[Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines February 2012's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes, with charts and Leaderboard data showing the performance of titles like The Simpsons Arcade, Gotham City Imposters, and Happy Action Theater]
For the third year in a row, Microsoft has used February as a time to promote new titles for Xbox Live Arcade with its "House Party" campaign -- four or five games are added to the marketplace over several weeks, promoting the best the market has to offer at the time.
This year we've started off with Trapdoor's Warp and Remedy's Alan Wake: American Nightmare. How well can they hold up compared to previous games like Toy Soldiers and Perfect Dark from previous years?
We've pieced together leaderboard statistics and Metacritic ratings from all new titles in February, allowing us to determine what went right or wrong for the newest games, older titles, and downloadable content.
The first week of February included three titles, Double Fine's Kinect plaything Happy Action Theater, and two from Konami -- the classic Simpsons Arcade Game and Rhythm Party, a dancing game.
We were only able to follow one game, The Simpsons, which gained 17,909 players in the first week, and 35,868 for the month. According to Major Nelson's statistics, it was the best-selling game of its week. Not too surprising -- the game is one that a lot of classic Arcade players have nostalgia for, so it's easy to see how this could have sold well.
The two other titles had no Leaderboards we could follow, but Happy Action Theater hit seventh place in the Top 20 in its first week, while Rhythm Party didn't hit the Top 20 at all. Happy Action Theater also had the best Metacritic scores for the month while Rhythm Party only garnered two reviews in total. There was little to no promotion for Rhythm Party, so it's no surprise that it fell flat.
[Update: Microsoft representitives have contacted me regarding the Alan Wake: American Nightmare numbers. While not being specific, they suggested that the sales were roughly double that than we have suggested. This would be thanks to the game only adding up the numbers once a player has completed that chapter -- it's not instantaneous. Sorry for any confusion!]
The second week brought two new titles to the table, Klei Entertainment's sequel to Shank, and Gotham City Imposters, the latter of which is a downloadable shooter based on DC Comics' Batman franchise.
Shank 2 didn't see a lot of success on the platform despite good review scores, with 11,405 players in the first week for a total of 20,879 for the month. Gotham City Imposters was a big hit, however, adding 52,332 players in the first week and 108,064 for the month -- a massive success for the guys at Monolith and Warner Bros.
Warp Into the House Party!
Microsoft's House Party promotion began with Warp, developed by Trapdoor and published by Electronic Arts. Despite the promotion, Warp did not see a lot of sales -- 11,010 players in the first week, for a total of 17,682 for the month. Major Nelson's Top 20 list sets the game as being third in its opening week, behind Gotham City Imposters and Pinball FX 2.
The final week saw Alan Wake: American Nightmare, an offshoot of the retail title and developed by Remedy Entertainment. The game added 27,558 players in its first week, which is overall pretty good for an Xbox Live Arcade title, though still much lower than most games pushed by the House Party promotion in previous years.
Just one piece of new downloadable content this month: Pinball FX 2's Epic Quest board. It ended up adding 7,920 players in the first week, which is less than most normal new boards, but still pretty good overall. Pinball FX 2 and Trials HD continue to sell extraordinarily well considering their age.
Kinecting To A Million Players
Fruit Ninja Kinect (created by my employer, Halfbrick Studios) made history this month by being one of the few XBLA games to ever crack a million players, and the first to do so with the Kinect peripheral as a requirement. Dungeon Defender, Castle Crashers, Limbo, and Full House Poker still continue to do well each week.
Continue To Party
March brings us several new games to look forward to: I Am Alive, Shoot Many Robots, Rayman 3 HD and The Pinball Arcade. It's quite a busy month overall, alongside a busy retail month.