Namco blames launch window for poor Enslaved sales performance

by: Peter Skeritt -
In a recent interview with Siliconera about the overall performance of last year's action-adventure title Enslaved, Namco Bandai Vice President of Marketing Carlson Choi mentioned that the game didn't sell as well as the company had hoped it would. He does go on to say something very interesting about Enslaved, though:

"To answer that question of the challenge of the unit number it really didn’t do what we anticipated. To be perfectly frank, I think as a company prior to us reforming this organization, going to market, I think the game went to market at a very busy season. It launched in the midst of a busy holiday season. Last year, there were like 4000+ games for consoles. We didn’t do a good job finding the right time for it because when you look at the quality of the game it speaks for itself."

Choi's observation is a valid one. 

On the same day that Enslaved was released, the game had major competition from two established IPs in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and NBA 2K11. Even though Enslaved was generally well-received by critics, the game was passed over because there were more familiar options at retail at the time. It's an unfortunate by-product of the video game industry's love affair with overloading their releases for the holiday season every year. 

Enslaved isn't the only game that suffered from being lumped in with too many releases at once. Arcade racing title Split/Second had absolutely no chance of success when it debuted in May of last year, despite being outside of the holiday release window. Why? Three words: Red Dead Redemption. Split/Second's sales potential was further diminished when Activision released its own arcade racing game in Blur during that same month. The fallout from the poor sales performance for both arcade racers was devastating as Activision recently shuttered Blur developers Bizarre Creations and the fate of Split/Second developers Black Rock Studios is still in doubt with Disney Interactive's recent restructuring. 

March has the potential to do similar damage. THQ adjusted its launch date of Homefront to avoid competing against Dragon Age II and this year's crop of baseball games, and now release a week before Crysis 2. Can two first-person shooters sell well within a week of each other, given that there is so much other competition in other genres out there? Baseball, tennis, golf, and wrestling games all hit in March for sports fans. Dynasty Warriors 7 hits in March, but so does Warriors: Legends of Troy... and both games could cancel each other out. 

We will see if Namco learns its lesson... and it's one that the rest of industry should pay attention to, as well. 

Source: Siliconera
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