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February Game Sales Flop 131

Some financial news from the gaming industry today; NPD Analysts predict that game sales for February will be much lower than hoped-for, down eleven percent from last year. Take-Two Interactive, the publisher for studios Rockstar and Firaxis, posted a loss of $29.1 Million in their first quarter, which ended at the end of January. Not everything was doom and gloom. Newly linked Bioware/Pandemic did great in 2005, with more than 28 million games sold. From that 1up piece: "Neither company has laid out much of their plans for the next-generation consoles, though BioWare's brief showing of their planned Xbox 360 trilogy Mass Effect suggests the companies are poised to be just as ambitious on the coming consoles as ever before. "
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February Game Sales Flop

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  • Well, they don't call this month Febturday for nothing.
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:51PM (#14878385)
    My game consumption was down to zero in February because all the local retailers were telling me that they'd be getting the Xbox 360 in regular stock come March. I put a permanent freeze on my PS2 game purchases as a result. Then March came and I bought the 360 and a couple games, with a couple more purchases likely to follow.
    • Modded insightful? Don't worry, i caught the joke...
    • by keltor ( 99721 ) * on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:42PM (#14878770) Homepage
      My guy at EB told me a little story ...

      The reason they aren't getting that many copies of each 360 game ... cause they didn't sell well enough in the first place.
      • Did they learn from the mistake Atari made 2 decades ago? I think the story was that they made more ET modules than there were sold Atari 2600s. Some marketing guy thought every family would buy one copy for the home, and another copy for their ski resort. Of course, with the 1980s, I doubt many people had their own ski resorts, with dust-gathering copies of Atari 2600 games inside.
    • I didn't buy any games because I was still playing through the ones I got for Christmas. The next game I buy will likely be Space Rangers 2 [], when it makes its way to North America later this month.
    • I did the same thing to be honest. I haven't bought games in ages but once I got a chance to buy a 360 I bought 4 games right away.
  • Damn PS3! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    We're seeing the effects already. The analysts were right!
  • Next Gen Consoles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mexter2005 ( 854056 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:56PM (#14878424)
    The fact that we have two different next-gen consoles coming down the pipeline can't possibly be helping game sales. That, and the quality of the games.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Look at the line up that's gonna be coming out in March:

      Metroid Prime DS
      Brain Age
      New Tetris

      It's no wonder that February wasn't too hot for game sales.
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:58PM (#14878442) Homepage
    Are there any new games out there worth buying when they're not in the bargin bin already?
  • by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:03PM (#14878470) Homepage
    NPD Analysts predict that game sales for February will be much lower than hoped-for

    Crazy me. I thought it was already March.
  • MMO effect? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by __aaitqo8496 ( 231556 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:03PM (#14878473) Journal
    I know that console and PC gamers tend to be different breed, but could the huge success of WoW be a contributing factor to declining revenue in the game industry?

    Blizzard's intent is to continue thier current subscription by introducing long-lasting content. With 6 million users, does anyone else think that this could have a definitive effect on other games (both PC and console).

    It's not called Warcrack for nothing.
    • Re:MMO effect? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I agree about MMORPGs. Every friend I have who plays WoW or EQ or one of the others has completely stopped buying any new games where they used to buy pc games at least every month or two even if just for the sake of buying something.

      The fact that Geometry Wars is the most talked about game on the 360 should be a pretty good idication of the sorry state of games for the system. And there doesn't seem to be much on the horizon - at least nothing that isn't going to be on the pc too.

      The PS2 seems to be still
    • I played FF11 for a while. People still play other games. Only maybe 5% of an MMO's playerbase plays so hardcore that they dont do anything else. The rest of everyone gets tired of it at some point and does other stuff, be it real life activites or playing other games. Hell, half the time friends of mine would play other games while waiting for stuff to happen (yea, mmo's can be that boring). I suppose MMOs have an effect, but not such a drastic one as to preclude future purchases of all, or even most
      • Re:MMO effect? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by __aaitqo8496 ( 231556 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:32PM (#14878689) Journal
        Even prescribing to your suggestion of 5%, that's still a significant amount amount of revenue a company could lose out one. Let's do a little math:

        WoW active subscriber base: 6 million
        Percent of hardcore players: 5%
        Total active hardcore players: 300,000
        Cost of a game: $40 (this is very conservative)
        Total potential lost revenue: $12 million

        If we increase the cost of a game to $50 (a much more realistic amount), the revenue jumps to $15 million. However, I don't think the cost of a game is really a variable here. I think the real problem lies in the 5% assumption. While this may be accurate for those that are hardcore players (and do not much else), another very large subset of players falls into the "doesn't play much else" category: casuals. Why? Becasue they're casual. They only play an hour or two each night, maybe not every night. This is typically because they have additional real life obligations. This would suggest they don't have time to play yet another video game.

        I think the percentage of World of Warcraft players that don't play other games on a regular basis is much higher than 5%.

        Thoughts? Questions? Comments?
        • Re:MMO effect? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MISplice ( 19058 )
          I know I am one of those players.. and a lot of my friends are. Most articles I have read have said that is one of the appeals of WoW is that it is relatively easy to level by yourself or in a small group and appeals to the more casual gamers. I would say that the % of casual gamers is probably more like 20%.. I bought WoW in August and have not purchased another game since.
      • I used to play many other games very frequently but since getting WoW I raid about 4 hours a night or so after work which leaves little to no time for any other games. I bought Civ 4 when it released and that is the only one over the past year. Usually I get about a game a month on average and have also used gamefly. You don't have to be a hardcore WoW player necessarily for it to take most of your leisure time up. Either you play fewer other games or you keep playing them and do fewer alternative leisu
        • "since getting WoW I raid about 4 hours a night or so after work" and "You don't have to be a hardcore WoW player necessarily for it to take most of your leisure time up."

          This is what people dont understand about wow. 4 hours a day is *not* considered by most, to be a hardcore player. IMHO hardcore would be 8+ hours a day, and i know plenty who play for that length of time. The grand parent clearly has never played wow or they would realize that their arent any other games once you get into that one.
    • I dont think so. The game is fun for a few months (like many other good games) but it eventually gets old and I think most people move on to other games.
    • Well, game sales should pick up soon since users in China--they have 500,000 there--are threatening a mass protest [].
    • Since I started playing MMOs. I played City of Heroes for almost a year, then moved to WoW. Played Wow for close to a year, jumped over to City of Villains for a few months and now I am playing EverQuest 2.
      I still play other games besides the MMOs, but my purchasing frequency has gone down. I probably buy a game every other month now, rather than 1-2 a month two years ago. It also takes me longer to wear out a single player game because of time spent with MMOs. I've barely scratched the surface on Civ 4 and
      • As someone who has hear mostly negative things about eq2, it was interesting to see someone who moved from wow to EQ2. I to am starting to get frustrated with WOW's lack of casual content at 60 and would was interested to read that maybe there is worth to buying EQ2. THX
        • The interesting thing is that EQ2 actually reviewed pretty well when it came out. The average rating over at is 84%. It was completely overshadowed by the launch of World of Warcraft.
          WoW gets a lot of stuff right and I love the game, but like anything else it gets old and you find yourself with nothing interesting to do.
          After getting bored of WoW I started shopping for another MMO. I tried some free trials including Eve online and Star Wars Galaxies. One of the things that's nice about WoW'
  • Game sales for February were possibly down in part because: there weren't many good games released that month? Or was that the point? /stayed at a Holiday Inn last night
  • March (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the computer guy nex ( 916959 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:06PM (#14878497)
    March will be an absolute monster

    Fight Night Round 3, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Burnout, College hoops 2k6 for 360, etc.
    • So you might just say it would be a Monster March? I hate that song.
    • Sequel Round 3,Sequel Advanced Warfighter, Sequel: Oblivion, Sequel, Sequel 2k6 for 360, etc.

      I don't care about that shit. You don't care about it. No one does.

      There are some games I want to buy, but haven't because I'm shit outta money. None of them are in the list you mentioned. Those games are Animal Crossing and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. One has the unique feature of WiFi play (and also a nice touch-screen interface to a game that sorely needs it), and the other is the only law simulation I kno
      • You mean Sequel Crossing?

        Just because a game is a sequel doesn't make it not good. Just because you don't care about that shit mean no one does. Get off your high horse, will ya? I'm quite looking forward to playing GRAW and Oblivion.

        And forget GarageBand, give Elektroplankton a rent at least. Its quite fun.

      • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

        Good luck finding a copy. I've been looking for it for a month.
      • I think it's funny that you insult him for looking forward to sequels, when the first two games you mention are a sequel and a remake. Your argument basically boils down to "I'm not interested in those games, therefore they suck and don't matter."
  • RF Online. I am so sorry I did. (and I can't get a refund after using the key).

    Other then that BF2 + Special forces (because my other disk was stolen).

    TBH I have stopped buying games. I have budget for 2 MMO games. At the moment its COV. But looking for another to play as well.
    • Is RF Online just looks-without-substance?
      I had been considering it, but there were virtually no positive remarks in any of the comments sections of previews/reviews.

      I really wonder at the staying power of WoW though. It does have a strong appeal for MMOG players, but Raids and PVP can't appeal to everyone. Something new is bound to come along, I just hope we don't miss out on a real treasure because it doesn't have the marketing power needed.

      I know I want something new to explore. My kingdom for a Shadowru
      • patch 1.10 for WOW is supposed to have some neat epics for level 60 non-raiders. they're also adding some eye-candy in weather effects.

        And of course, everyone is waiting for burning crusade (delayed again. :( )

      • I know I want something new to explore. My kingdom for a Shadowrun/Battletech hybrid :)
        Me, I want something new from the PCGames Mechwarrior series. Maybe a Mechwarrior Online? or even some kind of MMORPG for Battletech. Start as either Inner sphere or clan (clan are harder to level, IS have IS mechs and weapons initially and only clan stuff at really high levels).


      • >Is RF Online just looks-without-substance?

        I wouldn't even give it looks. The looks on the box are way better then in game. The UI is badly done, movement is painful and I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong but I couldn't for the life of me find a jump key.

        COV/EQ2/WOW sets a very high standard to what a game should look like. COV/COH certainly sets the standard for character customisation.
        • There is indeed a jump key (I think it's 'v'), it however does not really do anything.

          I have RF-Online as well, mainly because I played the game over in Japan and it looked interested... interesting enough to want to know what all that text actually said. I've been playing it for about a week now, and one thing to note is it really is a Korean MMO. Let me explain.

          The game has two primary components, PvP and grind. The grind is a bit different than your usual fare, as it's not all based on experience and
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:14PM (#14878560)
    I wonder if this has anything to do with cramming every single AAA game title into November's release schedule?

    It's like the other 11 months of the year don't matter.
  • WoW (Score:4, Funny)

    by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:17PM (#14878589) Homepage

    This is nothing special, half the gaming market is now addicted to World of Warcraft, and has lost contact to the physical world. Analysts expect this effect to become smaller in a few years, though the market will probably never go back to what it was, considering the number of starvation casualties expected.

  • My big purchase for February was Cubivore. Used. Waiting on two things at this point: Spore [] and a Revolution. I may pick up Chibi-Robo, but my schedule hasn't been game friendly lately.
    • agree on wanting both Spore (from Will Wright of Sims fame) and the Nintendo Revolution. if Spore had come out, maybe I would have bought three games in February instead of two.
  • First quarter? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rvw14 ( 733613 )
    in their first quarter, which ended at the end of January.

    How does their first quarter end in January? I don't know of any insustry where the fiscal year begins in November.

    • Pretty sure most start their fiscal year eithre September or January.
    • I am not an economist, CEO, or CPA but...

      The fiscal year can begin anytime they want it to - depending on when they incorporated and how they were structured. I work for a company in the health field and our year begins in October and ends in September. It is pretty much arbitrary although most corporations tend to follow the major trend in their area since filings with the SEC and earning reports fall on the same time and Wall Street can compare them easier.
    • I don't know of any insustry where the fiscal year begins in November.

      Another poster beat me to stating that a fiscal year can begin at any time, and that it is on a per-company basis.

      Aside from that, November -> Janurary is still good for a fiscal quarter as it covers the Christmas season and post-christmas activity. The next fiscal cycle then covers the Feburary fall-off and March rebound.

  • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:32PM (#14878690) Journal
    I guess we might as well get used to seeing this from now on:
    every month= game sales down, **AA crying that movie profits are down and music sales (CD's) are down, none of them can get a clue I guess, a lot of are tired of DRM, high prices, and slipping quality and us sheep are looking for better pastures.
    • **AA will blame it all on piracy. Everything. Every time. It doesn't matter if they've just released less CDs in the same proportion, or they just had two months of crap movie releases that noone wants to watch, or whatever. It's those damn pirates. Why, surely our latest movie with bad acting, bad directing, and a cliched script that's a verbatim clone of a prescribed recipe, why, it must have been secretly a great success. Surely millions, nay, _billions_ of people were just dying to see it, and only pira
      • **AA will blame it all on piracy. Everything. Every time. It doesn't matter if they've just released less CDs in the same proportion, or they just had two months of crap movie releases that noone wants to watch, or whatever. It's those damn pirates

        No joke. I picked up a new release DVD last Tuesday and it has that forced "Piracy is Stealing" thing you have to watch. What is the point of that? I can't imagine that any movie pirate actually leaves that message on the begining of a DVD rip or anything.
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:39PM (#14878750) Journal
    I've got too many games from last year (and before) that I haven't got around to playing seriously.

    Why would I buy more now?

    Let me get through those games, or at least get my money's worth from them. Then I'll think about new games. By that time the Revolution will be out anyway, and I'll only have time for games that provide immediate fun.
    • Let's see... I have the 2nd expansion pack for NWN to play, and the Kingmaker expansion.
      I haven't finished TES III: Morrowind, nevermind the two expansions.
      I haven't played Civ4 half as much as I'd like, maybe half a dozen games.
      I've Myst 5 to play.
      I'm only about halfway through Guild Wars with my first character.
      I have Fable to play (yeah, it seems that it isn't too great, but I'll enjoy playing it through all the same, it looks reasonable pretty and has a story to follow).

      And to cap it all, I'm buying TES
  • Steam (Score:4, Interesting)

    by glenrm ( 640773 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:43PM (#14878776) Homepage Journal
    I bought Half-Life 2 through Steam and paid for a month of City of Heroes. Does NPD track this these kinds of purchases?
    • NPD neither tracks online purchases, nor monthly subscriptions. They need to address this to preserve their credibility, but many developers and publishers are unlikely to want to release their (undoctored) sales information to anyone.
  • by wandazulu ( 265281 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:51PM (#14878834)
    As a GC owner, I'm looking forward to Zelda Twilight Princess, but other than that, I can't think of any other game I'm supposed to be looking forward to or is making any kind of movement on the Excite-o-Meter. DNF? I gave up looking forward to that years and *years* ago. Shenmue 3 (yes, I played and loved 1 & 2)? Who knows if that will ever see the light of day.

    The malaise stretches across the board: Nobody's talking about a new GTA game (GTA: Akron maybe?), no Dooms or Quakes or Half Lifes, or even Katamari Damarcys; no AAA titles to make me even inquisitive.

    Comments on /. have been along the same way; lots of retro talk, but no buzz (planted or not) about anything. Anything! We're in a stasis; the 360 is here but there's nothing exciting coming down the pipe, the PS3 has been delayed, taking whatever launch titles we were hoping for with it, and the Revolution...well, that thing is so nebulous I can't even form an opinion of it (controller notwithstanding).

    In short, you (the game industry) got nothin', and now we all know it.
    • The malaise stretches across the board: Nobody's talking about a new GTA game (GTA: Akron maybe?), no Dooms or Quakes or Half Lifes, or even Katamari Damarcys; no AAA titles to make me even inquisitive.

      I think there's a Katamari for the PSP out.

      I'm holding out for GTA: Emerald City (Seattle) ...
    • You own a Gamecube (and a Gamecube only), of course you can't see what's coming.

      There were hundreds of titles out just before Christmas, and nobody could have played every single thing that they liked the look of, surely?

      The UK's February release schedule is just as bad, but it ALWAYS HAS BEEN. This isn't news for Chrissakes. Every year, the industry suffers a massive downturn in February. Christmas shopping covers Nov/Dec, then January sales cover January, then February has...well, a bunch of crappy Game
      • Actually, I own the GC, PS2, original xbox, a DS, a gamer rig for the PC, and keep both a Dreamcast and N64 handy. The problem was that apart from Zelda, there was nothing I liked the looks of. I used to go into the local EBGames/Gamestop almost every day, then it became every weekend, now it's once in a blue moon.
      • The UK's February release schedule is just as bad, but it ALWAYS HAS BEEN. This isn't news for Chrissakes. Every year, the industry suffers a massive downturn in February. Christmas shopping covers Nov/Dec, then January sales cover January, then February has...well, a bunch of crappy Gameboy Advance compilation packs and sod all else. Then March perks up as everyone prepares for the Easter/Summer holidays...

        FYI - They are comparing this February to last February. Earnings are always compared to the s

    • Oblivion is coming out for the xbox 360 and PC on March 20. I think that is pretty exciting.
    • Also Crysis, BioShock, Gothic 3, Heroes of Might and Magic 5, Metroid Prime: Hunters, Spore, Dreamfall (Longest Journey 2), Disgaea 2, Half-Life 2: Aftermath, SiN Episodes, Neverwinter Nights 2, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Hellgate: London, Sam and Max 2, Unreal Tournament 2k7, and Rise of Legends.

      Just to name a few, mostly for PC.
      • The problem is, a good number of those games aren't coming out for some time now. There's not a chance in hell that we'll see Bioshock before 2007, for example.
    • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
      Half-Life 2: Aftermath
      Plus Metroid Prime: Hunters is supposed the be the DSes Quake

      Both ET:QW and MP:H, judging by their reviews, have the potential to be the FPS of the year.
      Supreme Commander might turn up soon too if we're lucky.
    • Im still looking forward to the UK release of Guitar Hero on April 7th, and to tide me over while I wait for that I've got Outrun, Deus Ex 2 and Forza all of which I picked up for £4 each. But I can see what your saying, a quick scan down the 2006 release schedule of my gaming rag of choice shows a very sparse line up with not to much to jump up and down about.
  • during February, I bought:

    1. Sims 2: Night Life - for my PC, as an upgrade to Sims 2: University
    2. Sims 2 - for my xBox, since it's different in the console version

    and guides for both (games at EBX, books at Barnes & Noble).
  • Well, I did get the game legally, but I didn't exactly buy it because I got it for free when transitioned into But I would've bought it anyway if I wasn't getting it for free.
  • ... but companies that track new game purchases will almost certainly not count the money I spent, because it went into second hand games and private purchases on eBay.
  • Which sales? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Are sales in general down, or just sales of the cookie-cutter crap that the big studios have been pushing out? In Australia, February was a great month for games - Ico finally got a re-release, along with We Love Katamari and Shadow of the Colossus. Shadow was the most-sold game on the platform in the week it released, and Shadow and Katamari are sitting at #3 and #4 on the charts this week too. I know that Australian sales are a drop in the ocean overall, but this trend seems to be going on throughout the
  • by EvilCabbage ( 589836 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:23PM (#14879735) Homepage
    Down here in Australia, we're two weeks away from the Xbox 360 launch (23rd March it hits shelves). The console itself is going to set us back AU$649.00 and games are an average of AU$120 each.

    One hundred and twenty fucking dollars? Give me a break. I had a hard enough time justifying a game at $80 or $90, but to bust out a three figure pricetag is just ridiculous. I've got a "good" job, my wife and I have plenty of disposable income and we're both quite enthusiastic gamers but we've just been priced out of the market quite frankly.

    If people with a few grand a month to basically throw away are being put off by the cost of this "next gen" crap, what's that going to do for the guy who will need to spend two weeks of his income just to pick up the console and a couple of games?

    I really do hope the 360 launch flops down here, it sure as hell deserves to.
    • US games are ~$50 so back in 2000, when AU$1 = 0.50 $US it made sense for our games to be $100. Since then the AU has gone up vs the $US, but we're still paying $100 AU, which is significantly higher than the rest of the world. ($80 US/game)
      • Not wrong sir.

        I can't see any justification for the high price of games these days. It's not like we've got massive amounts of money to throw around as a nation (the mean income certainly seems to be falling to me) and entertainment sure as hell isn't getting any cheaper.

        Hell, neither are other aspects of life.

        I'm not basing this on any real figures I have, just personal experiences.
      • The funny thing is that the PS3 is actually going to be MUCH more expensive, prob twice as much, at least. So these consoles are approaching the price of nice laptop or tower PC, why doesnt everyone migrate back over to Zion (aka the PC gaming realm?!)
  • I come!

    I predict that the Saturn and Dreamcast will flop, Nintendo will dominate the handhold market, Microsoft will eventually enter the console business, and Duke Nukem Forever won't make it out in 2002!

    (Silly me, I always thought that predictions had to be made before the fact, this changes everything!)
  • Did you actually look at the release lists for February. Not much of any actual interest was released in February. Fight Night Round 3 and Grandia III, and maybe Brain Age if it was actually released in Feb, are the only things I can recall. It's a bit of a slump month, nothing to see here. Look forward to March, where it's just started, and I've already purchased 2 games (both DS of course, but there's actually something to look forward to this month).
  • I bought Black... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by payndz ( 589033 ) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @04:44AM (#14881475)
    ...but then I returned it because I got bored with it, having seen everything it had to offer in just three days. So I guess that doesn't technically count as a sale.
  • ... but not the finish-in-one-week variety. I play MMOs like EVE Online, and have been for about three years now, as well as the odd other MMO that comes out here and there. I can't tell you how much persistent games like these have cut into my purchases of games such as Black, that latest Star Wars RTS, etc. I'm just not interested in playing a game that I can potentially finish in a low single-digit number of weekends, then shelve or trade in for a few measly bucks at EB and get another of the same.

  • If, by the end of the month, anyone who owns a 360 doesn't have Ghost Recon Advanced Warfigher, they are obligated to raise their hand when someone asks, 'Who here has had their head stuck in a hole?'. I am in no way a GR fanboy from the past, but this game really *is* next gen, and the buzz behind it is just starting and will be huge.
    • do you work for EA or something? At any rate, Penny Arcade's response is certainly luke warm at best. No campaign multi-player co-op you see. Hell, I'm more excited about God of War and GT 4 hitting greatest hits then Ghost Recon:AW. I guess it is hard to imagine someone with a 360 without it though, there just isn't that much out right now. The EA sports games in particular disappointed me what with their shacky framerate. I haven't been impressed with a sports game since Sega's first Dreamcast NBA game. W

I'm still waiting for the advent of the computer science groupie.