"Thin Tail" Call of Duty Drags Down Sales

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thethird0611:
I hate to ask this... but I need concrete definitions, which I havent heard on alot of these terms.

What makes a gamer a casual gamer?
What are thin-tails, fat-tails, and long-tails?

Examples would be nice to. Im just in the dark with those terms right now.

I'm going to make some educated suppositions; I can't be certain the way I'm defining these things would be exactly the way the article's analyst would do so, but here's my take.

When he's speaking of "casual gamers", I imagine what he has in mind is not the people who've been deeply invested in games for more than five years- the people who've probably owned more than one generation of console, keep up on upcoming titles, read magazines and news sites about gaming, and so on. I think what he has in mind is more like the people who have been introduced to gaming through more friendly, intuitive, and unthreatening means- the Wii, the Kinect, Facebook games, cell phone games, etc. Some of those people may have gone "Hey, this video game thing is pretty neat, what else is out there", and unsurprisingly been informed by Activision's massive media push that they were about to introduce this movie-blockbuster-scale thing called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. And some of those "casual gamers", curious and/or swayed by a massive media push, bought it.

...And not long after got called a homosexual by a caffeine-addled adolescent on multiplayer, and are now rethinking this whole "video games are neat" thing. Thus "casual gamers leaving the market".

...Okay, that may be a bit of an oversimplification. But it wouldn't surprise me that many "casual gamers", after exposure to what we typically think of as AAA-games, decide that they're just as happy playing Sims Social on Facebook or Cut The Rope on their iPhones, experiences that require a good deal less investment of both time and money. Market analysts are just starting to climb out of their holes, see their shadows, and realize that the "casual gamer" market isn't something that their old market models (the big publishers putting out AAA-games) can necessarily depend on as a cash stream.

As far as the "tails" thing goes, I think it's pretty simple. Imagine, say, a dog, seen from overhead in silhouette. That big blob that's the dog's body? That's the big bulk of sales that occurs when the game first comes out, after all the ads and announcements and reviews. Trailing away from that dog is the tail... that's the smaller but still very significant and important sales that occur after that first frenzy has diminished. So if the tail is "long", it means the game continues to sell long after that first push. If the tail is "fat" or "thin", that's an expression of how many units sell during those "tail" months.

I suspect those dimming sales numbers are a reflection of the market's new reality. I think what we think of as mainstream gaming has been slowly heading towards a crash for some time.

MammothBlade:
Not to revel in Schadenfreude too much, but I think this is good news, a sign that CoD as a franchise has peaked and is going into decline. If overall sales are declining, that's because a chunk of CoD players are not enthusiastic gamers and instead of trying out other games, will just sell their consoles and exit the market altogether. Good riddance.

Also, I am picturing Captain Price riding on a comet, for some reason.

Can you people please, ever, read the articles.

You clearly forgot that MW3 is the biggest selling media title OF ALL TIME.

MW3 8th, black ops 5th? that means nothing, Nothing! MW3 could have still sold more than Black ops with other games just selling more still.

Also MW3 has already sold more copies than Black ops has.

Just did a quick count on 2 video game sales sites and for march it's 180,000 more copies of MW3 sold this year than Black ops for last year.

I honestly believe one of the reasons is that everyone that wanted the game now has it. Call of Duty has garnered so much hate from people and those people are dedicating their lives to telling everyone who'll listen the series is crap. People who have been following the series and know it isn't anywhere near as bad as everyone says it is most likely will have wanted to get it as soon as possible thanks to the cliffhanger ending of MW2. People who care will have purchased. People who don't will continue to whine and bitch about how dare anyone play a Call of Duty game.

As for the gaming industry having problems I have a suggestion. Lower the prices. I'd be much more inclined to buy a new game as soon as possible instead of waiting a year for it to become really cheap if it was just a bit lower, to say, $50? I'm sure I'm not the only one like this. The ONLY game I intend to purchase new on release day this year is Fall of Cybertron, and a game needs to do alot to ensure I'll be willing to fork over $60 the second it comes out.

Not to mention a slight price drop would possibly dampen the used game sales. People buy used games because games are so horribly over-priced these days.

Of course, lowering the prices like that could kill off the industry completely, so I guess it's not worth the risk. But my idea was that despite the fact you'd make less money each sale you'd get so many more sales it would make up for it and you'd get more money. This is a theory I've had for a LONG time.

I still mostly play CoD4, it's aged really well as far as I'm concerned.

I tried MW3...it was fun, for sure. But it wasn't anything really NEW. It felt exactly like MW2.

DVS BSTrD:
Don't be silly! This is OBVIOUSLY the fault of used games sales and pirates.
also immigrants
and gay marriage

Buretsu:

JoesshittyOs:
How ironic. People claim that CoD is holding back the industry, when really it's one of the things that's keeping it afloat.

Bloated corpses do tend to float very well.

Heh heh heh.... This thread is absolute comedy gold. Keep it up, people!

thethird0611:
I hate to ask this... but I need concrete definitions, which I havent heard on alot of these terms.

What makes a gamer a casual gamer?
What are thin-tails, fat-tails, and long-tails?

Examples would be nice to. Im just in the dark with those terms right now.

In business a "tail" is continuing sales long after release of a product. It simply refers to how many sales a product makes after the initial peak. Statistically speaking it also refers to a situation where a majority of the population exists in the tail end of the curve--ie, more sales in say weeks 3-8 than the first two.

To say a product cannot sustain a long tail is to say sales are dwindling so quickly that the total sales at the tail end of the curve will never equal or exceed the peak.

Lolwat? How is this because of used games? They are hardly anything knew so they shouldn't hae made much of a difference compared to BlOps last yeat. If anything, used sales have gone done because of the whole online pass bullshit...

If anything, this probabaly because of competition from Battlefield.

MammothBlade:
Not to revel in Schadenfreude too much, but I think this is good news, a sign that CoD as a franchise has peaked and is going into decline. If overall sales are declining, that's because a chunk of CoD players are not enthusiastic gamers and instead of trying out other games, will just sell their consoles and exit the market altogether. Good riddance.

Also, I am picturing Captain Price riding on a comet, for some reason.

Yeah, I do really hope that this is the beginning of the end for COD. Every installment has the same old dull repetitive gameplay, yet people seem to be stupid enough to buy it over and over again every year. And jjust look at all the stagnation this has cuased.

COD isn't selling enough! Everyone panic! The doom of the game industry is on us!
*runs around flailing arms*

I'd have though COD selling less would mean more sales on other games at least, but guess it's just been a slow month without genuinely exciting releases.

SargentToughie:

Or you could just do what I did and pull out an earlier generation system.

Hello there, PS2, I've missed you.

I see your PS2 and raise you a Dreamcast :P. Hello Jet Set Radio, Street Fighter Alpha 3 (and about 50 other amazing 2D fighters), Sonic Adventure and un-offical but totally the best version of Metal Gear Soild.

But seriously consumers hace hundreds of alteratives to AAA games such as cheaper modile games, indie games or indeed their back catalog and they are going to use them.

It's not hard to figure out why sales are going down and its one word, oversaturation. How many modern shooters are out now? The answer is far to many. You cannot shit out a similar games every year while other companies do the same and expect it to keep up sales.

The exact same thing happened with ww2 games, it happened with guitar hero and it will happen to the next fad you decide to milk till the tit is dry, black and falls off.

Soviet Heavy:
Perhaps we are seeing a shift from the AAA market to less expensive titles more willing to take risks?

Quite probably.

Most of the games I've bought this year were smaller, cheaper indie titles. I tend to buy those pretty easily since they're cheaper and often more clever (if a bit rough around the edges).

For my to justify paying 60 bucks for a game, it had better be DAMN good. Not that many games have come out recently that make me want to buy.

Oh, and I'm not into CoD, so I guess I'm not contributing to their sales either. :P

Scrumpmonkey:

I see your PS2 and raise you a Dreamcast :P. Hello Jet Set Radio, Street Fighter Alpha 3 (and about 50 other amazing 2D fighters), Sonic Adventure and un-offical but totally the best version of Metal Gear Soild.

But seriously consumers hace hundreds of alteratives to AAA games such as cheaper modile games, indie games or indeed their back catalog and they are going to use them.

Grrrr!!!! You have a Dreamcast! I'm so jelly!

Frankster:
COD isn't selling enough! Everyone panic! The doom of the game industry is on us!
*runs around flailing arms*

Let me help you.

image

4) Making and selling the same game several times in a row will eventually result in reduced interest in the game.

But no, its those damned consumers and their used games and casual games and other such nonsense. When did "The fifth installment of a series of games all released within the last 3 or 4 years that feature the same basic elements and is almost exclusively played for the multi-player didn't quite sell as well the fifth time around" become something unexpected?

Eventually even the big fans of your series will stick to the game they liked the most.

As far as I can see, the article merely states that MW3's sale pattern is more:

|-
|--
|----
|------
|--------

instead of:

.../-
../--------
./------------

Which is either an argument that more people are buying into the hype and pre-oredering/buying right away, or that people who are not pre-existing fans of the series are not convinced to invest if they did not buy in the initial rush, or that long periods before price decreases and/or used games sales are changing the sale pattern, or, more likely, a combination of all of these, plus some other stuff.

Which, given my dislike of Day 1 DLC, as well as pre-order bonuses which add (or rather, extract to re-add-in) significant content, I cannot see as a good thing, because the sensible thing for any company to do would be to maximize initial sales, as it seems this is by far where most of the sales (and, thus, inevitably, given high price at launch) the majority of their revenue comes from.

I read the title wrong, I saw "Thin Tali" and nearly flew into a rage, how dare they take away her curves!!

But OT: Most people I know missed out MW3 in favour of BF3, perhaps people knew that CoD was just going to be the same old tired shit and decided to try out pastures new?

I can't tell if this article means it'd be a good idea to pick up MW3 or not. On the one hand, I could lengthen its 'tail', which seems to be the problem here, but on the other hand, I'd be supporting CoD.
Oh, well. First things first, I need to get Mass Effect 3 before anything else.

JoesshittyOs:
How ironic. People claim that CoD is holding back the industry, when really it's one of the things that's keeping it afloat.

Doesnt really seem that ironic. If anything, the idea that COD kept the industry afloat is proof that COD is holding the industry back. If the industry is unable to support itself without COD than it really needs to be shaken up.

Thankfully, thats just not completely true...

Wow, who gives a shit? This is bad news FOR Activision, who have plenty of money as it is. It doesn't affect other companies in the slightest, as they weren't expecting to sell a lot of copies in March anyway. If they want people to buy more in March, maybe they should release more good games then, instead of loading everything into November like last year!

I like how Olsen makes no mention of former console gamers sick unto death of online passes, DLC milking, yearly sequels, market saturation and general contempt for customers among reasons for poor long-term sales. With luck, the situation will grind down into no-term sales.

I doubt many gamers would shed a tear if EA, Activision, Ubisoft and the like all folded and liquidated. The industry could use a good house cleaning executive purge. Fight the good fight people. Support small studios and up and coming indies.

Yeah that's it, blame the pre-owned sales! Not the fact that we keep making the same game over and over a-fucking-gain!

The reason CoD MW3 hasnt done as well as Black Ops is that its multiplayer is just....less fun to play. Hell last year me and all my co workers were playing Black Ops until August then took a week or 2 break MW3 lasted us all of 12 weeks before we all just stopped having fun.

T think some of the game balance issues (seriously WTF striker), completely schizophrenic map lay outs (every building has 4 ways in...), trickeling DLC to the "elite" members(seriously they released maps in 2s for 3 months!! then did a bundle buy...lame), and just overall multiplayer experience did MW3 in for me and my playgroup.

I dont know MW3 just seems more shoot other players in the back rather than actually out playing them or getting into actual fire fights, since you cant blackbird campers out of their hiding spots or nade/tube them (since they made explosives about as harmful as a powerful sneeze) so its WAY easier to just hide and wait with assassin on.

Most of us are back to playing Blops (which last time I was on still had over 100K people playing) to keep from getting rusty....

Andy Chalk:
"Thin Tail" Call of Duty Drags Down Sales

This franchise is obviously too big to fail. We need to call for a government bailout.

DVS BSTrD:

mattttherman3:
OR, and this is just a thought, you released the exact same game 3 times with no real changes. If you want people to play MW3, cut online service of MW and MW2. Plus that elite service thing probably doesn't help. Or perhaps, since MW3 sold so well, alot of those same people bought the game when it first came out, who knows.

Don't be silly! This is OBVIOUSLY the fault of used games sales and pirates.
also immigrants
and gay marriage

And the terrorists. Don't forget about them being @ fault as well.

I find it really endearing that because of one 'meh' gaming franchise which has about as many game innovations as Mario, is maintaining the status quo of the AAA market.

But it's not going to kill it, people have actualy realized that COD:MW3 is just like Halo, a fact I find depressing.

If they wanted to maintain high sales, they could come up with a plot as good as the first... But since it is established fact that not that many people think the plot for shooters are very good, the play the multiplayer part and since that changes as much as the Halo games, it just requires the annoying squealing kids that seem to populate the servers.

Oh, wait. It does.

Andy Chalk:
"...and three, cannibalization from the pre-owned market."

Seriously. Seriously, now? "Cannibalization"? They're using a term that means people EATING people to refer to buying pre-owned? I have some moral issues with the link they're making by wording it that way. Maybe if you gave me some incentives to drop 60 on a new game instead of trying to punish me for buying pre-owned, I'd buy new more often and not eat people alive buy used games.

Oh, you want profits long after release? Well update the multiplayer frequently. Make it engaging. Varied. Fun to play. Find a model that works and stick with it. Give the players what they want. Use micro-transactions for pointless yet fun things to get the money. Look at TF2. Some may hate what it does, but nobody can deny that what it does rakes in the money hand over fist.

Could it be... Could it JUST be... that maybe... people are tired of Call of Duty.

*Extreme face close up*

...I can dream.

Valok:

Frankster:
COD isn't selling enough! Everyone panic! The doom of the game industry is on us!
*runs around flailing arms*

image

Might want to edit that to have some text or you might get in trouble for 'low content'

But yeah, it's basicaly just because people are no longer intrested in it.
For good reason.

Of course it could have to do with the people who don't want to shell out 45 dollars for map packs feeling like they are increasingly being isolated from the community. Why is blame for poor game sales as vile and difficult to place as nuclear waste?

NIMBY and I'm out. Fuck them for blaming their customers. I haven't bought an Activision game in years, but they do such a good job of inspiring loyalty (both employees and customers).

jurnag12:
You know, a price-drop after a few months could generate more tail-sales, but noooooo, Activision wouldn't want any AAA game released in the last 5 years to be even a penny under 60, now would they?

Isn't the game sold at $59.99? That's a penny under right?

Shock horror! People aren't buying a game months after it was released! It's red button time folks!

some nozel:
"We believe big name titles are no longer able to sustain 'fat tails'," he said. "This 'thinning tail' phenomenon is driven by, one, casual gamers leaving the market, two, a steeper pre-sale and up-front curve, and three, cannibalization from the pre-owned market."

Bullshit!

It's caused by companies like Activision running their IP's into the ground. It happened with Guitar hero, it's apparently beginning to happen with CoD.

These guys know what they're doing. The copy paste the same game 10 times, make a killing, drop the franchise when it tails off, and start with the next big thing.

It's a good way to make a shit ton of money in the short term and completely salt all your profitable IP's in the long term.

The reason the AAA market is beginning to tail off is because the much cheaper and less ball squeezing titles that get downloadable release are becoming more popular.

The indi market is thriving because it's consistently trying new things that people don't mind dropping the occasional tenner for, whilst everyones waking up to the fact that a lot of the big name AAA titles are very similar and don't offer enough to variety to warrent yearly 40 purchases, ignoring 10 maps packs.

Remember 5 years ago when Halo 3 was the biggest thing ever, then everyone got tired of it and it was like OMG MW. Then people remembered battlefield.

Fuck knows what's going to be next.

PunkRex:
Well concerning the UK, maybe GAME going under had some effect? Maybe... I dunno, buisness is hard.

If GAME was a heavy seller of used games, that would make me laugh heartily if this was true. Publishers rail against retailers for used game sales, a retailer goes belly-up and suddenly game sales stagnate. Where's your argument now, publishers?
Of course this isn't due to just one thing. Many factors would definitely contribute.
The possibility that more people are paying more attention to their responsibilities as opposed to their entertainments is a strong factor, as well. With jobs getting harder to find, it is more important to make sure you have what is needed to get attention by the people hiring.
That is another strong possibility. And when you weigh that versus another sequel cloned from its previous iterations and another sequel that people are overly unhappy over its ending, it becomes clear where the money and time should be getting spent in March. And possibly April and May.

Could the lack of videogame sales in March be something to do with the lack of releases in March?
All the best selling games are released in late 3'rd/4th Quarters. So of course the sales figures later down the line are going to be god awful. Or am I just completely missing the point here? I mean, are the number of copies of MW3, in total, actually less than Black Ops?

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