In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, May 2010
GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley examines May 2010's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes with charts and leaderboard data, for a look at how XBLA titles from Doom II to Ben 10 are performing
[Sister site GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley examines May 2010's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes with charts and leaderboard data, for a look at how XBLA titles from Doom II to Ben 10 are performing.]
May has often been a quiet month for digital downloads in previous years -- a few big hitters, but mostly an excuse to offload multiple titles a week, to expel the backlog of Xbox Live Arcade games needing to be released.
Has this changed in 2010? We look at well-known titles such as Doom II and Zeno Clash, puzzlers like Voodoo Dice and the return of classic franchises like Rocket Knight and RayStorm.
We'll check out the Leaderboards for these titles, as well as look at the Top 20 lists released by the Xbox Live program manager Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb on his blog to determine how well they've done in the Xbox Live Marketplace.
The first two releases for the month were Taito’s RayStorm HD and Ace Team’s Zeno Clash, both released at $15 each. Neither game has Leaderboard statistics that we could follow, but we do have a good idea of how well they did.
RayStorm HD’s opening week had the game at 4th place on the Major Nelson Top 20 list, likely due to the support of the small sect of Japanese Xbox 360 owners -- the game continues to do quite well over there. But worldwide, the game has dropped off -- by the third week, the game had exited the Top 20 entirely.
Despite Zeno Clash's status as an indie darling on the PC side, it appears it didn’t get as big of a reception on the Xbox Live Arcade. The game only hit 8th place in its opening week, and was off the list by its third week. Disappointing, and for a title well-known in certain circles, it's quite poor.
Perhaps the 2GB file size may also staved off players who might still be using 20GB hard drives -- though there isn’t much the developer could do about that. Ace Team is still working on the sequel, though -- which hopefully we'll see on the Xbox 360 in time.
On Wheels And Rocket
In the second week of May, we saw two releases again – the return of Sparkster in Konami’s Rocket Knight, and the long-delayed release of Load Inc’s Things On Wheels. Unfortunately, we do not have a list of the top downloaded games for that week, but we do have Leaderboard statistics.
Rocket Knight was the most expensive at $15 -- as well as the best-reviewed, with a Metacritic score of 75 -- but it didn’t seem to be a big hit. In its release week, only 4,685 players were added to the Leaderboards, for a total of 6,972 for the month. The PSN version, by comparison, was able to get 9,553 players.
Things On Wheels was cheaper, but was received poorly by critics. The games’ Leaderboards only show 4,529 players had played it for the month. The game was delayed multiple times thanks to hopping across several publishers, so perhaps it may have been seen in a better light if it were released earlier.
The third week brought another two games to the table – Games Distillery’s Aqua and SNK Playmore’s Metal Slug XX. Despite a general consensus that Metal Slug XX was too expensive, since Metal Slug 3 was released on XBLA for cheaper, the game was sold very well, hitting 2nd place on the Top 20 in its first week, and only dropping to 4th in its second week.
Aqua didn’t fare as well – it hit only 15th place in its opening week and received just 3,079 players across the first two weeks. The game received little to no media attention before -- or after -- its release.
Doom For Voodoo and Ben 10
The final week brought three new Xbox Live Arcade digital-specific releases – DOOM II by id Software, Voodoo Dice by Ubisoft, and Ben 10 by Konami – all for $10 each.
It was an interesting week for releases, since nobody seemed to know what was actually coming out. Only Voodoo Dice was revealed to be coming out that week by the Major Nelson blog, but was also a game which nobody knew about -- it was never announced prior to release, and therefore got no media attention. In the end 386 people were added to the Leaderboards -- the game did not even hit the Top 20 that week.
Ben 10 had an even worse hand dealt to it -- the game had not even been announced for release that week, and its release was only known once the game popped up on the Marketplace. Due to this the game hasn’t been reviewed too much, but has had low review scored all around, perhaps due to its family focus. For its opening week, only 68 players were on the Leaderboards -- remarkably low.
Doom II, as one might expect, did do rather well on XBLA, despite the lack of prior announcement. It received 17,366 new players in the first week, and we should expect to see it high in the list for a while.
Like Toy SoldiersToy Soldiers has continued to be the breakout hit of 2010, with 29,301 new players in May - it's still beating Trials HD and Castle Crashers each week. Speaking of Trials, the game is just 30,000 players away from hitting 1,000,000 Leaderboard additions – an amazing feat.
As for May’s releases, Tecmo’s Tecmo Bowl Throwback has done rather well, all things considered. It did run off the Top 20 at the end of the month, but considering its only available in two countries it has been far and away Tecmo’s best digital release. Sega’s After Burner Climax has also been a big success, staying in the Top 20 for the whole month and still in the Top 10. It’s perhaps been their best selling title since Virtual On.
Capcom's Final Fight Double Impact did drop off the list early in the month, but still was able to add 6,880 players in May, for a total of 41,030 since its release. The PSN version by comparison added 12,230 new players in May, for a total of 53,860.
Month Of Deals
Two kinds of deals were made available this month – the regular weekly kind, plus three games -– Braid, NHL Arcade and Cloning Clyde -– that got permanent price drops. NHL Arcade and Braid were on the Top 10 for their first week, but only NHL Arcade stayed on for their second week. Cloning Clyde, it seems, did not make it to the Top 20 at all.
Zombie Apocalypse was the first weekly deal, and it hit the top of the charts for that week. Monkey Island did much the same, beating any new release for its week thanks to its price discounting.
For the final week of the month, we had a deal for three separate games -- Lazy Raiders, Madballs In Babo, and Band Of Bugs. Each of these did make it into the Top 20 for that week, though their sales weren’t particularly stunning. Nonetheless, they did their majority of sales in those weeks for the month by a very large margin.
Not a whole lot new for DLC this month -- we can see that both Peggle and Trials HD DLC continue to sell well against their full version variations, as usual. We can also note that while we can’t follow Magic: The Gathering DLC, the new expansion pack released in May brought the game back in the spotlight and increased the sales of the original version by a decent margin.
June is the month of E3, a celebration of gaming that will most likely reveal July’s major XBLA Summer of Arcade promotion. In the meantime, we’ll see a fair amount of new titles coming down the pipeline. But those in June generally haven’t performed that well – mostly thanks to a lack of solid IPs or well-known and awaited titles. Magic The Gathering came out in June last year and still sells a lot each week, so it’s difficult to determine.
But we already know that Snoopy: Flying Ace, Earthworm Jim HD, Ancients of Ooga and Neo Geo Battle Colisseum will be out in June -- so some top-quality games all round, as well as a lot of deals coming through the weeks. Looks like June might do alright this year.