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XBLA's annual 'Summer of Arcade' promotion may be losing its steam

One the pinnacle of digital console sales, Microsoft's annual "Summer of Arcade" promotion for its Xbox Live Arcade platform seems to be losing its prestige, as evidenced in our analysis for August's XBLA sales.

Ryan Langley, Blogger

September 5, 2012

5 Min Read

Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines August 2012's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes, with charts and Leaderboard data showing the performance of titles like Dust: An Elysian Tail, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Deadlight. Microsoft's big annual Summer of Arcade promotion for 2012 is over now, and it may have been its weakest yet, with most games seeing poor reviews and some not even hitting 10,000 players in their first week! This month we see the second half of the promotion and give our thoughts, as well as discuss the next big XBLA title: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. We've pieced together Leaderboard statistics and Metacritic ratings from every title released in August where available, which allows us to determine how new games have sold and how well they were reviewed. We also look at several older titles that continue to do well, as well as specific downloadable content for games that support it.

Toward The Deadlight

August's first release continued the Summer of Arcade promotion with Deadlight -- a side-scrolling action-adventure title involving zombies. It scored an unfavorable Metacritic of 69. It was, however, the second best selling title for the month, adding a hefty 53,637 players in the first week, but quickly dropping in downloads in subsequent weeks for a total of 86,740 players for the month. xblanewaug2012.png

A Merging of Problems

The next title appeared quite promising -- Hybrid is a unique third-person shooter which involves flying around, an ambitious worldwide metagame, and a drastically different control scheme. Developed by 5th Cell, the people behind the popular Scribblenauts on other platforms, Hybrid was a significant change in design for the team. The game's first day on sale was a difficult one -- the servers were overloaded and causing numerous issues, to the point where 5th Cell ripped the game down from the marketplace for several hours. The day-one issues, along with a lukewarm critical reception, has made the game sell rather poorly -- only 12,168 players were added in the first week, and 22,972 players for the whole month. By our count, behind Wreckateer, this has been the second worst-selling title we've seen in the Summer of Arcade.

A Bit Dusty

The final title of the Summer of Arcade was Dust: An Elysian Tail, a very ambitious side-scrolling action RPG with an exceptional art style. Dust was developed almost entirely by Dean Dodrill, and it was both the indie darling of the promotion and the best-reviewed title for the month. Dust added 32,280 players in the first week, and 44,747 players for the month. This is less than what Fez was able to accomplish back in April, but still considered quite good given Dust's small team and $5 higher price point. Also released this week was a surprise launch of Expendables 2, which came out of the blue with very little fanfare. The game has a Metacritic rating of 38, one of the worst we've seen for an Xbox Live Arcade title.


After the Summer of Arcade, usually the place for the heavy hitters, we see Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment hit it out of the park with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the long-awaited recreation of the popular PC shooter, now also available on consoles. In its first week it added 145,709 players -- a great amount, and it comes as no surprise. It actually added more players than Minecraft did in the same week, which we haven't seen happen for a while. The other release this week was for Jojo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver, a digital version of the classic 1998 fighting title. Jojo's was sold for 1600 Microsoft Points ($20), which is rare. Considering Jojo's relative obscurity compared to other fighting games, I assume Capcom took the higher price in the hopes that they'd sell to a dedicated crowd who will buy it regardless of price. An interesting proposition! Unfortunately we were unable to follow the game's Leaderboards -- much like every other fighting game out there, they don't tally single player game scores, and instead count the more limited ranked online match Leaderboards. xbladlcaug2012.png

Clack Clack Clack

Nothing much new on the downloadable content front - Pinball FX 2's DLC is continuing to fall ever slowly, while Trials HD continues to be stagnant, even with the sequel now available. xblaregaug2012.png

Blocked Out

Minecraft is still being a beast - 617,908 new players in the month of August, and the game is now way over 4 million players. Word is that Minecraft has now hit over 3.6 million purchased on Xbox Live Arcade, so it seems a lot of people are playing the game with couch co-op mode. Last month's Summer of Arcade titles, Wreckateer and Tony Hawk HD, have fallen off dramatically in sales since release. Wreckateer hasn't even sold 15,000 copies at this point. Quantum Conundrum has slowed quite a bit, even more so than Zuma's Revenge and Dungeon Fighter which came out the same week, despite it being the title critics went to first. One game that we don't have on this list that's selling very well is The Walking Dead; since it has no Leaderboards, we can't track it like we do the other XBLA titles.

When September Comes

Next month is looking packed with titles -- we already know of nine titles scheduled for release, including Walking Dead Part 3, Jet Set Radio HD, Mark of the Ninja and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. If it's anything like previous Septembers we'll see some great highs and astounding lows across sales and Metacritic ratings. See you again next month!

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