Sells 3.4 Million, still not good enough

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#1 Posted by JayEH (533 posts) -

Story

So TR sells 3.4 million, good numbers right? Nope, still below sales targets and the Square CEO has stepped down. Either games are super, super expensive to make now or publishers have unrealistic expectations. Probably a combo of both.

#2 Edited by Oscar__Explosion (2403 posts) -

Remember last gen when even getting a million sales was a huge accomplishment? Geez game development has really gotten crazy.

#3 Edited by Morningstar (2239 posts) -

Those 3.4 million doesnt even count digital sales. So closer to 4 million I expect, and in one month. What expectations where they having???

#4 Posted by casper_ (908 posts) -

well maybe AAA games ought to step back as the risks are seemingly ridiculous nowadays

#5 Posted by CrossTheAtlantic (1146 posts) -

It's like everyone is wanting that 3.6 mil for the first 24 hours or something. It's nuts. I understand game cost is rising, but these kind of costs and expectations just getting wider do not bode well in the industry.

#6 Posted by Soapy86 (2619 posts) -

The AAA model of game development is simply unsustainable.

#7 Edited by EXTomar (4943 posts) -

Now you know why so many Japanese companies retreated into portables. Part of it is the market itself is inflexible. Part of it is due to the tools themselves have gotten dramatically more expensive. Although the market side of the equation might be fixed for consoles "next gen", the tools side is still very much in risk and shows no signs in slowing down.

#8 Edited by killacam (1278 posts) -

Man, that's too bad... Square is one of the better publishers these days.

#9 Edited by Bollard (5841 posts) -

@jayeh said:

Story

So TR sells 3.4 million, good numbers right? Nope, still below sales targets and the Square CEO has stepped down. Either games are super, super expensive to make now or publishers have unrealistic expectations. Probably a combo of both.

It's the former. People don't realise how expensive games are to make, and how unrealistic it is to expect them to continue to be $60. I'm fairly sure next gen we have to see a rise in game prices, or else pretty much everything will have microtransactions and shitloads of DLC.

#10 Posted by JasonR86 (9726 posts) -

They set the sales mark too high then cause 3.4 million is really good. Especially for a reboot at the end of a console cycle.

#11 Posted by Zaccheus (1805 posts) -

That's sad in so many levels.

#12 Posted by HerbieBug (4208 posts) -

That is a fantastic number for a Tomb Raider game. Square are out of their minds thinking they could sell more than that with a game in this series.

Rising cost of the big blockbuster game titles isn't strictly a bad thing for the games industry. As the truly big budget titles become fewer and further between, we'll see a continued rise in quantity of small and medium budget titles both indie and small studio. It's that part of the industry that has been making my favorite games in recent years anyway.

#13 Posted by uniform (1838 posts) -

Very disappointing news. I loved the game, and I'm really hoping for a sequel. I think a sequel has so much potential to be great. I hope this doesn't kill the chances of that happening.

#14 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4488 posts) -

Why are expectations for sales so high at the end of a console cycle? Unless the budget was a nightmare, those sales sound great.

#15 Posted by theveej (854 posts) -

3.5 - 4 million for TR is excellent number in my opinion (seeing how other games have done recently, heck even how Uncharted was selling in previous years). Honestly if they expected this game to sell more than 4 million copies in the first month they are delusional. This seems more of a corporate problem than a game didn't sell well problem to me, they probably were going to lose a lot of money this quarter and artificially had high expected earning to keep their share price up.

I could easily see a scenario where TR was a profitable venture but overall they are losing money as a company and were expecting better sales to cover for the cost. Also I'm not sure how useful $100 million marketing budgets are for some of these games (I remember them spending a ton on marketing TR and same with Bioshock Infinite) , it seems like the core audience who buys these games are gonna buy them anyway if they are quality games and marketed decently. Business wise at some point they are getting diminishing returns on such high marketing budgets where (specially in North America where the last few years it has been evident that the COD audience only buys 2-3 games a year and TR is probably not one of those, specially in a year where GTA V is coming out).

Bottom line if 3.4 mill sales (not including digital, where it could increase it by 0.5 - 1 mill) in one month is a great number for a game like TR in this sort of market and economy. Square needs to figure things out on the corporate front.

#16 Edited by jozzy (2035 posts) -

I agree that 3.4 million seems like a great number, I would never have guessed it would be that high. I wonder where the expectations publishers seem to have these days (remember DS3's 6 mill goal) are based on.

#17 Posted by John1912 (1969 posts) -

@jayeh: Well did you see the Skull Girls article. It costs 150K to make a single character. They were paying their staff 600$ a week too.

#18 Posted by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

I can't fathom how the Witcher 2 developers were so pleased with 1 million sales (after one YEAR) that they expanded the team and started pumping out free content, (and that game looked better than TR (technology = money), was longer, had more content and detail), and these guys who basically made a female-version Uncharted 2 (which is excellent but nothing new) aren't happy with 3+ mil after a month.

Fuck logic much?

#19 Edited by psylah (2185 posts) -

Square Enix is a joke.

Over 4 million sales is lackluster, while their near 100 million dollar flop of FFXIII sells a quarter of that in its first month?

They slate 2 or 3 sequels for Final Fantasy XIII on consoles and Tomb Raider (which was actually enjoyable to play, unlike FFXIII) gets thrown under the bus?

They can't be serious.

p.s.: Guess where that 1 million units SE "shipped" went

#20 Posted by NoobSauceG7 (1253 posts) -

I don't understand how 3.4 million is considered low. That is crazy, like really fucking crazy...

#21 Posted by jdh5153 (1034 posts) -

This is another reason used games / rentals should end. I know a lot of people who either rented this game, or bought it, beat it in 6 hours and sold it back. Doesn't help the developer at all. It was a fun game, they deserve better.

#22 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (2030 posts) -

If the 3.4 million initial sales for this were a disappointment relative to the budget, then I'm terrified of what FFXIV's total loss was/is going to be again.

#23 Posted by psylah (2185 posts) -

If the 3.4 million initial sales for this were a disappointment relative to the budget, then I'm terrified of what FFXIV's total loss was/is going to be again.

Shit, I didn't even think about FFXIV, they had to build that game twice.

#24 Edited by iceman228433 (617 posts) -

Well you can kiss another Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider good bye which is too bad because both of those games were amazing. I really did think both of those games tried doing something great in a industry of crap, well like EA learned you only get stomped down for trying to do something great. Also why do I even buy games on Steam if they are never going to count those sales.

#25 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1681 posts) -

@psylah: You've posted those pictures in two separate threads, and I'm not sure what they're supposed to prove. I don't buy games from physical retailers very often, but don't they often get a bunch of copies of new releases? I imagine a game like FF XIII has a pretty long tail, so it's not like they weren't ever going to sell those copies (not to mention buyback programs and whatnot). Even if those retailers did buy too many copies, two examples is meaninglessly anecdotal.

It's also very likely that second bin has a bunch of filler boxes at the bottom.

#26 Edited by Zirilius (729 posts) -

Why are expectations for sales so high at the end of a console cycle? Unless the budget was a nightmare, those sales sound great.

Not to mention that sales for games has decreased drastically over the last year. Some due to a generation that has gone on too long and some due to a still struggling economy.

#27 Edited by sarge1445 (677 posts) -

@jdh5153 said:

This is another reason used games / rentals should end. I know a lot of people who either rented this game, or bought it, beat it in 6 hours and sold it back. Doesn't help the developer at all. It was a fun game, they deserve better.

fuck that, developers should learn to make games that I want to keep or cut development costs. Not all of us have 60 dollars to blow every time a good game that is interesting comes out. Also those two options are the only way consumers have to avoid being burned by a bad game, try before you buy or try at a lower investment risk and if it sucks sell it back. Tomb Raider was a damn good game, I rented it and beat it. Was it fun yes, was it worth 60 dollars hell no. Also 3.4 million is a damn good number for that game and if Square expected a Tomb Raider reboot to do better then they expected far to much.

#28 Posted by Zaccheus (1805 posts) -

This is like THQ all over again. Just Cause 2, Deus Ex: HR, Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider... I hope the Eidos part of the company is doing decently so this trend can continue unabated.

#29 Edited by psylah (2185 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

@psylah: You've posted those pictures in two separate threads, and I'm not sure what they're supposed to prove. I don't buy games from physical retailers very often, but don't they often get a bunch of copies of new releases? I imagine a game like FF XIII has a pretty long tail, so it's not like they weren't ever going to sell those copies (not to mention buyback programs and whatnot). Even if those retailers did buy too many copies, two examples is meaninglessly anecdotal.

It's also very likely that second bin has a bunch of filler boxes at the bottom.

It's a pretty clear sign of gamers' demand for a game. Retailers thought there would be a huge rush for the new final fantasy, word got out that it was pretty bad, and the copies were not bought. For context, those bins were in japanese stores two months after release.

I don't know why you consider publishers buying back unopened copies to be all hunky-dory, it's a pretty slimy tactic to boost the image of a game for the media (over one million copies shipped! get yours today!), and at the end of the day, if new copies aren't sold to gamers, that is a large portion of the profits for the game that they are not making.

As for the "long tail", FFXIII got returned in droves, and I wouldn't fault someone for buying a game being "panned by the masses" second hand, which also drops the game's profitability.

p.s.: My intention was not to imply that the bin was stacked bottom to top with copies of FFXIII, we have bins like these in U.S. GameStops. Still, they are never filled with a bunch of copies of the same game.

#30 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1681 posts) -

@psylah said:

@grantheaslip said:

@psylah: You've posted those pictures in two separate threads, and I'm not sure what they're supposed to prove. I don't buy games from physical retailers very often, but don't they often get a bunch of copies of new releases? I imagine a game like FF XIII has a pretty long tail, so it's not like they weren't ever going to sell those copies (not to mention buyback programs and whatnot). Even if those retailers did buy too many copies, two examples is meaninglessly anecdotal.

It's also very likely that second bin has a bunch of filler boxes at the bottom.

It's a pretty clear sign of gamers' demand for a game. Retailers thought there would be a huge rush for the new final fantasy, word got out that it was pretty bad, and the copies were not bought. For context, those bins were in japanese stores two months after release.

I don't know why you consider publishers buying back unopened copies to be all hunky-dory, it's a pretty slimy tactic to boost the image of a game for the media (over one million copies shipped! get yours today!), and at the end of the day, if new copies aren't sold to gamers, that is a large portion of the profits for the game that they are not making.

As for the "long tail", FFXIII got returned in droves, and I wouldn't fault someone for buying a game being "panned by the masses" second hand, which also drops the game's profitability.

p.s.: My intention was not to imply that the bin was stacked bottom to top with copies of FFXIII, we have bins like these in U.S. GameStops. Still, they are never filled with a bunch of copies of the same game.

My larger issue is posting two pictures as proof of anything. For all we know, a couple of sales managers just fucked up and ordered too many copies of game. Do you have actual proof droves of copies were returned (to retailers, or to publishers?), and isn't shipping too many copies a pretty bad financial decision relative to nebulous PR benefits?

Again, for what it's worth, I don't find those pictures that nuts. Retails often seem to have way too many copies of some games -- I was at a Future Shop (Canadian Best Buy) a few days ago, and they had a big cabinet filled with a lower-but-comparable number of copies of Dead Space 3 and Tomb Raider, and it didn't strike me as all that weird. I'm also not really sure if 4000 yen is that unusual for a game that's been out for a few months -- don't Japanese retailers tend to mark down games pretty aggressively once they start hitting the second-hand market?

#31 Posted by Scroll (601 posts) -

I'd love to know how much money they've pumped into Versus XIII or whatever it is now. I also think they marketed Tomb Raider far too early, people are already aware of the brand to an extent.

#32 Posted by Subjugation (4740 posts) -

In what world is 3.4 million sales in a month a bad thing? Someone please tell me I'm not the crazy one, because that sounds like a good sales mark to me.

#33 Posted by psylah (2185 posts) -

@psylah said:

@grantheaslip said:

@psylah: You've posted those pictures in two separate threads, and I'm not sure what they're supposed to prove. I don't buy games from physical retailers very often, but don't they often get a bunch of copies of new releases? I imagine a game like FF XIII has a pretty long tail, so it's not like they weren't ever going to sell those copies (not to mention buyback programs and whatnot). Even if those retailers did buy too many copies, two examples is meaninglessly anecdotal.

It's also very likely that second bin has a bunch of filler boxes at the bottom.

It's a pretty clear sign of gamers' demand for a game. Retailers thought there would be a huge rush for the new final fantasy, word got out that it was pretty bad, and the copies were not bought. For context, those bins were in japanese stores two months after release.

I don't know why you consider publishers buying back unopened copies to be all hunky-dory, it's a pretty slimy tactic to boost the image of a game for the media (over one million copies shipped! get yours today!), and at the end of the day, if new copies aren't sold to gamers, that is a large portion of the profits for the game that they are not making.

As for the "long tail", FFXIII got returned in droves, and I wouldn't fault someone for buying a game being "panned by the masses" second hand, which also drops the game's profitability.

p.s.: My intention was not to imply that the bin was stacked bottom to top with copies of FFXIII, we have bins like these in U.S. GameStops. Still, they are never filled with a bunch of copies of the same game.

My larger issue is posting two pictures as proof of anything. For all we know, a couple of sales managers just fucked up and ordered too many copies of game. Do you have actual proof droves of copies were returned (to retailers, or to publishers?), and isn't shipping too many copies a pretty bad financial decision relative to nebulous PR benefits?

Again, for what it's worth, I don't find those pictures that nuts. Retails often seem to have way too many copies of some games -- I was at a Future Shop (Canadian Best Buy) a few days ago, and they had a big cabinet filled with a lower-but-comparable number of copies of Dead Space 3 and Tomb Raider, and it didn't strike me as all that weird. I'm also not really sure if 4000 yen is that unusual for a game that's been out for a few months -- don't Japanese retailers tend to mark down games pretty aggressively once they start hitting the second-hand market?

Whether or not you feel the pictures are apocryphal, irrelevant, or what have you, the point still stands that the game sold like shit compared to TR after one month. I see ranges of just under 5 million sales to 6 million, lifetime. And you were the one who proposed that the stacks that ended up in retailers were being sent back to the publishers. As for return numbers, those are harder to get, but this was my experience: I got my copy by buying it off of a friend for something under 10 bucks because that was more than Gamestop wanted to give her for it. That wasn't even 6 months after the U.S. release.

#34 Edited by Lucien21 (114 posts) -

It depends on how much Tomb Raider cost to develop.

I've seen someone stating that Bioshock Infinite had $100m development costs so maybe Tomb Raider was similar.

Even if the sales were 3.4 million then the developer sees about 30% ($18 of every $60 sale) of that. 3.4 million * $18 = $61.2 million. My guess is that it cost more than that to develop...therefore disappointing sales. If is was $100m to develop then it needs to sell abotu 5.5 million to break even.

And that's not even taking into account marketing.

#35 Posted by Pr1mus (3946 posts) -

Publishers have both unrealistic expectations and also poor budget management. If 3-4 million copies is still not enough you need better management, end of story.

#36 Posted by mellotronrules (1246 posts) -

and this is precisely why there's doom and gloom surrounding the turn of the generation. people are in for a jolt if they think the console market doesn't face substantial challenges in the next year or so. this holiday's numbers will be telling.

#37 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

#38 Edited by Jimbo (9988 posts) -

@soapy86 said:

The AAA model of game development is simply unsustainable.

Not really. They'll make a stack of money on this selling 3.4 million copies and counting, just not as big a stack as they were (unrealistically) hoping for. There is no way in hell they are losing money on this game.

@officegamer said:

I can't fathom how the Witcher 2 developers were so pleased with 1 million sales (after one YEAR) that they expanded the team and started pumping out free content, (and that game looked better than TR (technology = money), was longer, had more content and detail), and these guys who basically made a female-version Uncharted 2 (which is excellent but nothing new) aren't happy with 3+ mil after a month.

Fuck logic much?

They made it in Poland.

#39 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3535 posts) -

If you see the number 3.5 million and think "those are good sales," please leave this reality and stop frustrating my brain with your stupidity.

To know if a game sold well you have to know the budget, the price per unit, and the sales.

If you don't know the budget, and you are making a claim as to how well a game sold...

Again. Please. Leave this reality. You can't all be real anyways right? I must be dreaming... I must be.

#40 Posted by alternate (2720 posts) -

The 3m was what they expected to sell - actual figures were not given, only that they were below these expectations.

#41 Edited by natedawg_kz (236 posts) -

Also Hitman: Absolution sold 3.6 million and Sleeping Dogs sold 1.75 million and that is not counting steam sales and digital downloads from PSN, sad times:(

#42 Edited by PenguinDust (12627 posts) -

I have to wonder what they expected to sell because 3.5 to 4 million in a month is damned good in my book. In just 1 month, this has become the best selling Tomb Raider game since 1999! Who knows what its lifetime totals will be? I don't know how they could expect any better in this short amount of time.

I think this is a set up and they wanted the guy at the top out to show shareholders that they're doing something about their stock. For reasons unclear, they had to slash 2012 earnings forecasts to reflect higher net losses and lower net income. That type of fiscal humiliation demands strong change and restructuring at the highest level. It's not their successes that these business leaders are measured by, it's their failures. Sometimes, seeing the difference between the two gets blurred.

#43 Edited by Jimbo (9988 posts) -

@geraltitude said:

If you see the number 3.5 million and think "those are good sales," please leave this reality and stop frustrating my brain with your stupidity.

To know if a game sold well you have to know the budget, the price per unit, and the sales.

If you don't know the budget, and you are making a claim as to how well a game sold...

Again. Please. Leave this reality. You can't all be real anyways right? I must be dreaming... I must be.

Nah, you know that the budget would have to be incredibly, ludicrously high compared to other similar games in order for those not to be 'good' sales. If they still aren't 'good enough' sales then the fault rests entirely with the development costs, because those are good numbers for a by-the-numbers Uncharted knock-off to be selling.

#44 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3535 posts) -

@jimbo: Of course the fault is development costs, what else would it be?

If I make a $5 game for 1000 dollars and it sells 2 copies, that sucks. If I make a $5 game for 2 dollars and it sells 100 copies that is amazing. If I tell you a $59.99 game sold 3.5 million copies how can you tell me how well it sold? Comparing it to the sales of other games, similar or not, gives us an idea of how it performed in the market, but still says nothing about "how well it sold," i.e., how much of its costs it recouped / profits it made.

I'm not here at all to disagree with the notion that yes, it's too bad 3.5 million was not enough to be (so far) considered successful - just like it's a shame Kingdoms of Amalur and Sleeping Dogs are not "successes" - but there's a reality to the situation and the reality isn't just "publisher expectations are too high". Game budgets are too high and gamer expectations are too high too. But alas, a topic for another day.

#45 Posted by Jimbo (9988 posts) -

@jimbo: Of course the fault is development costs, what else would it be?

If I make a $5 game for 1000 dollars and it sells 2 copies, that sucks. If I make a $5 game for 2 dollars and it sells 100 copies that is amazing. If I tell you a $59.99 game sold 3.5 million copies how can you tell me how well it sold? Comparing it to the sales of other games, similar or not, gives us an idea of how it performed in the market, but still says nothing about "how well it sold," i.e., how much of its costs it recouped / profits it made.

I'm not here at all to disagree with the notion that yes, it's too bad 3.5 million was not enough to be (so far) considered successful - just like it's a shame Kingdoms of Amalur and Sleeping Dogs are not "successes" - but there's a reality to the situation and the reality isn't just "publisher expectations are too high". Game budgets are too high and gamer expectations are too high too. But alas, a topic for another day.

No that's exactly what the reality is in this case. This game is selling as well as anybody could have reasonably expected it to sell. It has comfortably returned enough money to the publisher (~$100M on ~$200M worth of sales, so far) to cover what a game like this should have cost to develop and advertise. Unless something went drastically wrong during development (like $40M falling into a fire) then they'll already be making a profit on this game.

There's nothing wrong with gamers' expectations in this case. This model is perfectly sustainable unless they went way over (like 2-3x over) what games like this have been made for in the past. If they somehow managed to do that (unlikely) then it's just their own incompetence to blame, not an inherent problem with the business model.

Tomb Raider itself is doing just fine, just not well enough to carry the rest of the company, which is evidently what they were unrealistically pinning all of their hopes on.

#46 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3535 posts) -

200 million is no where near what the publisher and developer will see. You can't quote gross sales... they don't see anywhere near that. but, anyways:

Where have you read proof that the reason for this game not meeting its "sales expectations" is that it had to "carry the company"?

It's just weird, the reaction to this news. Square has been publishing lots of really awesome games in NA and so far what they've been guilty of is allowing the games to exist in development for too long, case in point: Sleeping Dogs. That game shouldn't need to sell more than 2 million or whatever, but it does. And it didn't.

Well, maybe it will one day. It could.

#47 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4701 posts) -

Geez. Costs are crazy high for games now, eh. No wonder so many smaller studios are getting shut down. I do not like this trend and hope to see more games of Sleeping Dogs/Tomb raider quality from Edios.

#48 Edited by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

On the subject of Sleeping Dogs, I'm curious as to how the finances behind that game worked out. It was started and stopped by Activision multiple times, cancelled a final time, the game rights (but not the IP) was sold to Square Enix, who then spent another year or so having the developer finish the game before putting it out on shelves. How much did Activision spend on development? How much did Square Enix pay Activision for the game? How much did Square Enix pay to have the game finished? And how does all of that compare to sales of the game and DLC?

#49 Posted by Pudge (922 posts) -

Game costs may be too high, but I just can't see game prices going above $60 on a regular basis. It's so hard for a title nowadays to retain that $60 price point in a retail store. Hell, Dead Space 3 was selling for $30 last week, is that game even a month old yet? Not to mention all the stuff happening on the PC side of things, where you have pre-order bonuses and TF2 offers and all this other stuff that drives down the percieved value of brand new titles, and most of them on PC are still $50. They had to giveaway copies of XCOM to get people to preorder Bioshock, and you can get copies of it on EBay right now for $30-$40 already because of that and the AMD graphics card giveaways.

Unless publishers can find a way right now to make a game valuable enough to be worth $60 two weeks out from release, no one is going to shell out $80 at launch for a AAA title in the future.

#50 Edited by DarthOrange (3893 posts) -

Uncharted 3, the sequel to one of the highest rated games of all time has sold about 5.75 (if you trust VGChartz) to date. Did they really expect Tomb Raider to outsell that in only a few weeks time? It would be like EA expecting the next Battlefield to sell more then the next Call of Duty.

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