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The latest Gamasutra-exclusive OTX game purchase study examines games poised to resist the recession's pinch, from Modern Warfare 2 to New Super Mario Bros -- plus the role loyalty plays in sequel purchases.

Nick Williams, Blogger

November 4, 2009

3 Min Read

[In the latest tracking study provided to Gamasutra by OTX's GamePlan Insights, analyst Nick Williams examines the games that look poised to resist the recession's impact on the consumer, from Modern Warfare 2 to New Super Mario Bros. and more -- plus the role loyalty plays in sequel purchases.] Looking ahead to the remainder of 2009, there are four primary console releases that are primed to battle with already released titles for holiday market share. At the top of OTX's GamePlan Insights October tracking charts, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 retains its expected position as the most anticipated upcoming title. But Assassin's Creed 2, New Super Mario Bros, and Left 4 Dead 2 are also recording strong metrics across the board. One of these measures featured in the tracking charts is the "Recession-Proof Index", a brand new measure designed to show the resiliency of titles against heavy competition and declines in consumer spending. This index specifically looks at titles that are most frequently chosen as the first, second, or third purchase choice. As demonstrated by this month's charts, titles that perform well in this measure are ones that are "genre leaders" or own a specific corner of the market. OTX's GamePlan tracking survey involves polling 1,000 U.S. gamers each week, and the charts that begin this month's analysis list October's top already-released games from a purchase intent perspective: Next, we look forward to examine purchase intent for not yet released games. As might be expected, Modern Warfare 2 and New Super Mario Bros. are the most recession-proof November releases, but Assassin's Creed 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 are also surging to the top of gamers' wishlists: With such a strong slate of mid-November releases, measures such as Awareness and Purchase Intent only show one side of the story. In order to provide context to these performance measures, it is important to understand who is showing interest in the titles. In addition to audience demographics and competitive affinities, the data can also offer insight into franchise lineage. This chart, provided exclusively to Gamasutra, cross-tabs intended purchasers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Assassin's Creed 2 and Left 4 Dead 2, with ownership for their previous franchise counterparts: This data offers a unique look into the composition of the target audience for each title. For example, Assassin's Creed appears to have the strongest franchise lineage, with 61 percent of intenders for the 360 sequel claiming to own the original. In other words, purchase intent is being driven by a majority of gamers who already own the first title. On the other side of the spectrum, 46 percent of those who plan to buy Left 4 Dead 2 own last year's original Left 4 Dead. That is not to say that the Left 4 Dead audience is disloyal (90 percent of owners plan to buy the sequel), it is just that interest in sequel has expanded well beyond the original base. This franchise lineage data suggests that the positive buzz for the Left 4 Dead franchise has quickly propelled it into the big leagues of console gaming. The upside to this rapid growth is the sequel is being mentioned in the same breath as titles such as Halo 3: ODST, Modern Warfare 2, and Assassin's Creed 2. The downside to the rapid growth is that the title is launching around the same time as these heavy hitters, and finds itself trailing these titles across almost every metric. Most importantly, Left 4 Dead 2 ranks behind its competitors in the "Recession-Proof Index," which indicates that if Xbox 360 gamers only purchase two or three titles this holiday, Left 4 Dead 2 could be the one most frequently dropped from the Wishlist. In OTX's view, Left 4 Dead 2 would have been better suited as a January or February 2010 release, where it could have benefited from separation from the holiday titans and competed against titles with lower competitive affinities.

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