Normally what you’re about to read here would be a news story with editorial or something, but it’s not really being picked up by very many people and I’m not really ready to write a whole lot else.
Basically this is a follow-up to the story on why Square Enix is restructuring and just got rid of CEO Yoichi Wada. Everyone picked up the story of them explaining “low” sales of titles in the North American marketplace as the reason they expect massive losses. Not many people however seem to be going over exactly what those expectations were.
A little while ago a PDF went out detailing all that, but very few people seem to be willing to translate the Japanese document. So far I’ve only seen the story picked up on NeoGAF and a couple small news websites so I’d like to use this blog to highlight it. The people who did the translation figured out what Square Enix’s sales targets were for Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, and Sleeping Dogs. Those targets were sort of insane if you ask me.
Tomb Raider: 5 to 6 million copies (it shipped 3.4 million in a month).*
Hitman Absolution: 4.5 to 5 million (it did 3.6 million in roughly four months)
Sleeping Dogs: 2 to 2.5 million (it did 1.75 million in around seven months)
Now let’s look at the sales histories for the Tomb Raider and Hitman franchises. According to this chart from a Square Enix slide, a Tomb Raider game hasn’t hit five million copies life-to-date since The Last Revelation back in 1999. The franchise basically took a nosedive after this that the soft reboot of Legend, Anniverssary, and Underworld couldn’t turn around. The fact that the full reboot has been able to blow past Underworld’s LTD numbers in just a month is outstanding, but expecting it to match the 90’s entries in the series in that amount of time is insane. The new Tomb Raider will probably hit those numbers eventually, but it would never have done so in a month.
Square Enix having similar expectations for Hitman is even crazier. The most successful Hitman game — Silent Assassin back in 2002, did just shy of 4 million units. Both succeeding games did around 2 million. I don’t know why Square Enix wanted 5 million from Absolution. What it’s done already puts it near Silent Assassin and well above Contracts and Blood Money.
This has happened a bit too much in the console video games industry. Didn’t the studio that made Protoype 2 get closed down because the game “only” sold 2 million copies? I’m still wondering what’s happened with Dead Space 3, which I remember Visceral Games saying it needed to sell 5 million to make a profit.
For comparison, 5 million is the kind of number you see from a Halo game, a Zelda game, or a Gears of War game. 5 million copies is not a reasonable expectation unless your game is already among one of the most popular franchises in the market right now.
What I can’t understand is why publishers can’t just budget their games to be profitable at 1 or 2 million units? What keeps making them believe that they can hit five or six with a franchise that has recently never come close to that number? Why does almost EVERYONE releasing retail console games think they need to be AAA blockbusters?
*Those 3.5 million copies for Tomb Raider only include the console versions. Apparently the PC version did pretty good as well, so the real numbers could already be as much as a million higher than what you see here.
- Basically illustrating what happened to Nintendo – http://bit.ly/YSQNcO If you don’t read Castle Vidcons now, you should start.
- Take a look at Clang on Steam Greenlight: http://t.co/PrpGRw8H3i
- This is one of the most in-depth and well-researched articles on Nintendo I’ve ever read: http://t.co/t4wgnhuX3t
- Polygon feature on video game voice actors: http://t.co/Qj4WM3AI8n
- Why did no one tell me the Japanese cover for Gex looked so gangsta? http://imgur.com/dCXtKdg
- They made a sequel to Groove Coaster?! – http://bit.ly/14Lt4zE
- Perry Bible Fellowship updated. http://flip.it/Vlc1w
- Oh man, Steam Workshop just opened up for Torchlight II: http://t.co/z05F7KVAk7