OTX: MadWorld Demonstrates Tenuous Link Between Web Hype And Sales

Using MadWorld awareness data, research group OTX has illustrated the often-thin correlation between online acclaim and retail success, particularly on Wii.
There has been a great deal of speculation about the underwhelming retail performance of PlatinumGames' MadWorld, but now research firm OTX's business intelligence tool GamePlan Insights shows detailed data illustrating the often-thin correlation between online acclaim and real-world retail success, particularly on the Wii platform. As demonstrated by OTX Gaming Insights director Nick Williams at the Los Angeles Game Conference, with slides made available to Gamasutra, the game's strong awareness among the hardcore online gaming community bore little relationship with its weak awareness among the wider gaming public. For example, from January to March, the tracking metrics used by major consumer gaming site pegged the bloody brawler as the Wii game with the highest level of unique interest, and by extension purchase intent. (Sega, MadWorld's publisher, did make the top ten with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. And there is generally encouraging news for third parties: Only one Nintendo-published title made the cut, Wii Sports Resort at number one.) But the GamePlan data from the same period, polling gamers across different demographics, placed MadWorld at a dismal number 41. The company says it surveys 1,000 gamers on a weekly basis, tracking 400 games at any given time. According to OTX's research, the ten Wii games with the highest purchase intent were exclusively music games, casual sports games, and puzzle games, with the only exception being LucasArts' Star Wars: The Clone Wars -- Lightsaber Duels.
MadWorld also received extremely high review scores from a number of major gaming publications, and averaged in the 80s on both Metacritic and GameRankings -- frequently used as internal metrics by publishers. The game ended up selling only 66,000 copies in the United States, according to retail tracking firm NPD; OTX determined that just under eight percent of Wii owners had heard of the game. Interestingly, MadWorld's preorder intent -- that is, the percentage of those already interested in the game who have committed to putting down money in advance -- was 12.2 percent, considerably higher than the top ten Wii games with much higher overall awareness. That behavior is in line with that of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers, who also tend to have relatively high preorder intent, possibly pointing to a mismatch between the game's potential audience and its platform. Williams concludes that the Wii user base has expanded to the point that it is not particularly represented by the audience of major gaming sites, which tend to be geared towards the more dedicated audience. But in broader terms, he noted that the example points to a problem with that kind of group-specific research. "Web analytics tools are only as accurate as the editorial content and user base," he said.

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