DS

Initial GTA, MadWorld Sales Numbers Disappointing

by Jon Lindemann - April 19, 2009, 11:32 pm PDT
Total comments: 46 Source: Gamasutra, MTV

Chinatown Wars and MadWorld sold less than hoped for this March. Are they dead in the water or will they benefit from long-term sales?

The March releases of Sega's MadWorld on Wii and Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on DS were eagerly anticipated, but not just because of the high quality and "mature" nature of each title. The industry at large was also very interested to see how two high-quality M-Rated third-party games would fare on Nintendo systems, and whether or not sales data would support the growing perception that Wii and DS audiences are generally uninterested in M-Rated fare. The March sales for both Chinatown Wars and MadWorld have arrived, and they are certainly not encouraging.

MadWorld was released on March 10, finishing the month at 66,000 copies sold. Meanwhile, Chinatown Wars was released on March 17 and sold 89,000 copies through month's end. The numbers for MadWorld, while disappointing, are not entirely shocking considering the game's niche genre and single-player gameplay on a console known for multiplayer excellence. Chinatown's modest numbers are very surprising, however, given the game's incredibly popular IP and the massive installed userbase of the Nintendo DS. Furthermore, while MadWorld received positive reviews, Rockstar's title is currently the highest-rated DS game on Metacritic and is widely hailed as a system showpiece.

Industry analysts have weighed in on the topic, with Cowen Group's Doug Creutz stating that "either the demographics are more challenging than we thought, or core gamers did not view the title as an essential purchase due to the nature of the platform." Creutz did mention that the title was a good experiment for Rockstar, and that over time the game would no doubt be "marginally" profitable.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of these sales results is the future apprehension that third-parties will likely have about bringing mature content to Nintendo platforms. Creutz himself provided an example of this sentiment, declaring that "[t]he disappointing first month sales reinforce our view that achieving meaningful success on Nintendo platforms remains a very difficult proposition for third party publishers."

Meanwhile, Nintendo and Sega themselves look at things in a much more positive light. Sega has described MadWorld's sales as "very encouraging," while Nintendo – undoubtedly based on the "evergreen" nature of titles like Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii - believes that first-month sales of games on their systems don't always tell the whole story. On MTV's Multiplayer blog, Nintendo Vice President of Licensing Steve Singer pointed to Call of Duty 4 on the DS, which went on to sell 500,000 copies despite moving only 36,000 units in its first month. He refused to reveal what Nintendo's sales projections were for Chinatown Wars, but reiterated that many Nintendo titles have "non-traditional sales curves" that result in sales growing over time, instead of the initial spike and drop-off that most games experience.

When pressed about Nintendo's minimal advertising of Chinatown Wars when compared to Microsoft's extensive campaign for Rockstar's other recent GTA release, the Xbox Live downloadable expansion "The Lost & The Damned" for Grand Theft Auto IV, Singer responded that they worked with Rockstar on marketing, communications, and advertising, but preferred to keep the arrangement private.

Talkback

GoldenPhoenixApril 20, 2009

GTA: CW is outpacing the first PSP GTA. End.

Given the PSP's install base then vs. the DS's install base now, that's no achievement.

GoldenPhoenixApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

Given the PSP's install base then vs. the DS's install base now, that's no achievement.

Um, considering when it came out on PSP the system had hardly anything in the way of compelling software (Which DS has a TON of, a lot of which just came out recently) and that it still sold around 2million units (around 1.5 million for Vice City) in NA. Perhaps I'm crazy but I'd consider that an achievement if it even gets near the paces of something like that. Unless of course if people consider selling 1 million plus to be no achievement anymore which I think GTA: CW will end up selling. I have no doubt the budget was larger for Liberty City and Vice for PSP as well.  Not to mention these stories show a complete lack of insight in how DS and Wii software sell and if it is mentioned it is buried. The same crap was being stirred up with Call of Duty World at War and guess what? Both versions have done very well since then.

GTA: CW has been out for only two weeks as well (which I cannot find mentioned ANYWHERE in this article). Madworld on the other hand, we'll see what it can do. All we know is that Sega is happy with the current sales. It is such a strange game that has already gotten criticized for being way too short.

Let's let GoNintendo have their "DS and Wii are doomed because GTA: CW sold 89k in two weeks and Madworld has sold less". It is a non-story especially with GTA: CW which hasn't even gotten a full month yet!


KDR_11kApril 20, 2009

Not just budget but also the fact that GTACTW is a 2D GTA and GTA only really became good in 3D.

EnnerApril 20, 2009

Oi, I liked my time with GTA 2. However, that game could've used some WSAD and mouse aiming. Firefights were such a chore!

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 20, 2009

GTA will have legs. I guarantee that game will be at least a million seller, if not more.

MadWorld's extremely short length deterred myself and a number of my friends from actually buying the game. I was able to get my fill with a rental and I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's an unfortunate story, but at that short of a length, you can't reasonably expect most educated gamers to buy it day 1.

I believe a price drop to $30 will do wonders for MadWorld.

LJKKJLCM9April 20, 2009

Quote from: Mr.

MadWorld's extremely short length deterred myself and a number of my friends from actually buying the game. I was able to get my fill with a rental and I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's an unfortunate story, but at that short of a length, you can't reasonably expect most educated gamers to buy it day 1.

I believe a price drop to $30 will do wonders for MadWorld.

Fully agree with this post.  I have every intention of getting MadWorld, but everytime I read about it, I heard about the incredibly short length of the game.  This immediately made me decided to wait until it is dropped down in price.  I'm not paying 50 bucks for that short of a game, when there are 40+ hour DS games for 30 bucks.

THE JACKEL

AVApril 20, 2009

i think it will pick up during summer. I probably would have bought some games if i wasn't so busy with college and low on cash. i bought pikmin but that was more because i traded in some other stuff.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 20, 2009

Sales on a Nintendo system are a marathon, not a dash.

SpinnzillaApril 20, 2009

I waiting for the price to drop on Madworld too.  Summer's almost here and the money I saved from my summer/winter jobs is running tight. 

I'm not disparaging the DS by any means.  But telling me that a game of GTA's stature selling only 89,000 in two weeks on a system with a US install base of 35 million isn't a disappointment is "moving the goalposts" a bit, don't you think?  Of course it will have legs, but I'm sure everybody thought it would shift more units at launch.  GameStop has already said that Chinatown Wars' sales received a boost from the release of the Nintendo DSi, so we'll see what shakes out from the April NPD numbers.

Also GP, when Nintendo alerts the press that they have people that are specifically available to talk about this very issue, I'd say that's far from "non-news".  Gamestop also went out of its way to specifically comment on the issue.  That makes it news in my book.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 20, 2009

I think the problem is more with the gaming media as whole placing far too much emphasis on first week/month sales. They don't really mean much.

Just because there are alot of DS owners it doesn't mean that the game should've necessarily sold better. Just like there are alot of DS owners, there's alot of DS software. In this tough economic climate, people are budgeting their cash, and GTA might not really be at the top of anyone's list right now. Just like Iwata said, if there was another more enticing product available at the time, it may be easy to overlook the 2nd or 3rd game on the list.

With most games, I would 100% agree Nick.  But with GTA, it's such a known brand that it should have been a slam-dunk out the gate.  I really think that these sales numbers are more the result of people simply not being aware of its release more than a lack of demand.  I can easily see people walking into stores in three months and saying, "Holy crap, there's a GTA game for DS?  I didn't even know that!" and picking it up.

Did anybody see any TV commercials or magazine ads for Chinatown Wars?  The only ad I ever saw was one that was sent to my email (no doubt because of my Club Nintendo membership).

EasyCureApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

With most games, I would 100% agree Nick.  But with GTA, it's such a known brand that it should have been a slam-dunk out the gate.  I really think that these sales numbers are more the result of people simply not being aware of its release more than a lack of demand.  I can easily see people walking into stores in three months and saying, "Holy crap, there's a GTA game for DS?  I didn't even know that!" and picking it up.

Did anybody see any TV commercials or magazine ads for Chinatown Wars?  The only ad I ever saw was one that was sent to my email (no doubt because of my Club Nintendo membership).

I don't read magazines so no, but the TV ads run constantly when i watch tv (mostly comedy central in the background while i do some stuff around the house). Hell it even got a mention on South Park.

PlugabugzApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

With most games, I would 100% agree Nick.  But with GTA, it's such a known brand that it should have been a slam-dunk out the gate.  I really think that these sales numbers are more the result of people simply not being aware of its release more than a lack of demand.  I can easily see people walking into stores in three months and saying, "Holy crap, there's a GTA game for DS?  I didn't even know that!" and picking it up.

Did anybody see any TV commercials or magazine ads for Chinatown Wars?  The only ad I ever saw was one that was sent to my email (no doubt because of my Club Nintendo membership).

I have seen several over here.

Then consider me baffled.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

With most games, I would 100% agree Nick.  But with GTA, it's such a known brand that it should have been a slam-dunk out the gate.  I really think that these sales numbers are more the result of people simply not being aware of its release more than a lack of demand.  I can easily see people walking into stores in three months and saying, "Holy crap, there's a GTA game for DS?  I didn't even know that!" and picking it up.

Did anybody see any TV commercials or magazine ads for Chinatown Wars?  The only ad I ever saw was one that was sent to my email (no doubt because of my Club Nintendo membership).

I saw a lot of GTA CW TV ads and the email advert but a big reason that GTA and Madworld sold less is because RE5 came out in the same month and that sold a lot on both platforms. This is the GTA chinatown wars advertisement I saw the most.

Also I think April and May will have a bump in sales since a lot of people get income tax refunds in those months.

Since when do 360/PS3 sales affect DS sales?  From what I've seen they're pretty much mutually exclusive.

That's a great commercial, BTW.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusApril 20, 2009

In a bad economy people will have fewer money to spend, the so called hardcore gamer/mainstream gamer demographic(which GTA targets) typically has more than one console with an addition to a portable console(s). Q1 '09 was packed with many big releases so people could also be spreading out their purchases. I'm sure that the economy has affect many gamers spending habits on games, I admit that I want a bunch of games but my spending on video games is restricted so I am waiting for deals and such. Today I actually bought a copy of Rune Factory Frontier since Amazon has it on sale for 30 which is awesome since the game was released last month.

I don't understand why people are thinking that it's the end of the world just because the first month sales were disappointing to a bunch of analysts.  First month sales =/= to life time sales. GTA on PSP sold on par with GTA Chinatown when it was released and in the long run GTA sold really well on PSP.

PlugabugzApril 20, 2009

What makes it ultra baffling, Lord Lindy, is that some places are selling it NEW for £17.99 when some DS games can go for double that (AHEM ANIMAL CROSSING AHEM).

GoldenPhoenixApril 20, 2009

I still think that people are forgetting that DS has been flooded with various high quality titles. While GTA is a big name it is hardly being released in a down period for DS.

Quote:

Also GP, when Nintendo alerts the press that they have people that are specifically available to talk about this very issue, I'd say that's far from "non-news".  Gamestop also went out of its way to specifically comment on the issue.  That makes it news in my book.

Also once again I state if it is moving the goal post why wasn't a huge deal with the GTA games for PSP which went on to sell 2million plus and 1 million plus? Nintendo has people commenting on it because the gaming media is making a huge deal over it. The gaming media has lost most of its sense for rational behavior, especially when it comes to Wii/DS sales. 

broodwarsApril 20, 2009

I'm a little surprised at the sales for Chinatown Wars, but it's on the DS so it'll have legs.  Madworld on the other hand, doesn't surprise me at all.  It's a $29.99 6-hour wack-a-thon being sold for $49.99, and in this economy that just doesn't cut it.  To give a direct example, one of the biggest complaints last year against Mirror's Edge was that the game was a 6-8 hour game sold for $60.  The people who did buy it largely felt cheated, and that sentiment spread throughout the internet as it always does and probably really hurt the game (if sales numbers are any indication).  However, I recently purchased the game New at $20, and I'm perfectly fine with the experience because I feel like the entertainment the game provided was worth the amount I spent.

If SEGA would cut the price on Madworld, I think they could recoup their losses and gamers would come away feeling their money was well-spent.  As it is, I don't see this game having legs.  It's just too niche and honestly...not all that great to begin with.  I know there's this sentiment in the community that every unique game deserves to sell a million copies just because it is.  But sometimes unique games fail to sell because they didn't earn the sell.

UltimatePartyBearApril 20, 2009

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Also once again I state if it is moving the goal post why wasn't a huge deal with the GTA games for PSP which went on to sell 2million plus and 1 million plus?

That was a big deal.  I remember lots of laughing at how badly those games did on PSP and how Rockstar had to port them to PS2 to make their money back.

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 20, 2009

I thought real gamers replayed their games regardless of "length."

broodwarsApril 20, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

I thought real gamers replayed their games regardless of "length."

All 66,000 of them already bought the game (including me, by the way, in case you forgot).  To the general public, Madworld is not worth its price right now.

Ian SaneApril 20, 2009

Madworld is not the sort of game that should ever be expected to sell huge numbers.  It wouldn't have sold big on the other consoles either or on the PS2 last gen.  It's just not that kind of big blockbuster hit kind of game.  It stands out more on the Wii because of a lack of mature core games, but it isn't a big title.  Combine that with an iffy price point and there you go.

For GTA... well I didn't even know it had come out.  But I don't see videogame ads on TV very much at all these days.  I just don't seem to watch the shows that videogames are advertised during.  When I used to watch wrestling I used to see game ads all the time.  So I can't say if it was marketed enough or not.  But I didn't really see big hype for the title on the internet.  With the really big games you just KNOW when the game is coming out, even if you're not specifically paying attention to it.  There's buzz on game forums and such.  I haven't seen that really with GTA: Chinatown Wars.

I wonder if part of it is how the title was revealed.  When it was "debuted" all we had was a logo.  No screenshots at all.  There was nothing to start the buzz aside from the GTA name.  Don't forget it was also debuted at last year's E3, which went over like a fart in church with the internet core gamer audience.  Instead of starting the hype train it just lumped GTA: Chinatown Wars with Wii Music and Animal Crossing as part of "that crappy E3".

I think there's also a portable vs. console game thing going here.  It's like GTA IV is the REAL GTA and there's that natural assumption that portables are given half-assed spinoffs.  That's not necessarily the case here but, with American third party publishers, there's a mostly fair assumption that only suckers get the portable cash-ins.  Portable versions of American franchises usually just rely on a popular name to attract sales.  If you got burned by that too many times you might see GTA for the DS and assume "Ah, it's not going to be that good.  It'll just be scaled down and half-assed."

I think it may also be the GTA is VERY overexposed.  You had three console games last gen, a GBA game, the two Stories games (so a PS2 owner might own FIVE GTA games for one console) plus GTA IV's recent release.  I think we're at a point where it isn't essential to own EVERY GTA game and a gamer with that attitude is more likely going to cut out the portable games first.

With mature games though it really relies a lot of Nintendo's example.  The reason their systems are considered "kiddie" is entirely because Nintendo puts in no real effort to providing mature games aside from a token title here and there.  The first party really sets the tone.  On the flipside the Xbox has never really been seen as a valid option for kids because despite a few token efforts of MS, the first party lineup is all targetted at an older audience and the image follows it.

KDR_11kApril 20, 2009

Did GTA Advance do any better? What about GTA 1 and 2? GTA wasn't big until it went 3D, this regression could have had a serious impact on the appeal of the game.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusApril 20, 2009

There are a few games on the DS that I will probably by eventually, I'm just not in the mood now.

Final Fantasy Tactics
Fire Emblem
Grand Theft Auto

The reason I'm not in the mood?  I don't know, but these are all franchise games so I have a pretty good idea what to expect from them.

Then again maybe I'll never buy them.  I didn't like FFT on the GBA, haven't completed a FE game since the first one that was ported here and have never completed a GTA game (although I came close on the original for the PSX but the last level was so glitchy I couldn't finish it).  I'm most interested in GTA of those 3 since it's a return to the overhead style that I prefer to the sprawling 3D games.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Rize

I'm most interested in GTA of those 3 since it's a return to the overhead style that I prefer to the sprawling 3D games.

Don't be fooled, it is the same as the sprawling 3D games just with a slightly different viewpoint.

UrkelApril 20, 2009

GTA will continue to sell, but sales would've been a bit more impressive at launch if Rockstar had done a better job at convincing everyone that it was actually a quality game. Everyone assumed it was just going to be a half-assed quick cash in. Returning to an overhead view didn't help, either.

GoldenPhoenixApril 20, 2009

Quote from: UltimatePartyBear

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Also once again I state if it is moving the goal post why wasn't a huge deal with the GTA games for PSP which went on to sell 2million plus and 1 million plus?

That was a big deal.  I remember lots of laughing at how badly those games did on PSP and how Rockstar had to port them to PS2 to make their money back.

Yeah I remember those too, but still the first game sold EXTREMELY well over the long hall along with the sequel. Maybe not as good as its console counterparts, then again this is a different market, something I think people should also consider as well. GTA is a popular CONSOLE series. As we know from the success of DS and various hits the market is very different in regards to the type of games.

StogiApril 20, 2009

I have to agree with GP on this one. Just because it's not flying off the shelves doesn't mean it won't sell well over the long run. If Rockstar decides to not make any more titles for Nintendo because of the initial sales numbers, then good riddance.

GoldenPhoenixApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Kashogi

I have to agree with GP on this one. Just because it's not flying off the shelves doesn't mean it won't sell well over the long run. If Rockstar decides to not make any more titles for Nintendo because of the initial sales numbers, then good riddance.

Like I said though I think the whole thing is blown out of proportion, heck I'd even go as far to say that maybe all of this is a free way to market the game. I'm curious to find out what people think the target audience is for this? Would it necessarily be the GTAIV owners? They are pretty different in how they work. I wouldn't be surprised if many GTAIV fans thought this was a step down for the series because of the visuals.

Regardless if it follows the PSP titles in sales patterns it will do perfectly fine business for Rockstar in the end. Maybe not a ton out of the gate but consistent sales over, perhaps, years.

Hell I'm not even saying that it WON'T sell.  I'm just playing devil's advocate here.  Obviously the fact that this game didn't do big numbers out of the gate indicates that something is out of whack.  My assumption is that it'll have legs, but who knows?  As for the media blowing this out of proportion, they've giving the game free PR and basically TELLING the public that they should buy this game by claiming it's not selling as expected.  The media isn't always the big, bad anti-Nintendo crusader that people think it is.

GoldenPhoenixApril 21, 2009

Quote:

The media isn't always the big, bad anti-Nintendo crusader that people think it is.

Yeah they just create articles every day about how Wii is doomed now and that no one is buying "X" game at the moment. How the fad is ending, and how the world is going to crash down around the Wii because PS3 is outselling it by 3k in Japan. I still want an explanation how it not selling out of the gate is out of whack? That is a pretty common sales pattern for DS and Wii games, nothing really new there.

Luigi DudeApril 21, 2009

Quote from: Ian

Madworld is not the sort of game that should ever be expected to sell huge numbers.  It wouldn't have sold big on the other consoles either or on the PS2 last gen.  It's just not that kind of big blockbuster hit kind of game.

And you would be correct.  Madworld is pretty much the spiritual successor to God Hand for the PS2.  God Hand came out on the PS2 when it had an even bigger user base then the Wii has now, and yet, it did even worse then Madworld did it's first month.

TJ SpykeApril 21, 2009

The difference is that MadWorld is a good game (sorry to any God Hand fans).

I wouldn't have felt cheated by Mirror's Edge at $60.  It's considerably longer than four hours (took me about twice that), and the experience is consistently fresh because the gameplay is based on level designs that are always changing to present new challenges.

My reluctance to buy MadWorld is based on a combination of its brevity and what I perceive to be simple gameplay that doesn't change much over the course of the game.  Given that it's a simple beat 'em up, we should perhaps be glad that Platinum didn't stretch it out any longer.  But that kind of game just isn't worth full price to me these days.

Also, games whose appeal is based primarily on aesthetics are almost always rentals for me.

StogiApril 21, 2009

"Also, games whose appeal is based primarily on aesthetics are almost always rentals for me."

Like Okami, right?

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 21, 2009

RIGHT.

NovaQApril 21, 2009

Quote from: TJ

The difference is that MadWorld is a good game (sorry to any God Hand fans).

No worries - I have a feeling you're not going to get many responses to that "low-blow"...

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Yeah they just create articles every day about how Wii is doomed now and that no one is buying "X" game at the moment. How the fad is ending, and how the world is going to crash down around the Wii because PS3 is outselling it by 3k in Japan. I still want an explanation how it not selling out of the gate is out of whack? That is a pretty common sales pattern for DS and Wii games, nothing really new there.

Change is news.  The Wii sells the doors off for three years straight, and then suddenly the PS3 tops Japan for six weeks in a row or whatever, and that's not news?  Iwata says that the Wii is "at its weakest point in Japan" and that's not news?

What, is anything remotely critical of Nintendo not news to you?

StogiApril 21, 2009

I remember when the GC topped charts.....just saying.

This is non-news.

KDR_11kApril 21, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

Obviously the fact that this game didn't do big numbers out of the gate indicates that something is out of whack.

Yeah, the thing out of whack is the sales pattern on "casual" consoles (spread out over a long time as opposed to frontloaded, selling big one month and being forgotten the next) but we've known about that for a long time already.

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 21, 2009

Yeah, but that only applies to sorta-good-enough casual games that the casuals would buy.

non-casual super mature artsy niche games like MadWorld haven't performed as such.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 21, 2009

Quote from: NovaQ

Quote from: TJ

The difference is that MadWorld is a good game (sorry to any God Hand fans).

No worries - I have a feeling you're not going to get many responses to that "low-blow"...

Don't ever diss God Hand. Not much to look at but it makes me want to go buy a PS2 just so I can play it non-stop. It deserves a sequel that's not coming.

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement