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Analysts Predict Misses Of 2008 Holiday Season
Analysts Predict Misses Of 2008 Holiday Season
November 19, 2008 | By Staff

November 19, 2008 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

As part of a new Gamasutra feature on holiday season game sales, analysts from Wedbush Morgan, Screen Digest and EEDAR have been picking potential sales disappointments for this holiday, from Tomb Raider Underworld to Animal Crossing: City Folk.

The game industry analysts, which include Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan, Ed Barton of Screen Digest and Jesse Divnich of EEDAR, were asked: "Which titles coming out for the holiday season do you predict will be hits? And which ones will struggle for gamers' money in the weak economy?"

Firstly, EEDAR's Jesse Divnich has the following to say on the matter:

"If any cuts are made out of a gamer's holiday budget, it will be those titles that they could do without: games like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which is an awesome game with great branding qualities. However, it simply does not stack up against the large list of AAA titles this holiday season.

Others include: Need for Speed Undercover (which has become a stale brand as of late), Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and any other title that squeaks by with quality scores below 80 percent.

As consumers become more judicious with their discretionary income this holiday season, quality scores will likely have a bigger weight on a gamer's purchasing decision than in previous holidays."

In addition, Screen Digest's Barton was a little more non-specific and trend-based in his predictions, suggesting:

"Titles which might struggle for recognition, in one of the most competitive Christmas shopping seasons ever, include any game targeting more casual gamers and games based on new, non-licensed IP's.

Shelves at retail will be extremely crowded this Christmas and publishers must clearly communicate the benefits of their games, especially to more casual audiences who don't obsessively read every website preview."

Finally, Wedbush Morgan's Pachter made a number of specific predictions on titles that may disappoint compared to internal predictions, as follows:

"I'd say that the worst positioned are Midnight Club: Los Angeles (coming out in front of Need for Speed Undercover), Shaun White Snowboarding (the Wii version will do well, but is constrained by Wii Fit boards; the PS3 and 360 versions are not positioned well), Tomb Raider Underworld (a great franchise, but flying under the radar this holiday), and (waits for the slams from Gamasutra readers...) Animal Crossing: City Folk.

The last is a great franchise, but the Wii audience is dominated by the mass-market audience, and Animal Crossing is somewhat more hardcore than most Nintendo titles. I think that the game will do very well, but will likely be disappointing, relative to expectations."

You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including lots more discussion of how this holiday season may fare for the game industry.

[UPDATE: Michael Pachter has asked us to add the following addendum to his remarks: "When I commented on the likelihood of Midnight Club: Los Angeles being a disappointment launching in front of Need for Speed Undercover, I assumed (wrongly) that NFS would get solid ratings (it got 60s), and that MC would get fair ratings (it got solid 80s). Given the juxtaposition in their ratings, I now think that Midnight Club will perform in line with expectations."]

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Benjamin Quintero
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The question is, will gamers feel that City Folk is just more of the same? Have they innovated enough to make this a must have or will the mass market look at their old Animal Crossing and question why they should get another of the same game.

Thomas Arnold
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In the original article, Ed Barton lists Guitar Hero World Tour as a potential "hit", but frankly I don't see it that way. Most everyone I know already has a full Rock Band Kit and the idea of buying a whole new expensive set, when they could just buy Rock Band 2 on disc (and maybe upgrade to the newer Drum Kit) just doesn't make sense to me. No one is asking me, but based on what gets played on lunch breaks around the office here and whenever I go to parties, I'd have to say that GHWT will be a big fat Miss. Rock Band 2 has better, more consistant DLC (which is augmented by the ability to import Rock Band 1 songs).

But enough of that. My second thought is will anything be a "hit" on Wii. I mean I think that a lot of games will sell well on Wii just due to the install base, but it seems like the only Wii stuff on my X-Mas list will be Wii Points cards so I can buy more Virtual Console games, and with Sonic's Sega Genesis Collection coming to Xbox...I may not even want that.

John Palamarchuk
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Can't believe people make a living off making predictions as obvious as the ones in this article...

I predict Gears of War 2 will come to PC eventually... now where's my paycheque?

Razien Bordello
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Patcher is wrong. Could be right on the prediction, but he is certainly wrong on the reasons.

Wii owners are those gamers (like me) that wanted something different. My family enjoyed the platform and now they play games too. That's the biggest Wii base, and not casual audience. And AC is a core game, but it is very accessible too, therefore being really appealing for casual gamers that want something more (and by the core gamers that got their family and friends into gaming too).

The problem with the game is that it feels too much like the DS AC, which is very famous. Most people that got interested on the purpose or were AC fans already got the DS version, and wouldn't want to shell out 50 bucks (70 for the WiiSpeak bundle) for the same game with minor upgrades.

If Nintendo sold it for 50 bucks with WiiSpeak, it would be a huge success. Just like Wii Music, they are great concepts, but the execution isn't on par with the price tag (on Wii Music, lack of features; on AC, lack of differentiation from previous iterations).

Benjamin Quintero
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My point exactly. Thanks Razien.

Jason Smith
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I think NFS undercover will do fine, the last 5 NFS games all sold over 6 million within 6 month. Both Carbon and Prostreet are awful, but i guess people still buy crappy arcade racing games.