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Nintendo: Chinatown Wars Sales 'In Line' With Expectations

Nintendo joins the debate over the performance of GTA: Chinatown Wars with the claim that sales so far are "in line" with expectations, and will remain steady over the long term.
Although Rockstar's GTA: Chinatown Wars initial unit sales were significantly below projections, Nintendo says the game's performance is consistent with expectations based on other major titles on the DS. Nintendo of America VP of licensing Steve Singer told consumer website MTV Multiplayer that Chinatown Wars is "in line with AAA titles that have come to our platform like Spore or Lego Star Wars." "Those games went on to have very different life-to-date sales numbers," Singer says -- for example, Call of Duty 4 on DS recorded sales of only 36,000 units in its first month, but went on to sell more than half a million copies. Chinatown Wars received one of the highest overall Metacritic scores of any title ever on the DS, and the Grand Theft Auto IP is one of the most valuable in the industry. PSP incarnations of the franchise have sold around 1 million units -- by contrast, Chinatown Wars sold 86,000 units in its first 18 days on sale in the U.S. Analysts had projected significantly better sales; Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter had predicted around 450,000 units, and even EEDAR's more modest projection of 200,000 turned out to be too generous. Singer says that the slow start to sales is "the result of having only a limited number of M-rated games on the platform." He adds that word of mouth would support the game's performance on DS, noting that the platform has seen many "non-traditional sales curve" for its games. The title has become something of an avatar for how M-rated titles can be expected to perform on the DS, and Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz says it's not necessarily the game's fault: "We view the title's performance as more indicative of the difficulties inherent in the Nintendo market for third party products and not due to any misexecution on Take-Two's part," the analyst said recently. Although the game has so far only appeared in one NPD chart in the U.S., it has been a regular feature in the UK charts since launch, this week moving up one place back into the top 10.

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