[Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines October 2012's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes, with charts and Leaderboard data showing the performance of titles like Sonic Adventure 2, NiGHTS Into Dreams, and Happy Wars.]
This past October had a glutton of new released on the Xbox Live Arcade -- SEGA Classics, Freemium titles, ports from PC and Kinect minigames. Numerous demographics covered, but how did they all fair?
Rolling Around At the Speed Of Sound
Week one of October was the release of two Sega Vintage Collections – Sonic Adventure 2 and NiGHTS into Dreams, ports from the Gamecube and PlayStation 2 versions of the games respectively, and games have a rather vocal fanbase.
Sonic Adventure 2 was the best selling new title for the month, with 20,687 players in the first week and 56,822 players by the end of the month. For comparison the original Sonic Adventure, released back in September 2010, added 15,780 players in the first week and 40,027 for the first four weeks. So it’s actually done really well despite low review scores.
The game hasn’t ages particularly well, but it does have its fans. We attempted to check the PlayStation Network’s version as well, but the maximum player count on the Leaderboards is only 10,000.
Weirdly, NiGHTS into Dreams, a game which Sega fans have been crying out to play for years and years, ended up selling rather poorly. The game only added 5,701 players for the whole month. You can see why Sega tend to pull the Sonic card as much as they do. It also doesn’t help that NiGHTS is somewhat difficult to get into compared to newer games.
Week two added three more games to the list – Happy Wars, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise and Worms: Revolution.
Happy Wars was released as a freemium title, being free with in app purchases for extra perks, though you still need a Xbox Live Gold account to play it.
The game added 209,881 players in the first week for a total of 763,469 players for the month. We’ve no idea how well the’ve done money wise. If we compare it to some previous free titles on XBLA, Dorito’s Crash Course added 509,730 players in its first week and Harms Way added 167,549 players, so Happy Wars seems to have settled in the middle in terms of popularity. In its second week it was the 11th most played title on Xbox Live, which is a nice accomplishment.
Worms Revolution is the latest game in the Worms franchise, and the fourth Worms title to hit the Xbox Live Arcade. The Leaderboards we’ve been able to grab are unfortunately not close to being how many actual players there are, but in its second week it was 6th on the Major Nelson Top 20.
We were unable to follow Naughty Bear: Panic In Paradise but in its second week it was 12th on the Major Nelson Top 20.
A Serious Zombie Discovery
Week three came with three new titles – the first being another free Kinect title, Intel Discovered, which was released with little to no acknowledgement before its release. The game actually didn’t get reviewed at all on Metacritic! We were able to follow the Leaderboards, which look rather low for a free game, but may only be of those people who completed the game in its entirety.
The second title was Serious Sam 3: BFE, the third Serious Sam title on Xbox Live Arcade and a port of the previously PC only title from last year. The game added 4,586 players in the first week for a total of 7,790 for the month. It’s rather low, but is better than Serious Sam: The Second Encounter did in September 2010, but far less than the original in January 2010 It was 5th on the Major Nelton Top 20 in its first week.
The final release of the week was Zombie Driver HD, a nearly 3 year old version of the popular PC title. It doesn’t seem to have sold that well, with 3,105 player in the first week and 5,114 players for the month. For its first week it was 9th on the Major Nelson Top 20.
A Guilty Home Run
The last two releases of the month were Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus, a port of the 2D fighting game, and Home Run Stars, a Baseball themed Kinect title. We weren’t able to follow Guilty Gear at all, but Home Run Stars seems to have sold poorly. Neither game was given any reviews at the time of writing this article – kind of showing that there was a lack of interest, or even knowledge that the games existed, among the press.
The Origin Of Pain
Two new pieces of downloadable content for October – the first piece of Trials Evolution DLC, The Origin Of Pain, was released The DLC package hit 37,235 players in the first week for over 100,000 new players by the end of the month. A great start already, but a little smaller than the original Trial HD’s first piece of DLC, The Big Pack, back in 2009. That pack hit 55,432 players in its first week, though it was released during the week of Christmas, which probably helped a bit.
The other piece of DLC was for Serious Sam 3: BFE – Jewel of the Nile. The DLC was as expensive as the game itself, but also included all of the online multiplayer options from the original PC version. These numbers only show the players who played the new single player levels, which is probably not a lot of people yet, so they’re probably not very accurate. All things said, since the main game hasn’t sold tremendously well, the DLC would only be a fraction of that.
Looking at some of the past few month’s top sellers, Dust: An Elysian Tale, Jet Set Radio and Mark of the Ninja have started to slow down from their initial release. Rock Band Blitz, Counter Strike GO And Fruit Ninja Kinect continue to do well.
Minecraft continues to dominate the entire storefront and the Xbox itself – for the week of October 15th, it was the top played game of all games online – including Modern Warfare 3, which is kind of crazy.
November looks like it’ll be a fairly quiet month with releases like Toe Jam & Earl Collection, Karateka, Pool Nation, and Pid. Good thing too, this year’s retail releases are going to be very dominate with Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Black Ops too.