[GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley presents Xbox Live Arcade charts and leaderboard data, for an idea of which games were hits -- and which weren't -- during the month of January.]
January was considerably more quiet than November and December, with just four new releases:ilomilo, Spare Parts, Zeit2 and Breach.
We've looked at the Leaderboard statistics to get an idea of each title's performance, hoping to provide a capsule view of the digital landscape -- and hopefully to divine some conclusions about key success factors in the digital space.
Ilo, Meet Milo
January's four new releases present a stark contrast to the 11 released during December. One would think January would be a better time to release games -- the press is back in motion and few retail games emerge in the lull that follows the busy holiday season.
The first release was SouthEnd Interactive's ilomilo, though technically it was released in "secret" a month prior through to download codes offered on an official website.
In its first week, it added 20,323 new players to the Leaderboards, with a total of 48,311 at the end of the month. Including the players from December, 64,463 are now playing the game:
The next title was Zeit2, developed by Brightside Games and published by Ubisoft. The game was one of the Top 20 in Microsoft's Dream-Build-Play competition of 2008.
Ultimately, however, the title didn't appear to do so well. Only 1,318 people were added to the Leaderboards in the first week, for a total of 2,248 for the month, a very soft launch. It didn't get a whole lot of promotion from Ubisoft, much like last year's Bloody Good Time. It was also released on the PC via Steam, where it may have fared a bit better.
EA Bright Light's kid-friendly platformer Spare Parts fared better than Zeit2, though it wasn't a big seller right out of the gate. The game added 10,390 players in its first week and half that for its second, for a total of 15,212 players for the month. It's received a low Metacritic rating at 53, with overly-simple gameplay the most common complaint among critics.
The final release was Atomic Games' Breach, another attempt to take on the first person shooter genre on Xbox Live Arcade. However, it doesn't seem like it's off to a very good start -- only 15,660 players were added in its first week.
For comparison's sake, Blacklight: Tango Down added 49,688 players in its first week and currently sits above 127,000 players. Monday Night Combat, which was promoted during the Summer of Arcade, added 83,607 in its first week. It seems to have beaten Quake Arena Arcade, which had a very low Leaderboard count.
The game currently has a middling 56 score on Metacritc; critical consensus seems to hold it's a fairly bland execution of the shooter genre.
Deals Of The Week
There were plenty of deals during January, as Microsoft took a rather unique approach: It offered a regular weekly deal based on a theme -- "Zombies," for example -- and simultaneously held sales based on individual publishers like Electronic Arts, Activision and Take-Two.
Both Zombie Apocalypse and RISK Factions were on sale during January -- games that have been on sale for what seems like one week out of every month. It seems to work, but also really dilutes the idea of a "sale". RISK is actually on sale again in February, a little silly considering it's a game that does so well otherwise. There are 350 other XBLA titles that could do with a weekly deal -- when is it SNK Playmore's turn?
The Activision deal week did bring up some older titles that haven't seen much light for a while -- Golf: Tee It Up, Arkadian Warriors and Assault Heroes are still worth players' time.
What is interesting is what wasn't on the weekly deals list -- anything in regards to Xbox 360 retail "Games On Demand". Activision added two of its Xbox Originals to the list, but what of games like COD4, Crash Of The Titans and Prototype? We've yet to see sales for these kinds of games on Xbox Live.
We're currently following DLC for two games: Pinball FX 2 and Trials HD. Pinball FX 2 continues to do very well for itself, still adding 14,069 players for the standard tables, and about the same for the Marvel tables. Even extra tables, like the original and Nightmare Mansion ones, continue to do well, even if a selection of those players were those who bought it the first time around.
Trials HD continued to do well as expected, with their second DLC raking up another 25,676 players, currently sitting at 123,514 players total.
Not So Dead
Unfortunately, not a single "Top 20" list was released for January, so we're completely unable to check for other games that we can't follow. Still, we have other info from the period: The free games, Doritos Crash Course and Harm's Way continue to be downloaded quite a bit -- Crash Course is now over 2,000,000 players strong, and Harm's Way is currently at 442,528 in comparison.
Pac-Man CE DX added another 20,000 players in the month, now sitting at 110,090 -- far better than the original fared. Trials HD, Castle Crashers and Limbo remain huge sellers each week.
Get This Party Started!
February seems to be stacked with releases -- for one, Double Fine's Stacking, which we won't be able to follow due to the lack of Leaderboards. But we will see the beginning of the new House Party promotion -- Torchlight, Hard Corps Uprising, Beyond Good and Evil and more, so we have quite the lineup to look forward to.
Last year's Block Party started a little later, in February, but that didn't stop Toy Soldiers and Perfect Dark doing very well. We'll see if these games benefit from the promotion, too.
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