[Gamasutra looks at Sony's PlayStation Network downloadable game sales, with sister digital download site GamerBytes presenting an exclusive U.S. June Top 10, showing how titles like Trash Panic and the re-issued Final Fantasy VII fared in their debut month.]
Following our recent look at Xbox Live Arcade sales for June 2009, we now look at the top 10 PlayStation Network titles for June 2009, supplied to us through Sony's PlayStation press representatives.
The PlayStation Network received 6 new downloadable PlayStation 3 titles during June 2009 – Trash Panic, Cellfector: Psychokinetic Wars, Wolfenstein 3D, Gunstar Heroes, Droplitz and Bomberman Ultra.
The PS3's digital distribution network also included numerous big PSOne Classics such as Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid – bringing us the first PSOne titles to make it into the Top 10 in the past few months.
In this analysis, we'll look to see how well each title did, see which games released for PSN in April 2009 were able to hold on, and try to determine what trends might be gaining traction in this downloadable space.
Here's the North American Top 10 for PlayStation Network games on the PS3 for June 2009:
The PSOne’s Glorious Return
May was a very quiet month for the PlayStation Network, with only one new title breaking into the Top 10. But with the advent of E3, the release of some high-profile PSOne titles and numerous $5 PSN titles debuting, the Top 10 has completely changed in June.
Late in May and throughout June, the PlayStation Network received many high profile PSOne classics, and four of those titles were able to make it to the Top 10. Final Fantasy VII was released in the month’s first week, and went to be the best-selling title on the PlayStation Network for June. According to a press release sent by Sony, the classic Square Enix RPG had seen over 100,000 sold in its first two weeks of release.
Other charting classics include Resident Evil: Directors Cut, released at the end of May, and Street Fighter Alpha 2 from Capcom. Capcom intends to expand on these re-issues further down the line, and compared to some other publishers, they have the brand power to continue selling those titles at a decent rate.
The final PSOne classic on the Top 10 was Metal Gear Solid at 4th place, and one of Konami’s few non-Castlevania titles on the American store. Like Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil, it was released at the premium PSOne price of $9.99. But it appears that the publisher was still able to sell more than most $4.99 titles - PSN charts are ranked by number of sales, and not revenue.
The June-debuting PSOne-reissued titles not in the Top 10 were Medal of Honor, its sequel Underground, and Mobile Light Force. Electronic Arts has somewhat abandoned the MOH IP for the time being, so it's interesting to see them bring it back in downloadable form. But these were clearly overshadowed by other releases in the month.
Mobile Light Force was a budget release by a budget publisher, and it’s surprising that they can find the time to release their old PSOne titles, while other major publishers still refuse to bring their titles to the PlayStation Network.
Blowing Up Trash
While the PlayStation Network is well known for its new and quirky games, June was filled with a ton of popular classic titles. Wolfenstein 3D was released first, and was able to make it to 2nd spot on the Top 10 for the month. Unlike the Xbox Live Arcade version, the game does not include online Leaderboards, so we cannot tell how well the game has done in that regard. But compared to the Xbox Live Arcade version, which debuted in a crowded month for XBLA, it appears to have done notably better (at least in terms of chart ranking) on PSN.
In terms of classic titles, Bomberman Ultra, the port of the Xbox Live version, was the second best selling PSN title, charting at 5th. In addition, Gunstar Heroes, the only Sega Vintage game to make it across from the XBLA, fell in at 10th place. Both titles have Leaderboards, but only show the first 1,000 players, so it is unusable for estimation purposes.
Two puzzle games were released in June – Trash Panic and Droplitz. Trash Panic came in at 6th place, certainly helped by its $5 price, while Droplitz was unable to hit the charts at all. At the end of the month Droplitz PSN leaderboards were only showing 1,442 players. It had only been out for a few days when we checked, but the game was following a similar disappointing path to that of the Xbox Live Arcade version.
The other two titles not on the Top 10 were CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars and Heavy Weapon. CellFactor was released on the Xbox 360 and appeared to do fairly well, staying in the Top 10 for three weeks. But the PlayStation Network version was unable to hit the Top 10, a little disappointing, considering that you don’t need to pay for online play on PSN.
Heavy Weapon is one of the many PopCap games coming to the system, and of all of them, it’s probably the least well known. PopCap’s previously released Zuma also didn’t chart – it may be because that they’re being released for double the price that you can find them for on Xbox Live Arcade.
Due to the additions of numerous PSOne classics, almost all regularly charting titles – Flower, Wheel Of Fortune, Worms and Linger In Shadows all did not make the list. The holdover titles from May are Zen Pinball, and the apparently everlasting Mortal Kombat II. It’s fascinating to see that, despite the PlayStation Network’s firm stance that it brings more experimental games to the forefront, all but one of the Top 10 relies on gameplay perfected over 10 years ago.
Looking to the future, July is bringing us the likely huge success of Battlefield 1943, Wipeout HD’s expansion pack, as well as numerous games going on sale for half price. Will Flock! finally be able to find its place in its week of being half price? Will Shatter be able to make it to the Top 10 despite its late in the month appearance? We’ll have to wait another 30 days to find out.
[Thanks to Sony and Porter Novelli for releasing these statistics, and we'd like to also acknowledge my colleagues at Gamasutra and on NeoGAF for spurring discussion and bringing more analysis to the table.]