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Analyze This: Looking Back at the Year in Gaming 2008
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Analyze This: Looking Back at the Year in Gaming 2008

December 18, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

Jesse Divnich, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research:

Hits and misses of 2008...

Wii Fit was one of the most successfully innovative products of 2008. Nintendo took a substantial risk in developing a product that targeted both the casual and core sector of the industry. That risk definitely paid off, as even today, six months after its release, it is one of the hottest items on retail shelves.

Guitar Hero: On Tour was another title that beat the market's expectations. Activision managed to take the Guitar Hero franchise, shrink it, and implement it on the Nintendo DS.

Other surprise hits include Army of Two, Crisis Core, Braid, and World of Goo.

The list of surprise hits is relatively small, but our industry has matured so much over the years that "sleeper" hits are becoming less common. With an endless stream of research available, most publishers can spot, months in advance, if any of their titles are going to out-perform initial expectations.

By the time a game is released, it generally has a marketing budget and the hype to match its sales performance.

2D Boy's World of Goo

In terms of surprise failures. Mirror's Edge certainly did not live up to the hype, but I would not necessarily classify the title as a complete failure. EA is not the first publisher that comes to mind when we think of innovation, but Mirror's Edge is a perfect example of how EA is hoping to change that perception. It certainly was an experiment that failed, but the fact they are experimenting will certainly one day lead to tremendous success in the market.

Guitar Hero: World Tour is another title that failed to deliver to expectations. While it did deliver some new game features and expanded on the original recipe of the Guitar Hero franchise, it is pretty clear that the popularity of the musical instrument sub-genre has reached its peak. Nonetheless, I still expect strong sales from Guitar Hero: World Tour, but sales will be nowhere near that of Guitar Hero III.

Other surprise failures this year include: Shaun White Snowboarding, Too Human, Boom Blox, and de Blob, all of which were new intellectual properties that had a lot of hype and marketing behind them.

How all the platforms performed in the market in 2008...

The Xbox 360's performance in the back-half of 2008 certainly surprised most industry watchers. The Xbox 360 hit a sweet spot with both pricing and promotion in the later months of 2008.

The economic crisis played an equally large role in driving sales as well. With consumers unwilling to give up their right to be entertained, the price cuts in the back-half of 2008 helped position the Xbox 360 as being the best value console for the core gaming market.

The PSP was the console that most disappointed the market in 2008. Its lack of strong third-party support, a non-diversified software library, and a higher price point all played a role in delivering a lackluster sales performance in the U.S.

Lessons learned in 2008 that could change things in 2009...

The biggest lesson learned in 2008 was the ability for AAA titles to perform at holiday sales level during the off-season. Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Wii Fit, Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Mario Kart Wii are all prime examples of how a AAA title can be successfully released during the off-season.

Conversely, Dead Space, Far Cry 2, Mirror's Edge, Saints Row 2, Resistance 2, LittleBigPlanet, and Fallout 3 are all examples of what happens when too many AAA titles are congested into two months of the year. Each one of these titles would have sold significantly more if released in an off-season month.

This subject has undoubtedly been a recurring theme since 2005, and I can only hope that the industry has finally realized the risk is minimal for releasing a AAA title during the off-season.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

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