Thursday, March 8, 2012

February 2012 NPD Results

Did you know February 2012 is over? I'm serious. No lies. No joke. It ended over a week ago. As such on the early part of each month we get the United States sale results of the previous month. I remember a time when we got clear cut numbers. Now we're lucky to get scraps. Regardless, here are the results for February 2012 as taken from NeoFAQs.

4- week month; January retail reporting period 1/29/12 through 2/25/12

01. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)** Activision Blizzzard
02. Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, 360)** Square Enix Inc.
03. UFC Undisputed 3 (360, PS3) THQ
04. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (360, PS3, PC) Electronic Arts
05. Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360, PS3) Ubisoft
06. NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PC, PS2) Take 2 Interactive
07. Soul Calibur V (360, PS3)** Namco Bandai Games
08. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)** Bethesda Softworks
09. Twisted Metal 2012 (PS3) Sony - 221K
10. Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)** Electronic Arts

**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)

Xbox 360 - 426K (-20.4%)
PlayStation 3 - 360K (-11%) (PR Math by NeoFAQs)
Nintendo 3DS - 262K
Nintendo Wii - 228K (-50%)
PlayStation Vita - 218K (PR Math by NeoFAQs)
Nintendo DS - 135K

Unfortunately NPD has for the past half year or so combined SKUs, so we don't know how titles with only one SKU (exclusives in layman's terms) fared. I wish I could say I'm surprised that Resident Evil: Revelations didn't chart, but there were literally no advertisements to be found here. There were Operation Raccoon City ads, and that game wasn't coming out until a month or or so later. Tell me how that makes sense. Are third parties doing another self-fulfilling prophecy again?

In other news, Final Fantasy XIII-2 sold less than half the first month sales of Final Fantasy XIII. It is safe to call it a bomb yet? Then we have SoulCalibur V which also did poorly all things considered. On the positive side (which is increasingly hard to find when it comes to sales) Just Dance 3 on Wii remains the best-selling single SKU yet again.


Matt Sainsbury said...

I think you somewhat overestimate the value of advertising. I see this happen a lot. People blame poor sales on a lack of advertising as though a few TV ads will make a few thousand people suddenly interested in a game.

Advertising (in the sense that people outside of the advertising/ media industry think of it - TV and Print), accounts for perhaps 10 per cent of an overall marketing strategy, if that, in terms of both time, investment, and reward. It helps, sure, but it isn't a cure for cancer either and in most cases, it isn't going to magically make a product popular.

The real problem for Resident Evil? It's a horror game (a niche genre) on a console that hasn't sold all that many units yet. Of course it's not going to chart as well as games released on the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 - their install base is ten times as big.

As for Final Fantasy XIII-2; I don't know if I'd call it a bomb. I don't know what Square Enix's sales expectations were, but I suspect they wouldn't be as high as a "normal" Final Fantasy game. I think you'll find X-2 didn't sell as well as X, for instance.

It also likely didn't cost as much to develop, given that it was using many of the same assets and engine as Final Fantasy XIII. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume it was a profitable game, so for that reason I wouldn't consider it a failure at all.

Plus it's a really awesome game. :D

Unknown said...

Sales are pitiful for the big Final Fantasy games. XIII-2's sales were unremarkable in Japan, and the bitter taste of Final Fantasy XIII has damaged the brand heavily. Sales are NOT good. That's great you enjoyed XIII-2. I did, too. Final Fantasy X-2 came out on a single platform. XIII-2 came out on two and sold less. That's the rub.

As for advertising, here in the US Capcom didn't even let anyone but message board dwellers know about Revelations, so yes, advertising factors in and matters more than you say. The first rule about selling your game is letting your desired audience know it exists. Capcom did not do that at all. I'm perplexed at you saying that advertising doesn't matter but only slightly. Tbqh, I skimmed your post so correct my mistakes.

Matt Sainsbury said...

Sales don't necessarily matter. It's profitability that's important, and I still suspect that XIII-2 was profitable. That game is there as fan service (just as X-2 was for fans of X, which was also a single console release), and it was always going to sell worse.

The question is "did it turn over a profit for Square Enix?" Given it didn't cost as much to make, and there's a DLC strategy in place that is going to appeal to many who bought the game, and I would bet my house it was a profitable game.

But you're right. The two games have damaged Square Enix's Final Fantasy brand, thanks to the massive amount of negative press around both. Be interesting to see how XV fares.

As to the advertising thing. If you speak to any advertising or brand manager, they will all tell you exactly the same thing: TV advertising is incredibly expensive for what you get in return. To buy a TV ad, you need to firstly produce it, but then you need to pay to have it aired. TV networks charge based on how many people watch a time slot. The problem is, the ratio of interested: not interested viewers is something like 1:1,000 through to 1:10,000, depending on the product. It's very inefficient to pay for 10,000 viewers when you're only going to interest one of them.

As for advertising in magazines... specialist gaming magazines would work relatively well, but Capcom opted to do a Web campaign via AdSense instead.

You're right that the goal of marketing is to let the audience know about a game. That's why there were demos for Revelations in both The Mercenaries 3D and on the eShop. That's why there are videos on the eShop. That's why Capcom spent money getting journalists to play and review the game. All of that is marketing, and, again according to marketing theory and research, far more effective and targeted than TV ads.

More than happy to explain any advertising or marketing questions you might have, Phillip :) It does boil down to the fact that a game needs to be an absolute blockbuster before a TV ad will help it sell even more copies.