[GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley examines PlayStation Network's debuts and successes during November-December 2010 and last year as a whole, using leaderboard and chart data to analyze how they're doing.]
We've been a bit behind for the past couple of months for PlayStation Store statistics, but we're here to make amends. With releases like Pac-Man Championship Edition, Spelunker HD and Dead Nation, PSN was at the top of its game during November and December.
We take a look at what we could get a hold of to see how well they've sold based on Leaderboard data, in order to get some kind of idea of what makes the PlayStation Network tick -- and what we can expect in the future.
Way Too Many Games
Before we begin, we'd like to point out that any numbers we've written here in green are not entirely from November and December -- they also include two weeks of January in their statistics.
We were unfortunately unable to get them day-and-date with the end of the year like others, but we've tried to bring you the best stats we can get -- apologies.
Over November and December, 29 new games were released on PlayStation Network -- and that’s not even counting the 11 Neo Geo games also released on the platform. The majority of these games, however, have absolutely no leaderboard support, or badly support it.
Games like RISK Factions only show the top 100 people total within the game, while games like Hoard and Echochrome II show no leaderboards at all. Unfortunately, this inconsistency makes it difficult to help you, the reader, understand sales in the Store -- but we do the best we can:
Of the games we could follow, the first releases were 3D Ultra Minigolf 2, Crazy Taxi and Sky Fighter on the 16th of November. Of the three, Sega’s arcade classic was the definite winner, with over 37,779 players showing up on the Arcade Leaderboards since its release. This is much better than Sonic Adventure, which has only shown 19,804 players since its release in September.
Both A2M's 3D Ultra Minigolf 2 and TikGames/Creat's Sky Fighter show very few players on their Leaderboards -- 1,750 and 3,887 respectively. Sky Fighter had a few sales prior, since it was released in Europe a few weeks earlier in November.
The next games were Pac-Man Championship Edition DX and Spelunker HD. This is the first time that Pac-Man has ever appeared on the PlayStation Network, which is kind of crazy to think about, and Spelunker was finally released in the States a year and a half after the Japanese release.
Namco's Pac-Man CE DX sold 48,000+ copies during this time. It’s believed that 48,000 is the “ceiling” for the game's Leaderboards, meaning it can’t show any more high scores than that. Still, even with this number, this is a great start and is similar to the XBLA version.
Irem's Spelunker HD, on the other hand, seems to have tripped over itself while trying to get any name recognition, as only 5,289 players are on the leaderboards at this point.
Not So Dead
Housemarque finally released the company's long-awaited zombie action title Dead Nation onto the PlayStation Network on November 30th, alongside Hydravision's Funky Lab Rat.
For those two months, Dead Nation garnered over 100,000 players, a real feat for PSN, and something we haven’t seen in quite a while.
I highly doubt it was intended, but both X-Men Arcade and Marvel Pinball both made it onto the PlayStation Network on the same day. Talk about brand synergy!
X-Men Arcade only shows the top 10,000 players -- but at the very least it has hit that milestone. Marvel Pinball shows that 19,370 players bought the game, which is not bad for a little over two weeks. The XBLA version, part of the Pinball FX 2 downloadable content, did around 30,000 in a similar time frame.
The final two new releases were Eat Them! by Fluffylogic, and Tetris HD. Tetris was only released in Europe for this time, but since we included two weeks into January 2011 for our stats, the U.S. release was also included in our data.
During the first few weeks after its release, Eat Them! garnered 15,798 players on the leaderboards. Tetris, despite being such a big name, only added 29,222 players.
The numbers for Eat Them! are quite low, likely thanks to the game being released alongside 16 other PSN titles for that week, including retro titles. Thanks to this and its December 21st release date it was probably ignored, and it also doesn’t help to have a low Metacritic rating.
Tetris' numbers seem low considering the features included in the new version -- it has a high score on Metacritic, but has few reviews. It’s a shame, and makes me think that these sorts of puzzle games might not be best suited to this kind of console anymore.
Others Games And Sales
Here we have a list of games that we can still follow to this day – games that have working leaderboards that still work after being topped.
One thing I’d like to apologize for is Zombie's Blacklight: Tango Down. We initially mentioned that these statistics were for sales –- rather, those statistics are for all players who have played the game –- both the trial and the full version. We apologize for this incorrect assumption. The actual sales would be far lower than this.
There were a ton of games on sale during this period, but only two we could follow: the original Deathspank and Sonic Adventure, both not really showing any sort of difference in sales over the period. Sonic Adventure is pretty interesting as it seems to be doing quite poorly on PSN, while the XBLA version is up around 85,000 players.
The PlayStation Plus Promotion
Throughout this period, one game was part of the PlayStation Plus promotion that we can follow –- Sidhe’s Shatter. It was part of the promotion from November 16th to December 14th in the U.S. only. During this time, along with any regular sales, the game added 49,296 players.
Since the game updates its Leaderboards regularly, and has Leaderboards that work, it would mean that significantly less than 49K people are part of the PlayStation Plus in America and were interested enough to grab the game. Shatter is part of the promotion during January in Europe, so we can also see how it does there.
Games For All Of 2010
This is a far shorter list than the one seen in the Xbox Live Arcade sales analysis, but shows off all of the games together, along with how well they’ve done throughout 2010. Unfortunately, there are far more games released this year than ones included on this list, but we’ve just got no way to actually follow their sales.
This is not an accurate representation of how well all games sell on PSN -- just the ones we can follow! PixelJunk Shooter, for example, only shows 50,000 players, and Costume Quest shows nothing at all.
There are a fair few games that have done reasonably well on PlayStation Network; Critter Crunch, Mushroom Wars and Super Stardust HD have done quite well for games that came out in 2009 or prior, perhaps including some PSN+ downloads, though. But new games like DeathSpank and Dead Nation have hit the ground running too.
Deathspank specifically has the extra benefit of being on multiple platforms, which would boost revenue quite a bit. Castle Crashers also did well considering it’s a few years old on XBLA, but it doesn’t seem to have sold ridiculous amounts either.
It seems like most games on PlayStation Network struggle even to reach 50,000 copies -- none of the games we were able to follow were even able to reach half a million in total ever.
We'll be back on track during 2011, going through games in detail each month for analysis. Hopefully more PSN titles start implementing real leaderboard solutions and have them actually work -- it's not just a pain for me, but for games like Pac-Man CE DX that thrive on leaderboard implementation, it really should be a requirement.
In January we'll see the likes of Modern Combat: Domination, Ricochet HD and more on PSN, so stay tuned.