Jimquisition: Dark Souls and Dark Sales

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Dark Souls and Dark Sales

Dark Souls sold over two million copies and is a bonafide success. Tomb Raider sold over three million copies and is a disappointing failure. Wut?

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Here's hoping you feel better and such.

So you're only really a failure if you have to move back in with your relatives?
And would that ten year old boy happen to be your best friend from the future?

Get THAT reference :P

I remember when GSC was happy with its 4 million total sales on the ENTIRE STALKER SERIES (even though I think they did not include steam sales, still for 3 niche games on the PC it is quite decent). And how much better it was/is in many ways then most games that are released now. Hell, even visually, Clear Sky practically whipes the floor (its not even funny) with almost all AAA games this year...and it had better AI... and atmosphere...despite an engine from 2000...
What has changed with the way games are made now? I like Tomb Raider, but surely why would it want THAT much sales?

Dark Souls.

Murders everything but the budget.

Platinum Games and FromSoftware are probably my favourite devs, they make superb niche titles and to hell if they can't compete with the AAA market.

Just who the hell do you think they are?

Dark Souls is gorgeous? How can it be when it only runs like 720p and less than 200 FPS?

...I'm not serious, but it's amusing to hear this is such a beautiful game after seeing so many people confirming the Crytek claims by screaming about how inferior the visuals were and such.

More to the point, how does one spank a publisher? Because if they're going to act ten, we should treat them as such.

Another spot on video.

It really does seem an idiotic defence in regards to triple A games. You only have to look at Minecraft to see that spending a fortune isn't going to magically make your game better. A very simple game, using a very basic engine and it has made over 10 million sales.

If you want to spend lot's of money having the "best" of everything, then it is a good idea to give people something they have never seen before but want. Dead Space 3 added very little to the series when it came down to it. The game-play was mostly identical, bar a few new features such as grappling hooks. The graphics were not that much better, and the story was pretty average. So how can they justify spending so much money on it that they needed 5 million sales? What the hell did they waste it on? They didn't make a game amazing enough to make that a realistic outlook.

I think, 2K called the new XCOM a success despite selling only over 1 million copies.

Then again, I also don't remember the new Tomb Raider being called a failure because it didn't sell (yet?) it's expected 6 million copies... Just that they hoped for that and didn't got that far.

Thank you for upholding the Moral Imperative, Jim. And happy Jimquisition day to you too.

Also, I think part of the reason AAA games need to spend so much money is because they not only need to make the eyeball searing graphics, but also because 1) They need to market the SHIT out of it, and advertisements cost money. LOTS of money and because 2) They need to make the game in one year, so that next year they can make the NEXT game in the series.

It's pretty rare we see a AAA game not make those mistakes.

I'm sorry but when you described the fairy tale development I just think of Pinkie Pie developing Dark Souls.

Jeez, really creepy sense of deja vu this episode, I've been reading the exact articles you reference and thinking the exact same thing about how funny it was the Dark Soul's triumph came on the heals of Square's "disappointment". How publishers can set up such unrealistic goals is mind boggling. Praise the sun indeed for you.

Bindal:
I think, 2K called the new XCOM a success despite selling only over 1 million copies.

Then again, I also don't remember the new Tomb Raider being called a failure because it didn't sell (yet?) it's expected 6 million copies... Just that they hoped for that and didn't got that far.

I think the 6 million sales expectation was for the first month of sales. I could be wrong though.

Movies can budget according to demand, so why can't games? I don't get it. I never have gotten it.

You don't have an heir? May I be your heir? May I please be your heir?

I want people to thank God for me. Thank God for you.

Hear, Hear. I have to say I had a lot of fun with the new Tomb Raider, but didn't buy the whole "it's revolutionaryly different from previous games". It's the same story, Lara still is pretty much the same, still has that tight tank top, with camera showing her boobs for no reason, but I think the revolution is that she wears pants now. That's definitely an improvement, but I wouldn't call it revolutionary. And now she whines more and have mud on her face. They should just named it Tomb Raider:Dragon Circle and called it a day.

Since they wanted the new Tomb Raider to sell six million copies, does that mean the studio is screwed because it didn't? It sounds like they needed to sell that much to turn a profit, if what I heard from the video is true.

I dunno, this is all just to crazy to believe and yet here it is.

I think people are jumping to conclusions with Square Enix stuff. Especially Tomb Raider, which outside of one relatively known TV actress doesn't have a huge cast of major talent and barely came out a month ago. No one really knows the logic behind SE's sales expectations. IMO they bloated up those figures to make it look like they had a plan to make up for their poor performance in general and then scapegoated those 3 games for the sake of something to blame. There just isn't enough information to make definitive conclusions.

Charcharo:
I remember when GSC was happy with its 4 million total sales on the ENTIRE STALKER SERIES (even though I think they did not include steam sales, still for 3 niche games on the PC it is quite decent). And how much better it was/is in many ways then most games that are released now. Hell, even visually, Clear Sky practically whipes the floor with almost all AAA games this year...and it had better AI... and atmosphere...and an engine from 2000...
What has changed with the way games are made now? I like Tomb Raider, but surely why would it want THAT much sales?

Some imbeciles in offices think that big actors and tons of cinematic "gameplay" + multiplayer will make a game instahit. Well, yes, for some people maybe. But others will just continue playing some shitty games like Civilization II or III or HOMMIII or Morrowind. For example in 10 years I played about 300 hours in Civ II, about 400-450 hours in Civ III (I know I played it on Steam for 175 hours, but I played it from release date and bought Steam version only in 2011 because I wanted to get rid of our stupid localization) and about same amount I spent on Morrowind. And I know those numbers will grow. I also play Doom sometimes. Now I do it more rarely then before.

What do I want to say? Ah, yes! Game is not a f-ing movie! Relations between game and player cannot be built on the same f-ing basis! Movies are experienced while games are PLAYED. P.L.A.Y.E.D. There are rules, there are tools, and there is some backstory to reinforce gameplay mechanics and make them more immersive. If the game lasts for less then 10 hours and has now way to be replayed later - it's a bad game. It must have some hooks to get player back. It can be multiplayer (RTS, FPS), it can be narrative (adventures, RPG) it can be anything - but it has to drag you back. THOSE games I suppose can hop over tens of millions. Within f-ing 10 years or so! Not 6 000 000 in one approach! It's an example of some sort of - I don't even know how to call it! In any case, the industry will understand this soon. And I begin to fear they will understand it hard way.

I would rather know, what these publishers spent all that damn money on.
I played Dead Space 3. It was pretty, but it wasn't prettier than the previous games really. It didn't add any new gameplay elements, that need a lot of work either. So where did all that money go?

Great video, but here is my question(s).

Where did the craze of making hugely "unique" games with Hollywood actors and totally new game engines come from?

Why is the gap so large now that there are practically no middle games anymore? Why does everything need to be a smash hit?

Where did this all start? And finally, who other than regular gamers (such as ones like us, who join a forum to talk about our hobby) buys these games?

I'd say Dark Souls was pretty beautiful graphically. Then again I'm not the type of PC gamer who spends wads of cash to get all the new trinkets to put in my machine. I don't see why graphics matter so damn much. I'm also becoming disinterested with this whole "we need to be more like hollywood" kick. Some of the publishers are forcing it, but a lot of the people are wanting it because they desperately want the medium to be recognized by people who's opinions apparently matter so much.

Video games are in a sort of teenager phase. Just mature enough to not be children anymore, yet still trying desperately to be taken seriously as an adult.

And this, my friends, is why publishers like NIS and Atlus are doing terribly well despite not having many games that even get close to cracking the best-seller list. They develop and publish games smart; they keep the budget down, they concentrate their marketing on demographics they know will like the game, they make the game in batches and create more as the need arises. They sell games with the idea that while the first few weeks will be your biggest sales, you can always sell more later. They somehow sell based on the premise that if your game is good, people will hang onto it, and more will buy it new because used copies are hard to find.

And these are also the companies that thankfully will stick around should another video game crash happen. These are the publishers that already know how to turn a profit in a relatively saturated market, and they'll thrive even more if the heavy hitters sink with the industry. Dare I say they might even hoist the industry up on their backs and save it down the line, if that prediction happens.

I am reminded of the Pac-Man cartridge for the Atari VCS where 12 million were produced, more than the number of consoles at the time with the idea that the game would sell more consoles. Pac-Man is still the bestselling Atari VCS game, selling 7 million copies, but they wound up putting 5 million into landfill alongside ET. It seems that sales projections are a load of old tripe.

Yup. Good episode.

I've got dozens of triple A games and what do I find myself playing most of the time?

Mount & Blade Warband.

Yup.

Or some old games like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Theme Hospital.

Well, large publishers acting completely idiotically. They will die out. Guys like Deep Silver and Devolver digital will thrive though.
See, next gen will be all B-class games and indies. AAA will die out.

The nail. You've hit it. Right on the head. Again. Thank god for you.
Also:
image

I think it is worth mentioning that Tomb Raider is just using Crystal Tools (Final Fantasy XIII's engine) so there is saved money.

Why do I imagine this child dresses exactly like you Jim, including a tiny pair of sunglasses and a Willem Dafoe Jr.

The video game industry is too bloated to sustain itself and since I don't see any of the big publishers changing any time soon it seems to be doomed.

Time for a revolution here's hoping that we don't have our own reign of terror.

PunkRex:
Why do I imagine this child dresses exactly like you Jim, including a tiny pair of sunglasses and a Willem Dafoe Jr.

Not quite complete. He needs a friend who's a miniature version of Yahtzee.

Time will tell if developers like EA will survive the coming years, but looking at the mismanagement and... well, utter bulls**t that runs rampant in these companies I'd say it is doubtful at least.

I am still not convinced that losing the big companies will be a good thing exactly, but hey: as long as there are games like The Binding of Isaac, FTL or Minecraft I think I can manage.

O, and praise the sun a thousand times for you, Jim.

Captcha: first water. No tears shall be shed for the likes of EA.

Not meeting Sales expectations and not turning a profit are very different things, Doing the latter without doing the former is an easy thing to do, hell if you make something as a loss leader then its possible to do the former and not the latter and still be happy.....

If I make a game, need to sell 2k copies to break even and anything after that's profit, set my target at 2 billion and only sell 2 million, I've made a huge profit but missed my sales target hard.

To a certain extent it's not if a game will make a profit that matters, it's how much it will make compared to other projects you might commission instead.

Then there's the market leader spends less so you should to. The market leader needs to do less often as it is there, it's the one to beat so it needs to invest less.

I wonder what Square Enix would call their next game if it only sold 100,000 units.

Telltale Games would be satisfied with that.

http://allthingsd.com/20110217/telltale-signs-that-videogames-will-be-downloaded-not-sold-at-retail/?mod=ATD_skybox

There are probably bureaucratic/union reasons for it, but I'm always a little surprised no game company ever seems to go to their city's local community theater or college theater department for voice work, or hire from the web-listed semi-pros like The Stanley Parable did. Game creators seem to have gone straight from "Hey, Frank, stop coding for a second and come over and say some lines" to "We have to have recognizable names recording our dialogue" without anything in between, perhaps in the ever-present fear of not being taken seriously as a medium.

It was kind of cool to hear Samuel L. Jackson in GTA: San Andreas or Marina Sirtis in Mass Effect, but I didn't exactly buy the games because of them. There are plenty of competent actors out there who would jump at the chance to do that kind of work without breaking the bank in the process.

Total sales of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the SNES: 4.8 million.

Of course, it sold that many again on its GBA release, and who knows how many on Virtual Consoles, but even of you account for the relative sales of the consoles SNES & GBA v XBOX 360, Link to the Past was not as big of a hit as Modern Warfare, in terms of sales.

Yet try to find a single critic who will not put that game on their top 25 of all time, and from that success and others, Nintendo was able to make Ocarina of Time, and build substantially on their work. This is why I think the industry has gone mad.

I was thinking that the ten year-old analogy at the end was carrying the line too far, and became kind of frail. Then Jim said "Praise The Sun!" and everything was okay.

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