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OTX:  MadWorld  Demonstrates Tenuous Link Between Web Hype And Sales
OTX: MadWorld Demonstrates Tenuous Link Between Web Hype And Sales Exclusive
April 29, 2009 | By Chris Remo

April 29, 2009 | By Chris Remo
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    18 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



There has been a great deal of speculation about the underwhelming retail performance of PlatinumGames' MadWorld, but now research firm OTX's business intelligence tool GamePlan Insights shows detailed data illustrating the often-thin correlation between online acclaim and real-world retail success, particularly on the Wii platform.

As demonstrated by OTX Gaming Insights director Nick Williams at the Los Angeles Game Conference, with slides made available to Gamasutra, the game's strong awareness among the hardcore online gaming community bore little relationship with its weak awareness among the wider gaming public.

For example, from January to March, the tracking metrics used by major consumer gaming site IGN.com pegged the bloody brawler as the Wii game with the highest level of unique interest, and by extension purchase intent.

(Sega, MadWorld's publisher, did make the top ten with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. And there is generally encouraging news for third parties: Only one Nintendo-published title made the cut, Wii Sports Resort at number one.)

But the GamePlan data from the same period, polling gamers across different demographics, placed MadWorld at a dismal number 41. The company says it surveys 1,000 gamers on a weekly basis, tracking 400 games at any given time.

According to OTX's research, the ten Wii games with the highest purchase intent were exclusively music games, casual sports games, and puzzle games, with the only exception being LucasArts' Star Wars: The Clone Wars -- Lightsaber Duels.


MadWorld also received extremely high review scores from a number of major gaming publications, and averaged in the 80s on both Metacritic and GameRankings -- frequently used as internal metrics by publishers.

The game ended up selling only 66,000 copies in the United States, according to retail tracking firm NPD; OTX determined that just under eight percent of Wii owners had heard of the game.

Interestingly, MadWorld's preorder intent -- that is, the percentage of those already interested in the game who have committed to putting down money in advance -- was 12.2 percent, considerably higher than the top ten Wii games with much higher overall awareness.

That behavior is in line with that of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers, who also tend to have relatively high preorder intent, possibly pointing to a mismatch between the game's potential audience and its platform.

Williams concludes that the Wii user base has expanded to the point that it is not particularly represented by the audience of major gaming sites, which tend to be geared towards the more dedicated audience. But in broader terms, he noted that the example points to a problem with that kind of group-specific research. "Web analytics tools are only as accurate as the editorial content and user base," he said.


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Comments


Peter Dwyer
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It could just be that gamers don't actually believe the hype anymore. Too many shady review scores have definitely lead to people taking them with a pinch of salt. I think that we are simply seeing the results of too much misleading hype.



Speaking for myself. I know that I no longer buy anything based on the hype it gets from sites such as eurogamer or IGN. I simply don't believe that their reviewers are honest or in some cases (GTA IV) have even played the game at all.

Bertil Hörberg
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Isn't it time to stop using Madworld as a basis for all analysises soon? It's an original IP with very low mass market appeal and it sold pretty well under the circumstances. The internet gaming community hypes new unique titles but they are never the majority on any platform, nor do they all buy all niche titles.

Richard Cody
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Who hyped this game other than websites and magazines? It was a huge gory mess. The gameplay and story were fine but the way it highlighted violence was disturbing to me. The Conduit will sell, it isn't grossing people out yet is mature. Madworld I never really felt had the chance because of all the restraints it put on itself.

Bob McIntyre
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Peter, with you about IGN. I don't even read their reviews, and I actively try to forget or at least disregard anything I hear that came from them. Also, GameSpot's firing of Jeff Gerstmann, apparently for giving Kane & Lynch a low score, sealed it for them. On the other hand, Jeff's own site, Giant Bomb, seems pretty decent. But there seems to be a second language, written between the lines of different reviews, that can get you an accurate picture. That's a ridiculous process, though, and it might require the knowledge of a professional developer to tell when a crap game is getting high scores based on "reading between the lines" and reading many reviews. Plus it's a lot of effort.

Yannick Boucher
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Got LOTS to say about this, so I'm gonna try to not be all over the place too much. Firstly, major kudos to PlatinumGames and Sega for taking that HUGE chance. We all knew it was either gonna be a breakaway hit, or a relative dud. I wouldn't write it off just yet though, because as we've seen in other recent analyses, sales on Wii and DS don't seem to be as dependent on the first month as on other systems. But even if the trend remains, at least both PG and Sega will have raised their credentials again within the hardcore crowd, and that in itself isn't worthless.



Now, the way I see it is that hardcore gamers all have the game on their list, but they'd rather be playing their 360s and PS3s in HD, and therefore MadWorld gets trumped by other games on those 2 platforms. As for the "casual" Wii crowd, they simply don't know about this game, and it was never intended for them anyways.



So what does this all mean? If neither casual nor hardcore efforts from 3rd parties can make it on the Wii, it means Nintendo has painted themselves into a corner AGAIN, and they're gonna end up playing by themselves AGAIN. It's becoming increasingly clear that the installed user base of Wiis shouldn't be considered the same way as other systems: people buy Wiis for Wii Sports, and Wii Fit, play 2-3 months, then put it in the closet until the next party; this is getting clearer and clearer. The literal NOSEDIVE of Wii sales in Japan is starting to show this, and we can expect the same to happen elsewhere soon enough. Is it Nintendo's fault? I don't know. They do have a reputation that precedes them, and that has it's good and bad sides.



In any case, let's not write MadWorld off just yet (and Sega DID say that sales of HOTD Overkill were good), but if the current situation is any indication, publishers may soon choose to give up altogether. (which may not be a bad thing in the end).

Carlos Obregon
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Why we tend to forget that Red Steel sold 1M+ units? Or that Call of Duty: World at War on Wii have sold pretty well month by month? Or that No More Heroes is having a sequel?



I think hardcore games have an audience on Wii which is growing slowly but steadily.



We will have to see how long can MadWorld sell to see if it's really a failure.

Yannick Boucher
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Red Steel sold 1M+ 'cause it was the ONLY GAME OUT ! :P CoD WaW, define "pretty well" ? i don't remember seeing a breakdown of the global figure just for the Wii. No More Heroes having a sequel ? Details are sketchy at best right now...

E Zachary Knight
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I was under the impression that the vast majority of people interested in purchasing and playing Madworld have either sold their Wii or forgot about due to the huge pile of dust covering it from view. So if the hardcore gamers either don't have a Wii or don't realize they have one, who is supposed to buy it?



Bill,



The Conduit is going for a T rating and will not be showing the gory bits like Madworld does. I am looking forward to the Conduit as I think the Wii after the PC is the best platform for FPS games and I think it will knock the pants off of any FPS on the PS3 or 360 from a gameplay perspective.



I also love that you are one of those people that think that just because a game doesn't come in 1080p HD, it is crap. I laugh at all the people and their goldfish like memories. "What? We had fun with games before this generation? You make no sense?"



Yannick,



Has it ever occurred to you that Wii sales in Japan have taken a dive because demand has peaked and is leveling off like any console does. The Wii is now at a stable conjunction of supply and demand even here in the US I have been able to walk into a store for the past 3 weeks and find a bunch of Wiis ready to be bought.

Yannick Boucher
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Ephriam, it's not that "it's not HD" that breaks the deal. It's the fact that SD on an HD tv looks like crap. Once you jump in, you can't turn back. But if you can keep your Wii hooked on to your CRT tv, all the better. But that probably means it's not at the center of your living room, and therefore you might not play it as often, and therefore you might not buy as many games for it.



As for the demand peaking.... 2.5 years after release, really ?? Seems a bit premature to me. Wouldn't that be indicative of something? I'd keep my negative prognosis (especially if you compare it to DS or PS2 sales stats over the same period, therefore there's obviously room for growth). And since Iwata said he personally didn't believe a price cut would boost sales (and it's not like they couldn't afford it), there's obviously more than meets the eye there.

Aaron Casillas
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I personally rent before I buy.

E Zachary Knight
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Yannick,



When I said that demand has peaked, I mean that the vast majority of those who wanted one right away have now got one. Now it is time for those who have waited to get one. Demand has leveled off to a normal rate of demand. It will see some increase as new games come out that people want (ie Monster Hunter 3) but between such events, it will sell at a rate similar to the PS3 and 360 do between hot releases.



Bill,



Didn't mean to get your goat about HD. It just seemed that you were attacking the Conduit based solely on graphics. The way your said it "looks like a first generation XBOX1 game" came across that way.



Personally, I will be getting the Conduit as I am not a huge FPS fan, nor do I own a PS3 or 360. I do like the occasional FPS but not normally off of the PC. I really like the Wii remote and how it so easily simulates a mouse on a console. I have played FPS games on both the PS3 and 360 and don't do nearly as well as I do on a PC. But I guess if someone plays FPS games on a regular basis, I can see why the Conduit might not be appealing.



As for my "automatic assault of graphical fidelity", I never said that visual stimulus was unnecessary in gaming. I happen to like visually pleasing games as well. I just don't think that HD graphics are important. I have seen some pretty ugly games on all platforms as well as some really nice looking ones. But for the most part, I am not impressed with the addition of HD.



AS for the Wii being the "worst system in terms of software, period", that is something that you will have to take up with 3rd party devs. They are the ones responsible for this mess. Had they not started out with nothing but shovelware, these new gamers who bought the Wii might have been more willing to buy more games. If they bought more games, we would get more great games for it. This isn't some chicken and egg situation, this is the 3rd party devs problem.

Christopher Kaminski
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This is all curious stuff. Personally, I find it rewarding that so many people still have an opinion about MadWorld and find it worthwhile to talk about. That's more than a lot of people ever get.



I look at it this way: Many folks like to pretend there is a science to creating entertainment that is both creative and financially successful. Sometimes I wish that were true. It would be nice to have a blueprint. Wouldn't it be neat to have a color-by-numbers kit that would ensure fame, fortune, and critical acclaim. Making a living through entertainment is tricky sometimes. It's a common conundrum that everyone in entertainment grapples with. Hollywood, Broadway, musicians, and writers all want to make a living by creating something worth talking about.



Which brings me back to my original point: thanks for talking about MadWorld.

Tom Krausse
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@Bob

I'll agree that the Wiimote hasn't really lived up to its potential in a lot of genres. Shooters are not one of them. Pointing at a target just feels so much better than anything dual analog can do. FPS's on Wii do not have "waggle", and your earlier dismissal of Conduit as having waggle controls doesn't make sense. All the reports I've read (and I've followed the game for a while) say the controls are instinctive, and that waggle is no where to be found. Your dismissal sounds more like system bashing than anything related to the game.



And as for software library's, that's a matter of opinion. Personally, I haven't found anything that would allow me to justify buying a 360 or PS3, but I have a dozen titles for my Wii, none of which I regret. For me, the Wii has the strongest library, but again, to me. Please refrain from mixing opinions and facts.

E Zachary Knight
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"The bottom line is that not every game needs waggle"



I agree with you there. There are some games that don't need it and some that have it that really shouldn't. But I think that line of thought comes from this being a new method of input. It would be nice if more games offered different control schemes.



Personally, I think the pointer interface of the Wii remote is the biggest draw to the system. It brings that mouse like interface to a console. The motion controls are great if the developer knows what they are doing with it and what they are doing is intuitive to the player.



I'll have to get back to you on 3rd party support.

Kevin Dolby
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*Sigh*

Gamasutra is turning into just another game site with fanboys arguing over nothing.

This site was doing so well too for so long, but I guess all good things come to an end eventually.



Please do not post a comment unless you really have something to ADD to the discussion. I know that I am breaking my own request by posting this but I felt it was needed. There are some good posts but lets try to keep Gamasutra above the rest with quality, decent comments that foster discussion and not just start arguments. Thanks :)

Bob Stevens
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Is it really fair to point to "web hype" here? I guess it got a couple good reviews, but only 8% of the people who own the console are aware of its existence. I didn't know about it until its failure at retail became a big deal.



Maybe there's a less-than-tenuous link between lack of marketing and poor sales?

Daniel Pharos
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I think that the core gamer is so disappointed with the Wii's range of games, that they avoid the platform in general. Afterwards, they say in forums "Madworld, great, that's a nice change". Then don't buy it. I loved everything with Nintendo on it since NES, but I don't have a Wii. I will get one for education in the end, but the butt-ugly graphics I see on TV and the dumbed-down games very effectively repel me. Wii Sports and Wii Music ads are painul. And I do like cute games, and graphics are not high on my list. A cool game now is not enough to erase the last 50 games from my memory. It would need a major change of direction.

Paopao Saul
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IMHO, this is quite interesting data. It further supports what the majority of us think of the Wii demographic: most of them are not like us when it comes to their behavior towards gaming and game purchases. With madworld having the higher pre-order intent of the other top 10 Wii games at that time, the hardcore gamers for the Wii certainly knew it was coming. The problem for madworld was that the much larger userbase was not aware of this, or did not want the game as they were not the targets for this. IMHO, of course.


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