[In this analysis, editor Ryan Langley of Gamasutra sister site GamerBytes examines January 2010's PlayStation Network debuts and continuing successes, using charts and leaderboard data to find out which PSN titles are doing well at the start of the year.]
Sony's PlayStation Network kicked off the new year with several new titles for download, including Hijinx Studios' RPG prequel Vandal Hearts: Flames Of Judgement, Gust's sidescrolling shooter successor Thexder Neo, VooFoo Studios' pool Hustle Kings, and more.
This month, we were unfortunately unable to obtain monthly top 10 sales data directly from Sony Computer Entertainment, but we do have access to a great deal of leaderboard ranking data, which allows us to examine January's new releases -- as well as other games that sold over the course of the month.
Time To Hustle
Of the five new releases this month, we’ve only been able to follow two of them easily. Vandal Hearts: Flames Of Judgment does not have leaderboards, despite their mandatory inclusion in the Xbox Live Arcade version; Matt Hazard, like its Xbox Live Arcade version, has unreliable statistics, and unfortunately we were not able to look at Thexder Neo at all.
Out of the two we were able to check, Hustle Kings has done remarkably well for a snooker/pool game, selling over 39,000 units. Note that this does include European players as well, and as of January 14 there were 26,000 players on the leaderboards from the European release alone -– so the few days of a U.S. release, coupled with the rest of the month for Europe, demonstrate strong sales for this game.
Assault Heroes was able to grab only 754 players after a week and a half of being available. That's not a lot, but it might stand to reason -- it's a port of a four-year-old game at twice the price at which it's available everywhere else. That isn't very enticing.
10 For ‘10
On January 22, the U.S. version of the PlayStation Store had a "10 for '10" sale, which had Gravity Crash, Critter Crunch, Braid, Tank Battles and UNO sell at half-price for a week. Needless to say, this sale did well for all of these titles.
In particular, Critter Crunch managed to add over 17,000 new players for January, and Braid nearly doubled its previous leaderboard total with 20,000 new players. UNO’s sale made the game jump enormously, gaining 87,000 new players in just a few weeks, and that’s just based on the ranked online Leaderboards; actual sales are likely to be much higher.
Digger HD was on sale in Europe for the final week of the month, and the game ended up adding nearly 4,000 for the month. That's not a whole lot, but the game is still going strong on balance. Creat Studio’s Mushroom Wars also added 6,500 new players in January, an improvement over its December performance.
Shatter performed a similar feat, racking up 5,597 extra entries in December and 5,472 in January. We claimed last month that while PSN games don’t tend to do as well as well as Xbox Live Arcade games out of the gate, they tend to do better in month-to-month comparisons than Xbox Live Arcade titles do, possibly due to higher-profile promotions and fewer games to choose from overall. More evidence for that theory comes from Super Stardust, which is doing quite well years after its release.