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Analyst:  Chinatown Wars  Disappointment Proves Third-Party Challenge On Nintendo Platforms
Analyst: Chinatown Wars Disappointment Proves Third-Party Challenge On Nintendo Platforms
April 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

April 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
Comments
    36 comments
More: Console/PC



With 89,000 units sold since its March 17 launch, GTA: Chinatown Wars far underperformed analyst expectations -- but Cowen Group's Doug Creutz says it's not the fault of publisher Take-Two.

"We view the title's performance as more indicative of the difficulties inherent in the Nintendo market for third party products and not due to any misexecution on Take-Two's part," says Creutz.

As the analyst points out, Grand Theft Auto is one of the industry's most valuable IP, and with Chinatown Wars, it was delivered onto the platform with the largest userbase -- where it earned the highest quality rating in the platform's history. With all of that in its favor, it seemed likely that the title could perform to expectations even factoring in the DS demographics.

"However, either the demographics are more challenging than we thought, or core gamers did not view the title as an essential purchase due to the nature of the platform," said Creutz.

The analyst says Chinatown Wars was still a worthwhile experiment for the publisher, and that it's still likely to be "marginally" profitable.

"The disappointing first month sales reinforce our view that achieving meaningful success on Nintendo platforms remains a very difficult proposition for third party publishers," he says.

On Nintendo's Wii, Sega's M-rated Madworld was just revealed to have sold 66,000 units, a "modest" performance for a mature third-party title on a Nintendo platform.


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Comments


Carl Chavez
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"However, either the demographics are more challenging than we thought, or core gamers did not view the title as an essential purchase due to the nature of the platform," said Creutz.



When did financial analysts start sounding like political pundits? Seriously? Only two possibilities? Geez, there are lots of realistic possibilities.



1) For example, I went shopping yesterday with somebody who finally bought "Chinatown Wars" after some internal conflict about spending money. There's something called a recession, and people are being more careful with their money.



2) This is only conjecture, but perhaps there is so much playable software on other consoles right now (including Rockstar's own GTA IV) that people in the target market are delaying their purchase behind Creutz' all-holy launch window because they have a finite number of hours in their lives, as well as a finite amount of money in their pocket?



3) This possibility is quite plausible: perhaps the U.S. sales don't reflect the full sales impact? What about Europe? GTA is popular there as well. It's MADE there. And what about the rest of the world? U.S. sales of games in the GTA series account for only 52% of worldwide sales.



In the end, though, "Chinatown Wars" has sold 89,000 copies in its first two weeks in the U.S. That's terrible; that's horrible; that's.... wait.... that's actually about the same numbers as for the first two weeks of "Vice City Stories" for the PSP in the U.S., which went on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide.

Joseph Ho
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Actually, the game isn't that good. Poor aim, poor story with forgettable characters, and GTA only got incredibly good when they went through the 3D-ification device and GTA 3 came out. The top downs never did as good and for good reason.



Mad World, despite it's incredible art style, was just a simple beat-em-up with lackluster controls. Now, if GTA was back in it's 3D form rather than the outdated top-down format, and Mad World wasn't released on a system now deemed a casual gaming machine, then maybe sales would be better.

Ian Fisch
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I posted the same comment earlier in a related story, but I'll repeat.



The hardcore demographic has been playing superior versions of this game for at least 5 years now on everything from the PSP to the Xbox360. Why would hardcore gamers, many many many of whom own DS's, purchase this game?

Kevin Jones
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@ Carl Chavez : "There's something called a recession, and people are being more careful with their money."



When did a recession start effecting only adult rated games on Nintendo platforms then?

After all, didn't RE5 on the 360 sell a massive 938K in March alone despite the recssion?

And on the same DS, didn't Pokemon Platinum sell 805K?



Carl Chavez: "This possibility is quite plausible: perhaps the U.S. sales don't reflect the full sales impact? What about Europe? GTA is popular there as well"



GTA is very popular in Europe yes..but on the PS3/360 right now. We have had European games charts since week 12, when Chinatown was launched in Europe, and it never set the charts on fire there either.

From Chartrack UK( the UK is the second biggest gaming market on the planet)



"Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars’ is new at No6, selling around half of previous handheld GTA title GTA: Vice City Stories’ launch week. "

http://www.chart-track.co.uk/?i=641&s=1111



Ireland # 10

Germany did not even chart

Sweden # 11



"wait.... that's actually about the same numbers as for the first two weeks of "Vice City Stories" for the PSP in the U.S., which went on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide"



Nice try.

You forgot to mention acouple of things:

# 1. When the PSP Vice City Stories was launched, the PSP had less than one quarter the install base that the DS has today.

# 2. Plus the PSP GTA: Vice City Stories had a much better launch in Europe(see the quote from Charttrack above) than Chinatown did on the DS.



The super low sales of Chinatown is even more serious when you consider the following:



Chinatown:

- Rockstar says "Twice as many people have worked on Chinatown Wars as on the previous PSP titles"

- Rockstar says "The game has been in development nearly two years"

- New engine

- New assets



GTA Vice City Stories:

- Half the people working on CW

- One year between LCS and VCS

- No new engine

- Lazy job reusing assets of the ps2 game



Heck, GTA IV on the 360 sold 1.85 million in its launch month in April 2008 alone. Even the PS3 GTA IV sold a million at launch last year. The DS has twice the install base of the 360 and 4 times the install base of the PS3.

No matter how you twist it, Chinatown DS sales are abysmal.

Dave Sodee
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I purchased this on release day but I enjoy GTA. I own it on the 360, the psp and now the ds. I was not thrilled with the look at first but after putting sometime into it I have found it to be a fairly deep and fun title. It is one of the better games I will enjoy on my dsi.



I hope it performs better as the ds and Wii need more adult content.

Dan Smith
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@Kevin Jones:

Recession not affecting games? I guess someone hasn't read the latest article about video game sales in March.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090417/ap_en_ot/video_game_sales

When the best game sold under 1 million, then there's something wrong.

Especially take into account on how RE4 did on the Gamecube. With about 300,000 sold after the first month and the amount of Gamecube sold, sales RE5 on 360 doesn't seem a huge amount.



I have no clue where sales of Vice City Stories is twice more than Chinatown Wars.

However, I just love when people compared sales of Chinatown Wars to sales of Vice City stories. However, I never saw anybody compared sales to Liberty City Stories, the FIRST GTA for the PSP.



I also loved how you stated that Rockstar needed more people, time, and materials in Chinatown Wars and yet couldn't sell as much as Vice City Stories. I guess no one heard of "cutting cost whenever you can." After releasing Liberty City Stories, all Rockstar needed is just copy everything, from code to experience, and modified as needed. For Chinatown Wars, the FIRST GTA game for the DS, you needed a starting point.



At last, I LOVED your comparison of sales of Chinatown Wars to GTAIV. Its like comparing the sales of Halo Wars to Halo 3 after the first month.



Nice try Kevin. Next time I guess.......

Kevin Jones
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@ Dan Smith :"Recession not affecting games? I guess someone hasn't read the latest article about video game sales in March"



Who said that?

You can't make up your own quotes and then answer them yourself.

This is what I said: if it's recession that made Chinatown bomb massively on the DS, why the heck didn't the same recession make RE5 bomb on the 360 then? RE5 sold a massive close to 1 million on the 360 alone in the same March, no?

Does the recession affect only adult games on the DS?

Sounds like a pretty poor excuse to me.



@ Dan smith: "When the best game sold under 1 million, then there's something wrong"



Huh?

Are you for real?



Some of the monthly top selling NPD games from the past:

December 2006: 360 Gears of War - 815,700

January 2007 : 360 Lost Planet - 408,000

February 2007: 360 Crackdown – 427,000

March 2007 : PS2 God of War II - 833,000

May 2007 : NDS Pokemon Diamond - 331,000

August 2007 : 360 Madden NFL 08 - 896,600

July 2007 : 360 NCAA Football 08 - 397,000

May 2008 : 360 Grand Theft Auto IV - 871,300

June 2008 : PS3 Metal Gear Solid 4 - 774,600



Etc.

FACT: Most NPD months have the top sellers selling less than a million, recession or no recession.

Kevin Jones
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@ Dan Smith

:" With about 300,000 sold after the first month and the amount of Gamecube sold, sales RE5 on 360 doesn't seem a huge amount."



Huh?

RE4 on the Gamecube sold only 319,000 units, when it was launched in January 2005. Compare that to 938,000 RE5 sales on the 360 this March. It's not even close. RE5(360) outsold RE4(Gamecube) by close to 3 times in it's first month.

Even after 4 months, RE4 had still only sold only 500,000 units, still about half what RE5 sold on the 360 in just one month.

http://cube.ign.com/articles/588/588353p1.html

http://videogames.yahoo.com/news-1139975





@ Dan Smith:"I also loved how you stated that Rockstar needed more people, time, and materials in Chinatown Wars and yet couldn't sell as much as Vice City Stories"



It did. That's a fact.





@ Dan Smith:"I guess no one heard of "cutting cost whenever you can."



Thay have. They also heard of "use all the resources you need to make a quality game". And Chinatown was AAA.





@ Dan Smith: "At last, I LOVED your comparison of sales of Chinatown Wars to GTAIV. Its like comparing the sales of Halo Wars to Halo 3 after the first month"



Nope.

Both GTA IV and Chinatown are AAA GTA games that received 90 plus scores at Metacrtic. And, the DS has a bigger install base than the 360 and PS3 combined. Chinatown shoulda sold vastly more than 89,000 units.

Talking about Halo Wwars, it DID manage to sell 639K last month. Compare that to the measelly 89,000 that Chinatown sold on the DS.

You are one funny guy ain't ya?

Kevin Jones
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@Jerry Hernandez

: "How in God's green Earth do they even expect to have a following for their top brands on systems and their respective user bases when they have been doing anything possible to keep them away from them for YEARS?"

How? Easy.

The same way that Resident Evil has never been released on an XBOX before, and yet RE5 sold a massive 938K, when it was released on the 360 for the first time ever in March this year.





@Jerry Hernandez:"Rockstar has no right to complain. No right whatsoever"



As far as I know, Rockstar hasn't complained to anyone. However, the massive bombing of Chinatown will probably see to it that they never waste their money releasing big GTA games on Nintendo consoles.



@Jerry Hernandez: "If they had, then you would see something similar to what CAPCOM did since the GameCube days. When they took the Resident Evil brand and introduced it to Ninty fans. Since then, EVERY SINGLE RESIDENT EVIL GAME ON A NINTENDO CONSOLE HAS SOLD MORE THAN 1 MILLION UNITS (including on the Wii)."



Not even a single Resident Evil game has EVER bean released on a Microsoft console before, but that didn't stop REE5 from selling a massive 938K in Mrach did it?

As a matter of fact, RE5 on the 360 massively outsold RE4 on the Gamecube in first month sales. That excuse just won't wash.

The Nintendo fanboy excuses are getting funnier by the minute, but hey, just keep 'em coming wil ya?



@Jerry Hernandez:"... consider that Killzone 2 had relatively disappointing sales numbers despite selling 1 million units. Those numbers were lukewarm considering that the PS3 supposedly has a majority of harcore gamers "



The PS3 doesn't. The hardcore is split between the 360 and the PS3.

Plus Kilzone 2 sold vastly more than Chinatown anysays.

Tom Krausse
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What everyone seems to be forgetting, most analysts included, is that games on Nintendo consoles tend to have nontraditional sales patterns. Most consoles have a tremendous amount of sales in the first week/month, then quickly fade to minimal sales. Nintendo consoles, even if they lack the initial surge of sales, tend to stay up for quite some time. Case in point, the DS version of Call of Duty. First month sales were around 36,000 (less then half on GTA's), but lifetime sales have passed 500,000. Personally, I'd consider 500,000 sales to be a fairly successful title, but the first month sales don't show it. Given the typical sales pattern on Nintendo consoles, though, I would not be surprised to see GTA breaking a million sold.

Bertil Hörberg
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I think the problem is also that the game itself is a lot more niche than the recent games in the series. GTA is not a hardcore gamer franchise. Ever since GTA3 it's been a casual semi-realistic driving/ stealing/killing sandbox that has appealed to a broad market. Chinatown takes the game back to it's topdown roots, and while the core gamers and reviewers have no problem with that, it naturaly gives it less mass market appeal.

Kevin Jones
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:"Case in point, the DS version of Call of Duty. First month sales were around 36,000 (less then half on GTA's), but lifetime sales have passed 500,000. "



Looking at sales patterns of Chinatown at retail shops that I have seen, Chinatown is gonna struggle to ever hit 500,000.

But even even if Chinatown ends up selling 500,000 units, that will still be massively below what GTA IV did on the 360 alone in it's first month, which was 1.85 million.

Remember, Chinatown was a completely new version of GTA(same as GTA IV was), which had a new new engine, new assets, and huge resources put it making it. The sales returns are pretty pathetic so far.



"Given the typical sales pattern on Nintendo consoles, though, I would not be surprised to see GTA breaking a million sold"



I am gonna bet that Chinatown will never even come close to selling anything like a million. These are figures that Nintendo fanboys just keep plucking from this air and populating internet gaming boards with.

The fact of the matter is that most Nintendo platform games that bomb in the first month, tend to bomb in lifetime sales as well. You can't just cherry pick the very few Nintendo platform games that bombed in their first months and did well later, and claim that it happens to all Nintendo games that bomb in their first month, do well later. Most don't.

I can give you examples on Nintendo platform games that bombed in the first month and bombed in lifetime sales too:

NBA Live 09 All-Play

NBA Live 08

NCAA Football 09



Even Rcokband 2, which was launched on the Wii in December, bombed in December NPD(it never made the top 20 in December NPD), and has continued to bomb since then.

Kevin Jones
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@ Bertil Hörberg:"Chinatown takes the game back to it's topdown roots, and while the core gamers and reviewers have no problem with that, it naturaly gives it less mass market appeal. "



The trouble with that theory is, if that same game had been released on the 360/PS3 it woulda sold millions(like every single GTA game has on the XBOX/Playstation consoles). Heck even back in the day, when GTA was a timed exclsive on the PS2, it still had great sales on the original XBOX, despite XBOX owners only getting it much latter after the PS2 guys had already gotten the game.

Bertil Hörberg
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@Kevin Jones:"The trouble with that theory is, if that same game had been released on the 360/PS3 it woulda sold millions"



How exactly can you know that? the series started selling like crazy when it went third person 3d in GTA3; before that it was a niche title. Obviously the franchise has built an enourmous fan base since then so the hype is a lot bigger, but it's a pretty huge departure from what those fans are used to. The PSP titles were more straight forward portable versions. Chinatown is different enough to be considered a spinoff in a different genre, which rarely do anywhere near as well as the main series.



I admit I had expeted it to do better but I think there are a number of reasons behind it's failure (though I still think it will be moderatly successful in the long run, the initial sales aren't really that different from Vice City Stories on the PSP). The DS demographics may be one of them but I don't hink it's the only reason.

Kevin Jones
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@ Bertil Hörberg:"How exactly can you know that?"



Because every single GTA release on the Playstation/XBOX paltforms in the last decade have sold in their milions. Why would that change?

DUH!



@ Bertil Hörberg: "Chinatown is different enough to be considered a spinoff in a different genre, which rarely do anywhere near as well as the main series."



Spin, spin spin.

There are whose who would argue exactly the same thing about GTA IV, but that never stopped GTA IV from breaking fastest selling sales records at launch on the 360/PS3, did it?



@ Bertil Hörberg: "but I think there are a number of reasons behind it's failure"



Everyone can think of plenty of excuses as to why they fail at anything..usually they will try and blame someone else for their own failures. The jails are full of people who have a boatload of reasons why they failed in life. That desn't make those reasons valid nor does it make the reasons not self serving excuses.



The ridiculous excuses from the Nintendo fanboys keeps getting more bizare by the minute, but hey, just keep 'em coming will ya?

Bertil Hörberg
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"Because every single GTA release on the Playstation/XBOX paltforms in the last decade have sold in their milions. Why would that change?"



Because those where all the same kind of game that appealed to the same fans, and GTA4 was the continuation that promised better graphics and more realism. Chinatown does the exact opposite; it changes the gameplay and brings it into a more niche genre and considerably less realistic graphics.



"The fact of the matter is that most Nintendo platform games that bomb in the first month, tend to bomb in lifetime sales as well"



That's true for anyplatform but what's unique about the DS is that most of it's successful titles "bombed" in their first weeks as well. A lot of the sucessful third party games on the DS, in different genres and different qualities, did considerably less in their first weeks than Chinatown. Cooking Mama, Sonic Rush, Professor Layton, Imagine Babiez, FFXII Revenant Wings, LEGO Star Wars, Hannah Montana all did worse than GTA in their first weeks but are all well beyond a million worldwide.



So even though it didn't have a blockbuster opening, it's still to early to say how successful the game will be; In fact Vice City Stories on the PSP did worse than Chinatown in it's first weeks in the US, but has sold over 3 million. Admittedly that was back when the PSP install base was still small.

Kevin Jones
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@ Bertil Hörberg

:"Because those where all the same kind of game that appealed to the same fans, and GTA4 was the continuation that promised better graphics and more realism"



GTA IV made plenty of deviations from the normal GTA formula. Gaming boards av been full of GTA fans who have complained about how different GTA IV was. The point here being that no amount of "deviation" from the GTA norm affected GTA IV sales. It proceeded to shatter sales records all across the world. That makes your excuses on the massive bombing of Chinatown, nothing but self serving excuses.



"Chinatown does the exact opposite; it changes the gameplay and brings it into a more niche genre and considerably less realistic graphics. "



Practically all games on the DS have less realistic graphics than the PS3/360 versions. The DS is a handheld. DUH!

The same thing can be said about Wii games too. It's funny that should be coming from you, given that Wii fanboys repteadly keep insisting that graphics don't matter, whenever the much better PS3/360 graphics is brought into any conversation.

Kevin Jones
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:"That's true for anyplatform but what's unique about the DS is that most of it's successful titles "bombed" in their first weeks as well"



Yes, but I was not the one claiming that Chinatown was gona sell a million because DS games have long legs. It was Nintendoi fanboy that made this claim in this thread, which is why I gave him that reply.



"A lot of the sucessful third party games on the DS, in different genres and different qualities, did considerably less in their first weeks than Chinatown. Cooking Mama, Sonic Rush, Professor Layton, Imagine Babiez, FFXII Revenant Wings, LEGO Star Wars, Hannah Montana all did worse than GTA in their first weeks but are all well beyond a million worldwide."



One difference between Chinatown and those games you mention: Chinatown is an adult rated, mature game. All those DS fangirls and kiddies who are nuts about Cooking Mama and Hana Montana, are prevented by law from even buying or playing an adult rated Chinatown, which is precisely the point that this article is making..that adult, mature games like Chinatown don't sell so good on the DS.

Bertil Hörberg
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Graphics matters when you're trying to market a game. I know they changed a lot of things in GTAIV and alot of people were dissapointed, but they didn't notice until after they bought the game. I think most casual GTA-fans will take one look at Chinatown screenshot and pass it up because it doesn't look like the same game at all.

Kevin Jones
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@ Bertil Hörberg :" Graphics matters when you're trying to market a game "



Crap graphics haven't stopped Wii games from selling well have they?

In the UK, EA was even repriminded by the ASA, for using graphics from the 360's Tiger Woods to do TV commercial for Tiger Woods on the Wii. Only thing is, Tiger Woods on the Wii easily outells Tiger Woods on the 360, despite the 360 version having better graphics.



"I know they changed a lot of things in GTAIV and alot of people were dissapointed, but they didn't notice until after they bought the game"



Word of mouth is your friend, espeially on the 360, where word of mouth about games spread very quickly on XBOX Live.

Furthermore, GTA IV still sold 871,300 in it's second NPD month (after selling 1.85 million in it's first month), even after word of mouth had gotten around about the game.

Tom Krausse
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@Kevin.



I'm curious, why do you seem obsessed with proving that the game is a failure? You've accused all of us of being fanboys, but you seem to be more of an anti-fanboy then all of us put together.

Kevin Jones
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@ Jerry Hernandez

:"^^^ Easy? You thought what Capcom did was easy? "



what n earth are you prattling on about?

who the heck said anything about Capcom finding it easy to make RE5?

In case you forgot, this is the question you asked bfore that:



"How in God's green Earth do they even expect to have a following for their top brands on systems and their respective user bases when they have been doing anything possible to keep them away from them for YEARS?""



To which I rpelied:

"How? Easy. The same way that Resident Evil has never been released on an XBOX before, and yet RE5 sold a massive 938K, when it was released on the 360 for the first time ever in March this year"



The point being, Capcom has NEVER released any Resident Evil game on any XBOX console before, YET RE5 manged to sell a massive close to 1 million in its first month alone on the 360 in the first release of RE on an XBOX console.

That totally destroys your theory that Chinatown bombed on the DS because take Two has never put GTA on DS before.

Stop putting words in my mouth before answering questions you put there yourse;f will ya?

Roberto Alfonso
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LOL, Tsk, fangirls, kiddies... I guess you two should go back to GameFAQs to discuss.

Bertil Hörberg
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I think most people could agree that it's harder to market a topdown game for the mass market than a realistic styled third person game. There's also plenty of proof that spinoffs and games that stray too far from the normal style of the franchise usually sell a lot less than the main series. There are also other factors like marketing and competition. GTA4 had one of the biggest marketing campaigns ever in gaming history and recieved lots of massmedia coverage; I don't really know how much marketing there was for china town, but I personaly haven't seen ads or heard any reports about building sized billboards like GTA4. It was also released very close to the Lost and Damned, which might be cannibalising it's sales.



The DS may not be the ideal platform for the franchise, but I don't think it's fair to compare GTA4s 4 million opening with Chinatowns 89.000 and blame it all on the platform and the M-rating. It's also too early to say how much the title will sell in the long run.

Kevin Jones
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Jerry Hernandez:"First, in 2005 the GameCube was dying"



It still had an install base of close to 24 million, who were not dying, and who regularly bought games. Gamecube owners continued to buy games in high quantities till the wii was launched in 2006. Even after the wii was launched, Zelda still sold 532.9 K on the Gamcube in December 2006, even when it was released after the Wii version. So that excuse just won't wash at all.

http://kotaku.com/gaming/npd/npd-mario-madden-top-software-list-2
28222.php



@Jerry Hernandez:"Currently, RE4 for the Cube has sold 1,600,000 units"



RE5 on the 360 has probably outsold that 1,600,00 in just one month, if you add US sales to EU sales to Japan sales. And this is the very first RE on any XBOX console.





@Jerry Hernandez:"PS3 has its VERY OWN user base. 21 million of them"



yes, but then this is what you said:"... consider that Killzone 2 had relatively disappointing sales numbers despite selling 1 million units. Those numbers were lukewarm considering that the PS3 supposedly has a majority of harcore gamers "



To which I replied that the hardcore gamers are currently split @Jerry Hernandezbetween the 360 and the PS3. I would refer you to the dictionary to find out the meaning of "split".



@Jerry Hernandez: "Yet only a fraction of that user base bought Killzone 2"



Well compare killzone 2 sales to Chinatown sales on the DS, and Madworld sales on the Wii. Killzone sales totally destroy sales of either game, despite both the Wii and DS having vastly bigger install base than the PS3.

Kevin Jones
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@ Bertil Hörberg

:"There's also plenty of proof that spinoffs and games that stray too far from the normal style of the franchise usually sell a lot less than the main series"



Mario Kart and the other Mario spinoffs on the Wii/DS which have sold millions say "Hello"

Halo Wars also says "Hello". Halo Wars sold a darn site more than Chinatown, despite Halo Wars being an RTS spin off from Halo, and the fact that RTS don't usually selling well on consoles at all.

Kevin Jones
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@Jerry Hernandez::"As a response to my previous post you said it was EASY. Got it?"



I said it was easy for Capcom to SELL a million RE5 on the 360 in just one month, DESPITE never having reelease any RE on an XBOX console before.

Easy to sell a great game on the 360 is NOT equal to easy to MAKE a great game on the 360. Get it?

Kevin Jones
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@Jerry Hernandez:"Thing is, they failed to build a fanbase like CAPCOM had done."



Capcom never built any Resident Evil fanbase on the XBOX either, and still manged to sell a massive 1 million RE5 units on the 360 in just one month.

Your excuses are getting less vaild by the minute.



@Jerry Hernandez:"The fact that it sold 66k is actually good news."



Good news for who?

Not for Take Two, who continue to lose money, that's for sure.



@Jerry Hernandez:" At least they're on their way to make up for developing costs"



Says who?

Take Two told you how much they spent making this AAA game for the DS, for which they developped a new engine?



@Jerry Hernandez: "And GTA actually sells as good if not better in Europe"



In which European clountry did Chinatown do so well then? Why don't you tell us about it?

Kevin Jones
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@Jerry Hernandez:"Dude, just accept the fact that you didn't follow what I was saying before"



I know exactly what you said. Question is, do you?

You are all over the place.

Bertil Hörberg
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"Mario Kart and the other Mario spinoffs on the Wii/DS which have sold millions say "Hello"

Halo Wars also says "Hello"."



Yes there are a number of sucessful spinoffs. Mario Kart is by now almost a bigger series than the platform series and it has always been succesful, but not all Mario franchises have done quite that well. Halo Wars did very well for a spinoff and an FPS, but it will obviously not reach HALO3s numbers. Pokemon has also has a number of succesful spinoffs but they don't reach 10 million like the main series. There are a number of Final Fantasy spinoffs both on the DS and other platforms that has done pretty well, but nowhere near the main series. There are also a number of spinoffs that has bombed.



My point is that while slapping the name of a big franchise onto a product certainly increases sales, it doesn't mean it will instantly sell 10 million copies if the game doesn't have the same mass market appeal as the rest of the franchise. It may not be the only reason why Chinatown sold poorly but it's cerainly a big factor.

Kevin Jones
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@ Jerry Hernandez

:"By that reply, you meant to say to me that Capcom didn't have any need to start building a fanbase on Nintendo consoles to get results. That's what I had said beforeYou didn't agree with that"



Wrong!

What I said was Capcom did not build up the RE franchise on the XBOX platform, yet manged to sell a WHOPPING one million units of RE5 on the 360 at launch last month.

That gives a lie to ypour cliam that Chinatown didn't sell on the DS because Take two didn't build up the GTA franchise on the DS.

You don't need to build up a franchise on a platform to sell a very good game in huge numbers. RE5 on the 360 prves that.

chinatown on the DS was a MASSIVE bomp. Period. No pathetic, self serving excuses from the Nintendo fanboys is gonna change that.

Kevin Jones
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Jerry Hernandez

:" So what else is new? X360 users LOVE Co-Op games and RE5 is basically that"



And the Wii fangirls don't?

You are the same guy that was shrilly boasting about RE4 sales on the Gamcube earlier in this thread, no?

You don't need me to tell you that not every co-op game o the 360 sells 1 million in it's first month, especially if that first ,pnyth is in a slow selling March.



@ Jerry Hernandez:

"Oh, wait, RE5 actually was about a generic white dude shooting at generic black dudes. "



Groan!

I could just see that coming from a mile off.

The inevitable nasty race card, dealt from the bottom of the deck, from yet another loonly left crazy. OJ Simpson says "Hello!"

Kevin Jones
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@ Jerry Hernandez::" got the same information from where you got those DELL numbers from"



In other words, you made up the numbers, and plucked them from thin aire, like Nintendo fangirls usually do whehnever they are losing yet another argument.

Poor guy.

There is no way, Take Two is making a profit in a AAA title that they spent years developing, and developed an entirely new engine for, that has sold less than 90,000 units in the US, and had pretty poor sales in Europe.



@ Jerry Hernandez:"I dunno about a "clountry" but I'm pretty sure I was talking about the GTA brand as a whole and not a specific game."



What on earth has GTA brand as a whole got to do with poor Chinatown sales on the DS?

Sure, GTA IV set sales records in Europe when it was launched last year..on the PS3 and the 360. That has nothing to do with very poor Chinatown sales when it was luanched this year. That's precisly the point being made in this article..that while the GTA franchise sells millions on the Playstation and the XBOX, it selling really badly on the kiddie/female demographic that dominate the DS owners

Joe Maywalt
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I have a few thoughts:



1) This is not the best game for the DS, and it certainly isn't good enough to be 3 percentage points above any other DS title in the review aggregate. It is a good game, and I have now played it longer than *any other GTA game,* but like its console brothers, it is vastly overrated. The reviews for games that have been published since the release of DS and PSP prove a desperate need for reviewers with more diverse tastes. Games that are favored by those that call themselves "hardcore" get at least a 10 out of 100 point advantage on other games, probably more. Wii Sports is a prime example of this. It is the reason that the Wii is dominating hardware sales worldwide, and includes as a mere fifth of its content the greatest bowling sim of all time. I think 76% for Wii Sports and 94% for Twilight Princess is an atrocity, switch those scores and we'll start to talk.



2) I live in NYC, and I have seen first hand how little marketing went into Chinatown Wars. GTA4 posters, billboards, and stickers were everywhere in the city 6 months before its release. I have seen maybe one outdoor ad for Chinatown Wars in the same areas, and that was a week or two before GTA:CW went on sale. If Take-Two wants Chinatown Wars to sell like GTA 4, then they need to pound the pavement like they did for GTA4.



3) Nintendo is right. Games on the DS do have a different sales pattern than games for the 360 for instance. If VG chartz is close, Chinatown Wars's sales are not dropping off like a typical Halo 3 style release. To know how well this game does, we really need to evaluate it in a few months. If sales are 25 to 30k a week in August, it may be slow burning its way to a million or more in the US alone by the first of the year.

Jamie Mann
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Wow... flame on!



@Joe: personally, I don't think Wii Sports is that great a game, but it has that magical "good enough" factor. It's akin to a McDonalds meal: they're far from the best food ever, but are quick, cheap and popular with kids...



@Kevin: I think your analysis is generally spot on (and backed up with hard figures, to boot - it's a nice change!). GTA: CW involves a new game engine (i.e. a new set of media assets) and also has a number of hollywood actors providing voice overs. This is likely to have been fairly expensive: in 2008, Ubisoft indicated that their DS games cost from 0.8 - 1.6 million dollars, so I'd expect GTA:CW to clock in at around the 2 million dollar mark, given the high complexity of the game's design. Nintendo estimate that the average DS game is profitable after 100'000 sales: taking the above, GTA:CW is liable to need somewhere around 250'000 sales to break even.



The two key (and inter-related) questions are: why have the sales been so low and will things pick up?

In 2007, Nintendo stated that 54% of DS owners were female, and 52% were under 14; an Edge article states that as of 2008, over 80% of DS owners are aged under 16. As such, it's reasonable to assume this means a very large segment of the DS demographic is either uninterested in mature gaming or too young to have access to it.



Interestingly, the same article also states that an M-rated FPS game which was released on the DS (Dementium) only sold approximately 70'000 units in total.



(Also, in response to Jerry: GTA has appeared on Nintendo hardware before: GTA2 and Grand Theft Auto Advance appeared respectively on the GBC and GBA. It could be argued that the GTA3 engine could have been ported to the Wii, but I suspect Rockstar would have been wary of the potential for protacted negative publicity, given the aftereffects of the Hot Coffee debacle. As such, the argument that "Rockstar has ignored Nintendo so Nintendo fans are snubbing them" doesn't have any real foundation, though it does make for a nice trolling exercise)



Another issue is that GTA:CW could potentially be seen as a cutdown version of the "real thing" - after the highly detailed 3D world of GTA4, going back to a top-down cartoon world (even with cell shading to spruce things up) is something of a step-back, especially since the PSP releases did manage to offer a 3D engine.



Will things pick up? In the UK GTA:CW has had a high profile advertising campaign (e.g. looping video presentations in a custom advertising board in high street game shops), so it's unlikely that further marketing efforts from Rockstar will help. Word of mouth may help, but I'd expect GTA:CW to fade away as new releases come out.



Rockstar needed to dip their toes into the DS market, but now the experiment's over, I'd expect future efforts to focus on the PSP, PS3 and Xbox 360. It's not a (fully) deliberate move by the company, but Nintendo is not a good arena for mature gaming.

Carl Chavez
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Wow, I never expected my original comment to generate such a flame war. I apologize for my tone in the first post, since it seems have brought out others' flamethrowers. I was attempting to point out that Mr. Creutz claimed there were only two possible outcomes, which is not necessarily true, and I tried to provide some possible alternatives. It seems my tone was too harsh. Again, I apologize. I come to Gamasutra to participate in intelligent discussions, and not in namecalling and shoutdowns. My main beef was (which some regular readers of the comments will recognize) with Mr. Creutz and his tendency to state his opinions as truths when he sometimes doesn't provide enough evidence or arguments to strongly support his claims.


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