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In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, First Half Of 2010
In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, First Half Of 2010
July 28, 2010 | By Ryan Langley

July 28, 2010 | By Ryan Langley
More: Console/PC

[Sister site GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley examines the successes and failures of the past six months of Xbox Live Arcade -- from Toy Soldiers to Darwinia+, as he checks in on Leaderboard statistics over the first half of 2010.]

At the end of 2009, we created a very large list of Leaderboard statistics with over 100 Xbox Live Arcade titles on it. Now that we’re halfway through the year, we’ve done it again – allowing us to see how both the old and new titles have done in the past six months, according to Xbox Live users who've played games and registered on their high score tables.

This sort of information is crucial for publishers and developers alike -- determining the costs of what is still a very young marketplace is still very difficult, and we've been attempting to make it easier for you for nearly two years.

Do note that this does not contain details for all games – titles like Battlefield 1943 and P.B Winterbottom have Leaderboards that we cannot follow, and aren’t included. We've done our best to check as many old and new titles as possible, in the hope that we can clear some of the fog away from the truths and myths about digital distribution.

Sales For The First Half Of 2010

Those that are in red are new titles, and blue are those which have been on sale during this time.


Of the 24 new titles that we followed, only 13 of them gained more than 10,000 players on their Leaderboards – three of them, Voodoo Dice, Ben 10 and Fret Nice, were near or below 1,000 players total.

Only two were able to do over 100,000 – Perfect Dark and Toy Soldiers, both helped by the Xbox Live Block Party promotion. However, RISK: Factions and Snoopy Flying Ace will likely hit the mark by the end of the year. Toy Soldiers added an impressive 338,206 players and Perfect Dark added 264,627.

Other big winners for the year include Trials HD, which added 416,568 new players in 2010 to make up 1,061,148 players total – crossing the million-players line that so few have reached. The DLC also added 176,085 players this year, making it the best-selling DLC for a downloadable game that we're aware of.

The never-stopping Castle Crashers added 295,497 players in 2010, and now has 1,740,293 in total, and Splosion Man added an extra 100,000 players this year as well, and scooted over 300,000 players since its release.

Some additional milestones were also hit -- A Kingdom for Keflings crossed 400,000 players during 2010 now with a total of 430,000 players, as did Geometry Wars 2 now with 401,742 players -- N+ is very close to the mark too. Last year's Summer of Arcade hit TMNT Re-Shelled hit 300,000 players and Shadow Complex will also be hitting 500,000 very soon. Capcom's 1942: Joint Strike was able to push past 100,000 players, alongside Defense Grid.

On the other had, there were 13 games, both old and new, that sold less than 1,000 copies in 6 months. Jeff Minter’s Space Giraffe only added 532 players since January, and plenty more added less than 5,000 players.

The “long tail” of digital distribution isn’t a particularly truthful way of describing Xbox Live Arcade – there’s unlimited shelf space, but that doesn’t mean that people are buying old games consistently. Microsoft has begun to get very vigorous about sales on older titles, but a lot of the games on sale, like Braid and Shadow Complex, already sold a boatload anyhow.

There are still so many old games that have continued to be available for $10, when they perhaps should be made cheaper now to get more active players. Poker Smash, Death Tank and the like could do with a price cut – we see it all the time on Steam and the PlayStation Network, and it would be nice to see Microsoft play along too.

We will continue on in another 6 months for a full year roundup of Xbox Live Arcade titles -- including the new Summer of Arcade and a ton more games coming from a variety of publishers.

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Abraham Tatester
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Just a suggestion, but how about sorting the list by something other than alphabetical order? Being able to see which games would be at the top for "End of June 2010" would be a bit more informative/helpful to your readers. Thanks.

Mark Raymond
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"There are still so many old games that have continued to be available for $10, when they perhaps should be made cheaper now to get more active players." Hear hear! ;)

Mark Morrison
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@ abraham, it would be nice to get an actual file that can be re-prioritized the way you mentioned. i emailed gamerbyte about this. feel free to do the same. they are the creators of this list, not gamasutra.

Adam Flutie
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@Mark - I agree. The fact Digital content never seems to go on sale is still the deal breaker for me to care for it. World of Goo, Portal (Still alive), etc all started high, but have all gone through times of being free to generate interest and such. Why do DL games never do so? or even drop in price? Annoying enough to make me hope the method of delivery dies off actually.

Benjamin Quintero
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Older titles simply need more exposure. This is made abundantly clear when any promotion appears to double or triple purchases of a game that has fallen off of the radar. As powerful as XBox Live is, it's falling behind when Steam is showing weekly deals, promotions that change daily, and a constant cycle of bundle sales.

XBLA and XBLIG both suffer from the same neglect. I don't understand why they can't pay an engineer for 40 hours to add alternate queries; "top rated", "top selling", "picks of the day", "oldie but goodie", "greatest hits (top of all time)", "new releases", "what people are playing (based on leader boards)", "recent price drop", "recently updated", etc.. Unless someone forgot to put the raw numbers into a database, and they are parsing these by hand, in notepad, I am having trouble understanding the reason behind not having these alternate lists.

Someone, enlighten me... Is it really just neglect, or conspiracy? I prefer the latter, it sounds more devious than plain stupidity.