Rockstar Leeds and Rockstar North's Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
isn't just a rare example of a Mature-rated game on a Nintendo portable platform -- it's responsible for almost half of that segment's sales.
"As of February 2010, Chinatown Wars
’ unit sales in the U.S. represented nearly 50 percent of the unit sales of all M-rated DS titles in the history of the platform," said Ben Feder, CEO of Rockstar owner Take-Two, in an MCV interview
was famously portrayed as a crucial test for mature-themed games on a platform that has been enormously successful across numerous demographics -- but had been perceived as lacking in certain older-skewing genres.
Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, the game sold a little less than 90,000 units in its first month in the U.S. (Lifetime U.S. sales have not been disclosed by Rockstar or the NPD.) Nevertheless, said Feder, "I am very proud of Chinatown Wars
According to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board's website, only ten Nintendo DS games have been rated "M for Mature," one of which has not yet been released.
Most of those games have been knowingly published for niche audiences, and were not expected to gain widespread commercial traction, but some -- like Capcom's Resident Evil: Deadly Silence
, a port of the original Resident Evil
-- had previously been portrayed as potential bellwethers for the segment.
"The handheld market is currently challenged by weak demand and by piracy," Feder said of the response to Chinatown Wars
and games like it. "Piracy is a real and present danger for our industry and must be addressed, especially in the handheld market. The commercial performance of Chinatown Wars
has certainly suffered at the hands of piracy."