssey's sales also benefitted from a television commercial which used an unusual soundtrack; instead of opting for music from the game, the developers allowed Microsoft to pick a soundtrack that's recognizable in US pop culture. Granted, perhaps the ad didn't work when showed to audiences outside the United States (based on comments I've read from youtube and other forums for users in Europe or Asia, some of them wished that Nobuo Uematsu's music was used instead), but in the US, the advertisement might have resounded more culturally with the audience there, and I think Microsoft should take heed of the fact that this approach really works. It's interesting to note that the same approach was done with Gears of War, and we all know that that game was very successful in the marketplace as well (despite being a very violent, mature rated game). I think this goes to prove one thing...if you market your game as a piece of great entertainment (over marketing it traditionally, straightforward, as a game), it can resound well with your audience and can even win over gamers who normally wouldn't buy into the genre of the game that you're selling.

Mistwalker originally decided to develop Lost Odyssey as a JRPG focused for the gamers in the United States. That decision is now paying off for them in spades. Mistwalker now has a PROFITABLE FRANCHISE with a rapidly rising fanbase in the United States, and Microsoft won't be letting them go anytime soon! A lot of ill-informed gamers will tell you that the game failed in Japan and that's the end of it. Don't let them fool you....Lost Odyssey is a game collaborated upon by Microsoft and Mistwalker not necessarily to take the Japanese market alone. Lost Odyssey is their bid for product diversity on the Xbox 360. They're trying their best to appeal outside of the first-person shooter market, and lose the stereotype (that has been branded upon them by gamers and media outlets) that their console is only for first person shooter games. The overwhelmingly positive response from gamers everywhere on forums and user review sections clearly shows that Mistwalker has succeeded in appealing to the American audience (arguably, the most important market for video games in the entire world, today), and it establishes that they understand the market well enough to make a game that feels Japanese but has broader appeal. Now that these figures just got released, Square-Enix must be shaking in their boots. They're making Final Fantasy XIII (five of them!) without the talent or know-how of Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu, and now that those two guys have proven that THEY'VE STILL GOT IT, the pressure on Square-Enix is at an all-time high. How can Square-Enix succeed in the West without the talents in Mistwalker? From an artistic standpoint, I think Final Fantasy XIII is doomed to mediocrity. Of course, it will likely sell well because it's Final Fantasy; but I think it will usher the beginning of Square-Enix's downward slide into obscurity; it's their pride before the fall.

Other observations:

Again, the Xbox 360, relative to other next-generation game consoles, continues its utter dominance in software sales, taking 5 spots on the top 10 NPD sales, more than the Playstation 3 (with one game) and the Nintendo Wii (with only two games).

Call of Duty 4 continues its never-ending reign in the United States, taking the top spot. I think a lot of people are buying Xbox 360s to play this game in particular. It just goes to show how great a game it is. I recently got to try it (bought it from a discount store, scratched; it worked for a few levels but eventually the disc was unreadable) and it really does deserve all the positive praise that it has been getting. I already ordered a brand new copy; the only reason why I haven't been able to get it is because the game is always out of stock!

I'm surprised Rock Band isn't any higher on that list. Actually I would have bought the game; it's already available here in the Philippines, but it's REGION-LOCKED. Since my console is Asian I can't play the US version that's being sold in stores here. That said, it's probably a factor why Rock Band isn't selling better than it should be; then again, it's probably difficult to produce all the instruments that come with each set. The demand's likely high, it's just that EA isn't able to fulfill it. (EA should just use the money that they were supposed to use to buy Take-Two Interactive to improve their supply for Rock Band....I guess that's never going to happen...)


Sakaguchi must be real happy about this news!

5 comments:

  1. That does raise eyebrows doesn't it but what concerns me most is how Turok, as mediocre a shooter as could possibly come, sold nearly as much as LO. Calling Xbox 360 a shooter console is going too far given how many diverse games there are on the console but I think it's a bit too early to say Xbox 360 user base is not shooter biased because sadly, it is. It may change in the future with more games like this.

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  2. By the way I agree with your comment that MS is trying its best to diversify its gaming library. Just looking at its upcoming games, Too Human, Fable 2, Alan Wake, Halo Wars, Emd War, Cry On most of them aren't shooters.

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  3. I have nothing against shooter games; I just posted the comment regarding shooters because the Xbox 360 does need more diversity in its game lineup, and with Lost Odyssey it's clear that Microsoft is working in that direction. That's good for MS so that they attract even more gamers to the platform.

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  4. Also, whenever I talk about Lost Odyssey it's always relative to JRPG sales in North America for games that aren't Final Fantasy. If you notice, generally speaking, games in the JRPG genre don't really sell well in the US, so, for a game like Lost Odyssey to come along and get 200,000 in sales is pretty monumental. It shows that the interest in the genre is still there and if coupled with great marketing, can sell quite well in the North American marketplace.

    To be honest, I can't really comment on Turok if it's a good game or a mediocre one. All I know is that it is a shooter. Again, I don't hate shooters; in fact, the next game in the pipeline for me is Call of Duty 4 and I'm eagerly anticipating that game. I don't want to bash a game that I haven't played; I just don't think that's fair. I don't base my opinions on reviews alone. I think gamers buy games based on feedback on forums and not just reviews. Maybe there was good feedback on forums for Turok. I can't really say because I don't really follow the posts for that game. I do know that the Turok series did have some kind of following before (it's an N64 game, right? I'm not sure) so that must be a factor for its sales.

    Again, for a relatively unknown game (or, for a game that isn't part of a known franchise) like Lost Odyssey to come in at number 7 for its first month in the market, that speaks volumes. I don't really want to judge the Xbox userbase as shooter-centric...I think they like shooters but I disagree that they only play shooters. Xbox live arcade downloads, sales of DMC4, and RPGs like Oblivion and Mass Effect clearly disprove this idea; it's just an idea that Sony fanboys love trolling around in the hopes that it will be believed by other gamers and make them think it's better to buy a PS3 because the game lineup is more diverse on PS3. With DMC4 and LO's success, it's clear that this false idea being spread around about the Xbox and its fanbase is no longer true.

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  5. Hmm, actually let's keep in mind that Turok has been out two weeks longer than Lost Odyssey in the February NPD figures, and has dropped much lower in the charts so it looks like LO will significantly outsell Turok in the end.

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