[Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines September 2011's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes, with charts and Leaderboard data showing the performance of titles like The Baconing and Radiant Silvergun.
September was an extraordinary month for the Xbox Live Arcade -- 17 new releases across a variety of genres. Such a glut is not uncommon for the service, as those who missed out on the Summer of Arcade -- the largest promotion of the year -- tend to all try to get their titles out at the same time.
We have Crimson Alliance
, The Baconing, Renegade Ops
and more to look at, so let's examine how these games have fared in the marketplace. Using leaderboard statistics and Metacritic ratings, pieced together by us, we determine what went right or wrong for the latest games, older titles, and downloadable content.
The month began with a week featuring four new titles, starting with The Baconing
, a sequel to the DeathSpank
series now being published by Hothead itself. Unfortunately, the game received middling review scores, and ended up only gaining 9,466 players for the month, ranking ninth on the most-downloaded XBLA games in its opening week
. The PlayStation Network version was part of the "PSN Play" promotion, but it barely did any better with only 15,733 players.
was the second game released, but it only added 8,371 players over the month, and was the worst reviewed of the month with a Metacritic rating of 40. It was ranked 16th among the most downloaded games for its opening week.
The other two titles were Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection
and Rock Of Ages
, but we could not follow the Leaderboards for either. However, Mortal Kombat
hit the top spot in its opening week on the Major Nelson Top 20, while Rock Of Ages
hit the 13th spot, so it appears that Kollection
has done well for itself despite the shortcomings, while Rock Of Ages
hasn't hit the market on a high.
A further four titles were released for the week of September 5. The highest "selling" was Crimson Alliance,
the new title from Certain Affinity, but bear in mind that this game was also given away for free to those who purchased all five of the Summer of Arcade titles. Even taking this into account, it seems to have sold reasonably well after the fact.
The other three titles for the week all seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Bloodrayne: Betrayal
only added 3,462 players in its first week with a whole 5,614 for the month. The third Kinect title LeedMees
got no promotion from Konami and only 1,208 players in the first week for just 2,573 for the month. Lastly SkyDrift
, despite being one of the three top rated games for the month, whimpered with only 2,349 players in the first week and 5,154 players for the month.
It's somewhat distressing to see games like this sell so poorly courtesy of lack of promotion from the developers and publishers alike. Hopefully they'll live on to try again, with a bit more thought put into the marketing. Even BloodRayne
, which was part of the "PSN Play" promotion, saw nothing substantial from that inclusion.
The third week of the month only saw three new titles this time around: The exclusive Radiant Silvergun
, Sega's Renegade Ops
, and Red Bull X-Fighters
. Unfortunately we can't tell how well Radiant Silvergun
has done thanks to limited Leaderboard statistics, but we do know that it dropped to 13th place on the Major Nelson Top 20 in its second week of availability, placing lower than Renegade Ops
Speaking of Renegade Ops
, it didn't appear to do very well either, with just 6,483 players in the first week, and a total of 12,295 players for the month - again, a part of PSN Play on the PS3. Redbull X-Fighters
also failed to impress with just 6,033 players in the month.
In the fourth week we got three new titles - Rotastic, Burnout: Crash
, and the Games On Demand exclusive Resident Evil 4 HD
. Unfortunately we've got no data on RE4 HD
, which is a shame -- more games coming exclusively to Games On Demand could really change the landscape for unique content on XBLA.
didn't have anything we could follow either, as its leaderboards were dedicated to friends only. It did however hit second place
in the Top 20 for the week, just behind Portal: Still Alive
, which saw a reduced price that week.
had Leaderboards, but all they proved is just how badly the game has sold. Only 1,323 players over two weeks -- another published release by Focus Home Interactive that seemingly was sent to die. I hope the fellows at Ronimo Games know what they're doing with Awesomenauts.
The last week brought another three releases to the table - Mercury Hg, Worms: Ultimate Mayhem,
and MLB Bobblehead Battle.
was the first XBLA game we've seen in some time that was released for only 400MSP ($5). The low price doesn't seem to have helped much with sales, however, with the title only adding 6,078 players in its first week. Unfortunately we don't know anything about Worms
or MLB Bobblehead
, but neither have received great reviews.
Dealing With Deals
There were a ton of deals on throughout the month of September - unfortunately we could only follow a slice of them, and have limited data since they mostly appeared at the end of the month. The prevalence of deals seems to have limited each one's individual impact, however, which is a shame.
A 'Splosion Of Pinball
A brand new table for Pinball FX 2
was released this month, featuring Twisted Pixel's Ms. Splosion Man
. The game added 9,725 players in the first week, and 19,787 for the month - less than previous tables. The game may be starting to see sales tail off a bit, but it's still doing reasonable well over time.
A Gunstringer's Dessert
Last month we spoke to the fact that Toy Soliders: Cold War
was, by our count, the best selling Summer of Arcade title this year. That is no longer the case, as it appears Fruit Ninja Kinect
has now taken that throne with continued sales that showed less slowdown when compared to Toy Soldiers
. This may be courtesy of The Gunstringer,
, which includes a download code for Fruit Ninja Kinect
in the retail package, but we have no idea how well that retail game has sold. Full House Poker
still reigns as the top XBLA seller for the full year, at least based on games we can follow.
Magic The Gathering 2012
has pushed itself over 200,000 downloads, which is great to see, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
has crossed the 50,000 player milestone.
Looking towards October, we've got plenty of big titles on the way - NBA Jam, Orcs Must Die, Guardian Heroes, Daytona USA
and Dungeon Defenders
to name a few. It should shape up to be a quality month for the Xbox Live Arcade.