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In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, August 2010

As Microsoft's Summer of Arcade promotion ends, Gamasutra examines chart and Leaderboard data to find last month's XBLA hits and misses, from Monday Night Combat to Shank and beyond.

Ryan Langley, Blogger

September 9, 2010

7 Min Read

[As Summer of Arcade continues with Monday Night Combat and a new Lara Croft title, GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley offers charts and leaderboard data to get an idea of which titles are hits on the service this summer.] With the third Summer Of Arcade now over, and following our in-depth Xbox Live Arcade stat examination for July, we take our analysis for August 2010's Xbox 360 downloadable games to new ground -- showing just how well games from prior years have done in comparison, and how these new games have fared. We're at a point in the promotion's lifecycle where practically all developers aim to get into the Summer Of Arcade line-up for the marketing bump. But when only five titles can be nominated, we see a spill-over of high quality content surrounding it. Can they also do great numbers without being an official part of the line-up? This month we're looking at Castlevania HD, Monday Night Combat, Lara Croft, Shank and Scott Pilgrim. Along the way, we're examining both the games' Leaderboard statistics in terms of unique users, and their positions in the Major Nelson Top 20 listings: xblaaugust2010.png Miserable Little Pile Of Secrets August’s first release was Konami's Castlevania HD, the third part of the Summer Of Arcade, and perhaps the most divisive game of the lot. In terms of reviews, it’s either been received well or very poorly – something akin to the reception to TMNT Re-Shelled last year. Compared to those of Summer Of Arcade titles in previous years, Castlevania's numbers were fairly low. Last year all Summer Of Arcade games added, at minimum, 80,000 players in their first week, but Castlevania HD seems to have garnered a little over half of that. However, I’d also like to point out that these stats are taken only from the single player, and the multiplayer Leaderboards were not included – there is a good chance that these numbers are a fair bit higher than we suggest, though not by a whole lot. By the end of August there were 75,000 players, and the title had dropped to adding 5,000 a week. Monday Monday Monday! Second-to-last on the Summer of Arcade was Monday Night Combat, Uber Entertainment's competitive 6-on-6 class-based shooter with Defense Of The Ancients elements, and my personal favorite of the bunch. In its first week, it garnered 86,000 players on the Leaderboards, as much as ‘Splosion Man and TMNT Re-Shelled did last year, with the additional requirement of needing Xbox Live Gold to make the most out of the game -- and an additional 400MSP in price on top of last year's top titles. It held strong in the following two weeks, with over 170,000 players total across three weeks in August, an impressive number. Light Guardians Crystal Dynamics' Lara Croft and the Guardian Of Light was the fifth and final Summer of Arcade release, and while it’s very co-op-based, the lack of online co-op play from launch (it was patched in at a later date) seemed to put people off. The Leaderboard stats we gathered are based off of all of the players who played a single player level, and then half of those who played the game cooperatively, as the other half would have had to play it offline on the same system. Lara Croft seemed to fall into the same pit as Castlevania, with initial Leaderboard estimates pitting the game with a comparatively low 44,000 players in the first week, for a total of 67,000 across the month. One might expect, with the now far larger Xbox 360 userbase, thanks to an additional 12 months of hardware sales, we’d see higher statistics for the Summer Of Arcade. Though the numbers are encouraging, this is not so much the case, which must be a bit of a disappointment for Microsoft and players alike. Shank The World The final two releases for August were Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World from Ubisoft and Shank from Klei Entertainment and EA Partners. Now, despite the poor performance of the Scott Pilgrim film in theaters, the 8-bit styled sidescrolling beat-em-up game has done exceedingly well – 71,000 players were added to the Leaderboards in the first week, not particularly surprising considering its quality and similarities to Castle Crashers. Like Castle Crashers the game has a single Leaderboard, meaning those playing it on the same machine are all counted -- this therefore inflates the Leaderboard stats a bit. Still, it’s done very well for itself. Shank, on the other hand has Leaderboards we just can’t follow – it only counts people once they’ve completed the whole game. 9,204 players finished it within the first week, and while it is a fairly short game it should mean the actual sales are quite high for a first week. xblaaugust2010stats.png Stuck In Limbo So what of those other parts of the Summer of Arcade, Limbo and Hydro Thunder? Well despite my inkling that Limbo would drop off due to the lack of repeatable content and being a strictly single player experience, it has beaten everyone’s expectations. Limbo's current Leaderboard total sits at 371,000 players – an amazing number of players. For some perspective – last year’s ‘Splosion Man has 325,000 even now and TMNT Re-Shelled has 329,000. To blow your mind a little more – even Braid only has 390,000 Leaderboard players. Give it another week, and Limbo will have it beat. Fellow Summer Of Arcade title Hydro Thunder has slowed down quite a lot in pace -- but at the same time it’s hit over 100,000 total sales, according to Leaderboards, with 52,804 of those in August. In other Summer of Arcade news, Shadow Complex has hit over 500,000 players on its Leaderboards – congratulations to Chair Entertainment for hitting that landmark. Other July releases, like DeathSpank and Blacklight: Tango Down have continued to trot along at a good pace, despite the Summer of Arcade games being positioned right next to them. xblaaugusttop202010.png Deadly Risks Unfortunately we only received two of the four weeks of August for the Major Nelson Top 20 lists, but we can still make some good analysis just based off of these two. Despite all odds, Deadliest Warrior is still besting the competition – for both of these weeks, the Spike TV-based game was still beating both Castle Crashers and Trials HD – I guess that’s what happens when you get TV advertisements and unlikely buzz behind you. Stainless Games and EA's RISK also continues to do well. It added an additional 20,000 players to the Leaderboards just in this month, and now looks to have sold over 125,000 units in total. xblaaugust2010dlc.png DLC Roundup No new DLC this month – at least, none that we could follow. Instead we have the usual few standout DLC add-ons a month that we’ve been looking at. Trials HD Big Pack continues to do well, with over 20,000 new players in August, and the Peggle Nights DLC did an additional 5,692 for the month as well. Both the Defense Grid and Toy Soldiers DLC continue to slowly fall in sales each month, not finding that monthly plateau just yet, but have done reasonably considering the cost it probably took to create them. It will be interesting to see how Toy Soldiers' second set of DLC does in comparison. One Day In September August may have been a big month, but despite the lack of promotion, September could easily best it. Microsoft is in the process of rolling out Dead Rising Case Zero, Plants Vs. Zombies, Sonic Adventure and the first piece of the Game Feast promotion with Hydrophobia. Therefore, we could well see a lot of digital sales -- even with the release of big retail titles like Halo: Reach and Dead Rising 2. It's certainly an exciting time to be involved in making digital console games.

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