The top 20 selling software list for December 2008 released by the NPD Group on Thursday of last week contained some surprising appearances as well as absences.
Today, Gamasutra obtained exclusive data to gain more perspective on the sales of some key titles.
The reappearance of Mario Kart DS, which first launched in November 2005, demonstrated the strength of first-party software on Nintendo's dominant handheld.
However, big-name titles like Ubisoft's Prince of Persia, Sony's Resistance 2, and Eidos' Tomb Raider: Underworld fell completely below the top 20 list, and so their sales figures remained unknown.
Furthermore, NPD provided us with launch-to-date sales for Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4.
Sony Exclusives: LittleBigPlanet and Resistance 2
For months, Sony has promoted Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet as its first substantial test of the Game 3.0 model first put forward by Phil Harrison at Game Developer's Conference in February 2007.
While the game did debut at number eight on the all-platform top 10 chart following its release in October 2008, it then faded below the top 20 on the crowded November chart. Going into December, the game had launch-to-date sales of only 356,000 units.
While it did not make the top 20, sales of LittleBigPlanet did rebound in the final month of 2008 to 255,000 units, bringing its LTD total to 611,000 units after three months. In a November interview, the head of Sony's public relations for the UK, David Wilson, expressed a belief that that "Sackboy hasn't even hit his stride yet" and that sales would pick up in December.
Resistance 2 is the sequel to Resistance: Fall of Man, Insomniac's alternate history shooter and a key launch title for the PlayStation 3 in November 2006. After launching with 385,000 units in November 2008, Resistance 2 sales fell 45 percent in December. Its LTD total now stands at 598,000 units.
For context, it is helpful to note that the original sold through 757,000 units in its first 13 months, but on a much smaller userbase and with fewer big-name titles for competition. It appears likely that Resistance 2 will surpass sales of Resistance: Fall of Man within the first few months of 2009.
Metal Gear Solid 4 Passes 1 Million
According to figures from the NPD Group, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has now sold over 1.076 million units since its launch in mid-June of 2008:
MGS4 was the PlayStation 3's first game to reach number one on the NPD Group's all-format monthly sales charts, with consumers purchasing nearly 775,000 copies of the game. It subsequently fell from the top 20 charts, and has averaged around 50,000 units per month in the interim.
The figures shown here, however, are only for sales of the boxed versions of Metal Gear Solid 4. Total sales are likely much higher, since additional copies were sold to consumers in special PlayStation 3 hardware bundles.
Big Names, Smaller Sales
In mid-November, Eidos released the latest Lara Croft adventure game, Tomb Raider: Underworld, on three home consoles: Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, and Nintendo's Wii. Using a completely new engine and more fully utilizing the latest graphics capabilities of the latest consoles, Underworld was a key title in Eidos's year-end portfolio.
According to recent reports, the latest Tomb Raider did not perform up to expectations and Eidos shares lost 25 percent of their value when the company subsequently lowered its full fiscal year guidance.
Eidos had reported sales of 1.5 million copies worldwide. According to the NPD Group, the combined U.S. sales of the game across all three consoles totaled only 246,000 copies since launch.
The new entry in Ubisoft's Prince of Persia series also failed to chart after its launch in early December. Sales of the console versions -- on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 -- totaled only 483,000 copies. (PC version physical and digital sales, as with Tomb Raider, were not tracked in this set of reports.)
During 2007, Ubisoft's new property, Assassin's Creed, sold 1.87 million copies just on the Xbox 360, although it did launch more than two weeks earlier and benefited from the late November sales rush.
However, we can also say more about Prince of Persia and how well it sold on the two consoles. In particular, Prince of Persia was the fourth best-selling PS3 game in December, between LittleBigPlanet at number 3 and Resistance 2 at number 6.
Since we know that those two other games sold 255,000 and 213,000 units in December, respectively, we can say that the PS3 version of Prince of Persia had sales somewhere between those two figures.
Those numbers suggest that the two versions of Prince of Persia probably had sales within 30,000 units of each other. This is notable, given that the installed base for the Xbox 360 is more than twice that of the PlayStation 3.