Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Surprising Sales: Games that Outperformed Expectations

As long-time readers know all too well, too many times on SuperPhillip Central we've talked about games that were overlooked, sold poorly, and didn't do well. Let's change that and focus on the games that did the opposite. These titles are ones that no one saw coming, sold relatively well, and put some money in the pockets of their publishers and developers. These are the types of feel-good success stories that make following the video game industry all the more enjoyable.

Demon's Souls (PS3)

Sony passed on publishing this game, so a combination of From Software and Atlus did the job instead. What to me is an effort in frustration with balls-to-the-wall challenging gameplay and an unrelenting and hardcore difficulty, Demon's Souls found a niche among PlayStation 3 owners yearning for a tight and cohesive experience. I consider these fine folk gluttons for punishment, but whatever floats their metaphorical boat, right? The game went on to sell under a million worldwide, but for niche companies like From Software and Atlus, this game was purely money in the bank. A tremendous surprise indeed.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360)

Past Batman games have been anything but major events. We've seen many developers try and try again. They all failed to varying degrees. That was until Rocksteady Games got hold of the license and created an incredible Metroidvania that not only wowed critics (including yours truly), but it also sold very, very well. This million-seller shows off what makes Batman so delicious as a character. The awesome villains, the rivalry with the Joker, the detective skills at work, and the mythos behind the cape and cowl. There's no question that come this October that Arkham City will no doubt light the world on fire in sales.

Catherine (PS3, 360)

The titular character of this game is such a tease. As Vincent, you're thrust into a love-triangle of devious proportions in this action-adventure game with clever puzzle elements. This decidedly Japanese-styled game seemed to be niche in the making, and perhaps it could be considered that. What I do know, however, is that Catherine is Atlus's best-selling game so far. This is a conclusion I could have never seen coming. From the anime art style to the questionable sexual situations, this game had "niche" steaming from its very core. Just goes to show you that you can't judge a book by its cover.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Nintendo of America opted out of releasing Xenoblade Chronicles in North America much to the chagrin of loyal fans and JRPG lovers alike. In Europe and Japan, however, the game was released to moderate success. The party and family system as some like to refer to it as suddenly had one of the better RPGs of this generation, and it was literally out-of-stock in Europe. Tracking down a copy is currently an impossibility. Those who do possess a copy of the game are too busy partaking in the game's profusion of side quests, venturing through wide open worlds, and battling monstrous enemies to even care. Now if only NoA would get off their collective rear ends and localize the game for North American gamers...

Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)

In Japan there was no doubt that Monster Hunter would sell, regardless of the console. Even on the Wii which is known for not being overly kind to most third-party games a Monster Hunter game could do well. And it did. Now the West, like the menacing monsters of the game, was a different beast entirely. The formerly PlayStation-only franchise jumped ship to Nintendo, and Nintendo aggressively marketed the game in North America and Europe. What followed were approximately 800,000 units sold on both continents alone. A Wii third-party game success story? Now that's more like it, guys.

Kinect Sports (360)

Most of us didn't really know how Kinect would impact the market as much as it has. It seems to be cutting into the Wii's market. Who knows, who cares? The point is that without a capable killer-app to sell the peripheral to the masses, the Kinect was DOA. Fortunately, Rare put together an impressive sports package with Kinect Sports featuring events like volleyball, table tennis, and bowling, for starters. Who knew that Microsoft of all companies could pump out a friendly title for the casual market? Certainly not this blogger. Whether you're playing solo or have friends over for a party, Kinect Sports is one of the few software success stories on the Kinect. Plus it's a great way to get a wonderful workout!

Just Dance and Just Dance 2 (Wii)

In the past, dancing games and simulations were relegated to titles like Dance Dance Revolution which required a mat to play properly. Now with the advent of motion controls and more specifically the Wii remote, now we can dance without watching where we step. Ubisoft's breakout Just Dance franchise is stepping up to hit all three major platforms this go around, and it wouldn't have been possible without the unforseen success of series. Could you have imagined that waving your Wii remote around all willy-nilly would catch on so well? Well, to be fair, stranger things in this industry have happened...


This could be the start of a new series of articles here at SuperPhillip Central. There's many more games that had little hype and ultimately had great success. Do you have some that I intentionally left out? (We gotta have something for future articles, right?) Let me and everyone else know in our comments section.

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