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In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, First Half Of 2011

In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, First Half Of 2011

July 22, 2011 | By Ryan Langley

[Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines the first six months of 2011's Xbox Live arcade sales, pointing out the big-selling, promoted titles, poorly reviewed releases that people bought anyway, and and more.]

Alongside our analysis of June's Xbox Live Arcade sales, we have also looked back at the the past half of the year to see how well the latest titles have sold.

This list details the Metacritic rating of each title, and the Leaderboard statistics if they were available to us. Unlike last year, when we went through up to 150 Xbox Live Arcade titles in the first half of the year, this year we will only be doing so once the year is over.

We've tried to follow as many games as possible -- some game are not included because they have no Leaderboards, or Leaderboards that have limited information. For those not included, we do have their Metacritic ratings at the very least.

Games Of The Holidays

The first games we can look at are those of the first Xbox Live promotion for the year - the "Games Of The Holidays", released at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. The promotion featured three titles -- NinjaBee's A World Of Keflings, Halfbrick's Raskulls, and Southend Interactive'sIlomilo.

Of the three, it's quite clear that A World For Keflings got the most players. Off the back of the original title, which itself sold over half a million copies, it has itself added 185,000 to the Leaderboards since its release.

Raskulls was the second to release, but of the three it had the fewest players. It's performance was far from bad, mind you -- 87,000 is still far more than most Xbox Live Arcade games sell. Ilomilo was able to grab 132,000 players, but its DLC was only able to get 6,968 players, a very small percentage.

xblanewgamesfirsthalf2011.jpgHouse Par-tay

The second XBLA promotion of the year, House Party, began in February and included Hard Corps: Uprising, Bejeweled Blitz Live, Beyond Good & Evil HD, Torchlight, and Full House Poker. The clear winner for the promotion was Full House Poker, which from our analysis has been the best-seller for the year. It has added 321,533 players since its release, clearly due to a winning use of Avatars and a simple premise.

Torchlight was no slouch, however, a port of a year old title from PC to Xbox has done quite well with over 191,000 players since its release. Few XBLA games ever reach that milestone -- not even last year's Summer of Arcade titles, like Hydro Thunder or Lara Croft: Guardian Of Light, were able to reach that mark in a similar timeframe.

The return of Beyond Good & Evil also did well, with nearly 100,000 players. Whether that proves to be enough for the retail sequel to go ahead is unknown, but it could mean we will see more remakes of this nature from Ubisoft. While the publisher has released remakes on PlayStation Network for the Prince of Persia series, we could possibly see others from the previous generation like Rayman 2 or XIII.

Both Hard Corps: Uprising and Bejeweled Blitz Live did not fare as well, both nearing 55,000 units, and even Bejeweled was only able to reach that milestone by reducing its price 80 percent for a week. It appears that the popularity of the Facebook game wasn't enough to garner a following on XBLA. Still, PopCap plan to release Bejeweled 3 by the end of the year.

Bah, Who Needs A Promotion?

Being in a promotion doesn't necessarily guarantee sales, although it certainly helps. To be in a promotion in the first place, you need to prove your worth to Microsoft -- a game the company thinks can blow people away. That said, there are only around 15 slots a year for promotions, so not everything can get in. Those that are quality products will still sell well.

Dead Rising: Case West was able to add 248,000 players -- far less than Case Zero, but it was also twice as expensive. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile from Ska Studios has sold 82,500 copies since its release, EA's Fancy Pants Adventures has added 54,000 player, Double Fine's Trenched has already added 60,000 players, and Magic The Gathering 2012 after a very short period of time has added a staggering 134,000 players. Two of those are sequels, which we've said in the past don't necessarily do well on digital platforms, but though they have done well, neither has been able to hit the high milestones the original games reached.

There are still a lot of games that might have done well, but we don't know for sure thanks to their lack of Leaderboards. Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes, Outland, Section 8: Prejudice, and Stacking all fall in this category.

Games that weren't well received but appear to have sold well include the shooter Breach, which has 38,000 players, and Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, which we know sold well based off of weekly statistics. While both received decent sales, they were also overly ambitious -- an online multiplayer shooter and a cooperative dungeon crawler. They're niches that needed to be filled, and likely cost a lot of money to develop, so while they did reasonably in the marketplace, better games likely would have still sold much better.

Good, But Didn't Sell

Games which were able to get great reviews but fell short in sales, including Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury and Adventures of Shuggy, seem to suffer two problems -- an odd choice in genre, and a lack of prior talk about them in the press. Both D3 and Valcon Games didn't really push either game prior to their release, which meant they got swallowed into the system with nothing but a whisper.

Until Next Time...

We will continue to publish an analysis of Xbox Live Arcade each month through 2011, and we will come back to the big list at the end of December. With the Summer of Arcade, and likely at least one more promotion alongside it, we could see a good year. Who would have thought, six years ago, that Xbox Live Arcade would become what it is now? It's amazing how far it has come.

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