[Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines June 2011's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes, with charts and Leaderboard data showing the performance of XBLA titles from Trenched to Magic 2012.]
Despite the first two weeks of June having zero new Xbox Live Arcade titles, the month was surprisingly packed with new games -- seven titles were released during the month, and it proved to be one of the best months of games we've had in a while, with five titles hitting a review score average of more than 75 on Metacritic.
But does quality mean sales? One would hope so, but it's not that easy. We take a look back at the past month to determine the highlights and lowlights of the month.
We have a look at Leaderboard statistics and determine what went right or wrong for the latest games, older titles on sale, and downloadable content.
The Magic Of Shuggy
After the two weeks of quiet, the week of June 13th brought two new games to the XBLA marketplace. The first game we'll be looking at is The Adventures of Shuggy, a puzzle platformer from Smudged Cat Games and publisher Valcon Games. The game was originally set for Xbox Live Indie Games but was picked up by Valcon after it saw some promise.
While it has reviewed very well, with the second highest Metacritic rating for the month, the game hasn't fared well sales-wise, with only 1,261 players in the first week for a total of 2,594 players on the Leaderboards for the month.
Not a good start for the publisher or the developer, to the point that Smudged Cat Games admitted to slow sales via a humorous press release.
Magic The Gathering 2012, on the other hand, sold tremendously. The first Magic game also sold well, with 500,000 sales in the first six months, but we were never able to track the game via Leaderboards. The sequel has added 83,625 players in its first week, and 134,377 for the month. That is roughly the same as most Summer of Arcade titles, including Monday Night Combat, TMNT Re-Shelled, and Splosion Man.
The Fury Of Trenched
The week of June 20th brought us both the best and worst rated games of the month. The release of Double Fine's Trenched was hailed by critics as a fun, action-based tower defense game that gets even better with online multiplayer, garnering it a Metacritic verage of 85.
The game was the second best-selling release of the month with 39,443 players in the first week, and 60,267 for the month. However, it was hindered in some countries around the world -- you cannot buy the game in large parts of Europe due to a trademark issue. Hopefully, the game can get released as soon as possible there, and see the sales it deserves.
The second title was Lucha Fury, a four-player brawler based around characters with Lucha Libre masks. All but one of the reviews have given the game a 40 or less score on Metacritic. They cite that while graphically it looks fine, the gameplay is sorely lacking, and is now considered the fifth worst title on XBLA by Metacritic. The game has only added 2,826 players to the Leaderboards in two weeks.
Older Games Get Downloadable Makeover
The final week for the month had three new releases -- Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Edition, Backbreaker: Vengeance, and Galaga Legions DX.
Half-Minute Hero was the best selling of the three, and the third best-traded game on Metacritic with 77. It added 10,945 players in the one week we followed, which isn't particularly great, but the title could see some legs with good reviews.
Backbreaker: Vengeance came in with a 1200MSP price point, using the great Natural Motion engine to create an arcade-style game around American Football. This one added only 5,364 players in its first week, but as it's more expensive, it could see a resurgence with deals further on in its life.
Galaga Legions DX follows the fantastic release of Pac-Man CE DX from last year, and greatly improved from the original Galaga Legions title. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have helped the game much, with only 5,992 players added in the first week. Some may have been put off by the original, and therefore didn't check out this title. Pac-Man is also a much more well known icon than this space bug shooter. Hopefully, Namco's next title, Metro Cross, can find an audience.
PopCap And Sega Do The Deals
For the last two weeks of the month, we were able to follow games that were a part of the Deal Of The Week. Popcap made all its games come in at half their usual prices, and promoted a special on its latest title Bejeweled Blitz Live, which dropped 80 percent off the price. The game had the best sales with 13,608 players, while Peggle came in second with 13,015 players, and has hit over 650,000 players in general.
The same week was Sonic The Hedgehog's "Birthday", which had all the Sonic games hit half price. All the titles did pretty well, but they have also been some of the most discounted games on the marketplace, causing it to be less effective than before.
The final week of the month had many titles that had previously been part of other promotions -- Comic Jumper, Hard Corps: Uprising, and Lara Croft. Each game did better than it had previously, but the discounts didn't cause much of a sales surge.
The First Avenger
Pinball FX 2 still does very well with its downloadable releases, and it continues with its latest table for Captain America. The table has added 12,912 new players in the first week, which is around 2,000 more than its previous release of Fantastic Four. The game will adding to its offering again for July with a table based on Ms. Splosion Man.
All other tables are doing great, as are the Trials HD DLC packs, which continue to add 1-2,000 new players each week.
We've also continued to follow several other releases from months back -- including Castle Crashers, which added another 57,000 players; Full House Poker, which added another 39,000 players; and Limbo, which added 22,161 players.
One thing I would like to add is the sales potential of last month's release Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale. Despite a Metacritic rating of 47, the game has apparently done very well for itself. For the weeks of June 6th and June 13th, the game was one of the top-sellers. It appears people really wanted an online, cooperative dungeon crawler, no matter what the quality was.
The month of July already has a few big hitters -- Ms. Splosion Man for one, as well as the beginning of the Summer of Arcade campaign with Bastion and From Dust. Hopefully, this year's Summer of Arcade lives up to the previous iterations.