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Posts Tagged ‘Mario Kart’

As has become the monthly norm around here, we’re diving into the latest NPD numbers and reading the tea leaves so you don’t have to!  Liquid Architecture is not afraid to be servicey.the-ides-of-march

The March report shows a 17% decline in overall sales from March of last year, which brings the total sales number for Q1 ’09 back down to earth.  But nobody’s jumping out a window just yet.  Easter fell in March of last year, so that and the release of Smash Bros. Brawl contributed to a better-than-average showing.  I’m actually not surprised to hear that there’s a direct correlation between the Christian feast of the Resurrection and an uptick in game sales.  I can actually remember quite a few Easter baskets that included a videogame… and for some reason they tended be a GameBoy game.  I guess handheld systems are more appropriate for springtime?

If anything, the March report shows why this industry is so healthy, in spite of one down month.  This month’s Top 10 shows tremendous diversity among systems, with a top 5 comprised of two 360 games, and one each for the PS3, DS, and Wii:

1. Resident Evil 5 – Xbox 360 – Capcom – 938K
2. Pokemon Platinum – DS – Nintendo – 805K
3. Halo Wars – Xbox 360 – Microsoft – 639K
4. Resident Evil 5 – PS3 – Capcom – 585K
5. Wii Fit w/ balance board – Wii – Nintendo – 541K
6. MLB ’09 The Show – PS3 – Sony – 305K
7. Killzone 2 – PS3 – Sony – 296K
8. Wii Play w/ remote – Wii – Nintendo – 281K
9. Mario Kart w/ wheel – Wii – Nintendo – 278K
10. Major League Baseball 2K9 – Xbox 360 – Take-Two – 205K

There’s something to be said for diversity of audience served as well.  The very kid-friendly Pokemon Platinum settled firmly into #2, among decidely hardcore titles like RE5, Halo Wars and Killzone 2. Both Major Leage Baseball games found their audience of sports fans, rounding out Nintendo’s Holy Trinity of top sellers.

The real eyebrow raiser for March is what’s NOT on the list. The fact that GTA: Chinatown Wars sold less then 100,000 units represents a rare sales misfire from Rockstar.  It released to solid enthusiast press reviews, but it didn’t translate to the same impressive sales numbers as the previous GTA handheld installments on the PSP.  This is a pretty clear indication of just how many of those millions of DS owners actually pay attention to hardcore gamer press.

I’ll be interested to see how this weak showing figures in to Rockstar’s future plans for Nintendo hardware.  Does this mean the “experiment” Strass Zelnick talked up in March was a failure?  Does their existing IP really appeal to Nintendo’s audience?  Personally, I’d love to see them give the Bully universe another look, possibly as a Wii or DS exclusive.  It really brought together everything that made GTA such a joy to play, but stripped out a lot of the edgier content that can be a turnoff for so many.  Certainly worth a look if you missed it the first time, especially alongside the superb Bully Game Club podcast series from Rebel FM.Bully Wii

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I’ve wanted to cover the NPD Group report for quite some time, but the monthly reports are pretty matter-of-fact and there are a ton of qualified sites on the blogroll that can deliver that quick update every month.  The report they issued today on the year’s top sellers, however, actually holds a few surprises and raises some interesting questions.

Xbox 360 – No real surprises here.  GTA IV had a really big launch, and with the Xbox 360’s sizable installed base, you knew a lot of those copies went to Xbox owners.  I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to say that this year’s Madden probably would’ve been in the #2 spot if the Xbox 360 version were a whole lot better than the one on PlayStation 3.  Keep in mind, last year’s Madden ran at double the framrate on the 360 than on the PS3, and we saw a huge gulf in sales as a result.  Army of Two was critically panned, but still moved enough units to scratch the top 5.  So maybe we’re seeing a more casual gamer migration onto the 360?  They’re the ones that don’t pay attention to reviews, after all.

PlayStation 3 – I love the Metal Gear series as much as anyone else, but even I’m a bit surprised to see just how many PS3 owners scooped up MGS4. Keep in mind, these charts aren’t tracking special editions or bundled SKUs – so ALL those copies that sold as part of the spring 80 gb PS3/Dual Shock 3 package don’t count.  We’re seeing console exclusives go the way of the dodo, but if MGS4 is any indication, they still move hardware and plenty of standalone copies.  Microsoft hasn’t been able to tee up many solid exclusives throughout the 360’s lifespan thus far, and Too Human is getting lackluster reviews all over the enthusiast press.

Wii – Believe it or not, there are a couple of bombshells here, or rather it’s what’s NOT here.  Guitar Hero III is the only third party title to crack the top 5 on the Wii, and this is the first GH game available to many Wii-owning casual gamers.  When a critical darling like Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox can’t raise a flag on your system, something’s not quite right.

Don’t get me wrong – these are 4 terrific Nintendo-produced games, and every Wii owner should have them.  But when you see them all stacked up like this, it makes it really easy to see where some of the more vocal third party developers are coming from when they complain about the not-quite-level playing field on the Wii.  Couldn’t they space all these titles out a little bit more?  Or maybe cede at least one quarter out of each year to their third party partners?

Wii Play launched a few months after the Wii, and it still outsold AAA titles like Madden on the Wii.  What will all these casual gamers play when Nintendo can’t get another Mario game out?

Another big reveal here is the Wii audience’s appetite for peripherals.  4 out of these 5 come with a controller or accessory in the box, and Wii Fit and Guitar Hero III are both way outside of your average price point for a game.

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