[Sister console digital download site GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley examines PlayStation Network's debuts and successes during March 2011, using leaderboard and chart data to analyze their sales and downloads.]
This March was a good month for games on the PlayStation Network, with the release of PixelJunk Shooter 2 from acclaimed developer Q-Games, the release of Swarm from HotHead Games, Behaviour Interactive's Ghostbusters: Sanctum Of Slime, and many other titles. From sequels to new intellectual property, which decided to stand out?
Here we do our best to try and make sense of the PlayStation Store, and how well games seem to be selling on it - to help developers understand the ecosystem they're getting into:
A Shooter SequelPixelJunk Shooter 2 is the first “true” sequel Q-Games have worked on – previously iterating on Racer and Monsters with Second Lap and Monsters Deluxe on PSP. This was the first game release for the month of March.
The original Shooter was released in December 2009, and over 4 weeks added 49,399 players to the Leaderboards. The sequel however has only managed 21,864 players in 5 weeks -- less than half that figure.
The game has received good reviews, claiming that it's better than the original, so seeing lower sales numbers is disappointing. We’ve seen sequels on digital distribution systems not do well time and time again, and this is a good example of it.
The second release for the month was Beatshapers' Stardrone, but only in Europe. For the month of March it only added 1,754 players, so let's hope the American release in April helps out those sales.
The next release was Arc System Works' Hard Corps: Uprising, released a month after its Xbox Live Arcade equivalent. For the month it added 21,982 players to its Leaderboards, which is roughly on par with the XBLA version. Not a huge amount, but it should continue to sell over the next few months.
Fire Hose Games' Slam Bolt Scrappers was released alongside it, but has no Leaderboards we could follow.
Does Bustin’ Feel Good?
The next set of releases were Ghostbusters, Swarm and Battle: Los Angeles, with similar Leaderboard results to the Xbox Live Arcade versions. Despite the lowest Metacritic score for the month, Ghostbusters has over 10,000 players on its Leaderboards, while Hothead Games' Swarm added only 4,239 players for the month.
That's disappointing for Hothead, who have previously done well with the Penny Arcade Adventures and DeathSpank games. We were unable to unearth numbers for Battle LA, as it does not have any Leaderboards.
The final week of the month was quite hectic – Free Realms, Moon Diver, Rush’n Attack: Ex-Patriot, Chime Super Deluxe and the original Sonic The Hedgehog. Unfortunately we could not check any of their Leaderboards, either they were not working or are limited to the top 1,000 players.
In terms of Metacritic rating, only Chime Super Deluxe did reasonably well with a score of 78. Two of them didn’t even get reviewed – the free-to-play MMO Free Realms, and the original Sonic The Hedgehog. Odd that a free-to-play MMO couldn't even garner a review despite being free.
Ides Of March
There were a lot of deals on during March, many we couldn’t follow, but two we did get a peek at – Castle Crashers and Dead Nation, two titles which were winners in the PSN Player’s Choice Awards and was discounted because of it. Castle Crashers added 31,626 players in March -- more than 10,000 more than it did in February.
Dead Nation we didn’t follow last month, however the game has added 41,844 new players since the end of January. During January it added 15,000 players, so it did get a good bump thanks to the sale.
April could be an interesting month for a lot of parties – Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes, Outland, and Dungeon Hunter: Alliance could all prove to be excellent additions to the marketplace, and hopefully do well outside of a promotion on both the XBLA and PSN.