[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & company founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]
Yo, it’s Simon C. at the place to be, the GameDiscoverCo newsletter, see? Peace out to… *examines self, carefully* Oh, right, I’m a follically challenged British white guy in my 40s, probably shouldn’t try any hiphop moves in the near - or even far - future.
Anyhow, plenty of things to discuss again today. Let’s start with some interesting data and insight on a Nintendo Switch game that’s definitely been outperforming the average on launch…
Arise: A Simple Story - a Switch success how?
We’ve talked quite a bit recently about how the Nintendo Switch has a lot of players, but a very crowded store that’s difficult to break through on. There’s headwinds - 30+ games releasing every week nowadays - and a lot of extreme discounting.
So, imagine our interest when Ivan from publisher Untold Tales turned up in the GameDiscoverCo Plus Discord and said his game Arise: A Simple Story - previously available on PC, Xbox and PlayStation - had sold 10,000 units on Switch in just 8 days.
We went and looked at the eShop chart we custom compile for Plus subscribers - and yep, it’s doing WAY above average in the U.S.:
Anyhow, the next question from us was, uh, how and why? Arise isn’t a particularly well known franchise, and the Steam release has done OK, but not great. Here’s what we think re: its success:
- Visually impressive game that reminds of much-played Switch titles: the title was described by Ivan as “a dreamy-looking puzzle platformer with quirky time manipulation mechanics”, and its 8/10 review from NintendoLife has a user comment that echoes what I think: “If you enjoy the visuals and themes in this game, I cannot recommend Sky: Children of Light enough.” Sky is a secret juggernaut on Switch, and Arise being good & a bit redolent of it surely helps?
- Launching with a 50% discount & QubicGames promo: Ivan notes of the large launch discount from $19.99: “At $9.99 we're in a good position, as most of the newly released games are at >$17.99. Plus we get featured in two categories: Recent Releases, and Discounted Games from the get go.” Untold Tales worked with colleagues at Polish publisher QubicGames for an additional 10% off if you own specific games from that publisher, another major visibility boost.
- Game is touching & critically acclaimed: To be honest, there are plenty of critically acclaimed titles that don’t sell. But a Metascore of 81 on Switch is pleasant. And it’s a game that people connect with - TouchArcade says: “The emotional journey is outstanding, and unlike a lot of other narrative-focused games, Arise packs in a lot of gameplay to go with the story.”
Looking at comments on the YouTube trailer for the game hosted by Nintendo, you can see some more indications of points #1 (“If you like games like Journey, Abzu, etc. that tell a story with no dialogue, please. I beg you to get this game!”), and #3 (“This is why I love the Switch - it's not about the graphics, it's about the story that makes a great game.”)
Concluding, I love Ivan’s tl;dr ‘back of a napkin’ summary of how it all went down: “Decision to go with $9.99 at 50% off + additional 10% off with QubicGames titles (18 games) + cute dreamy looks with simple but sticky gameplay easily seen on marketing assets + trailer on Nintendo YT channel + review on NintendoLife + Metascore 80 and placement in the top carousel on Metacritic.com/game/switch -> good first several days of sales -> getting in the charts -> more sales.”
Of course, you may also be - meh, 10,000 units in 8 days isn’t that spectacular, $-wise, especially at $10 or less per unit. A lot will depend on the ‘long tail’ for the game, and how it does with further discounts.
But it’s still one of the top releases for its week on Switch in the U.S. at least (Europe seems slower?) And we’re going to tell you about good results on Switch, even if they’re not money hat-sized. Good job, Ivan & the devs…
[We’re GameDiscoverCo, an agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? We run the newsletter you’re reading, and provide consulting services for publishers, funds, and other smart game industry folks.]