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GTA: Chinatown Wars Did Not Sell Especially Well

Perhaps that's an understatement.

Apparently you aren't interested in dual-screen criminalism.
Apparently you aren't interested in dual-screen criminalism.
The NPD Group's monthly sales figures dropped today, delivering the company's estimated game sales figures for the month of March. While there's a complete look at software and hardware sales in there, the number everyone is focusing in on right now is the one attached to Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Though it was a mid-month release and, obviously, only had about two weeks of sales in the month, The DS-only GTA raked in sales around the 89,000 mark.

I try to avoid too many stories about sales figures because I'm not an analyst, and most of you reading this site aren't, either. But when the world's largest modern video game franchise can't breakthrough and give people a good reason to get M-rated on one of the most pervasive platforms of all time--the Nintendo DS--it sends a pretty clear message across the industry. I have to imagine that any DS game publisher that didn't already know that the sales were coming in under expectations is probably looking at the spreadsheet of sales figures and planning development accordingly. In short, I wouldn't expect to see a ton of adult-targeted DS games in the future, and I wouldn't be surprised if this had a similarly chilling effect on Wii development.

The truly disappointing part, of course, is that Chinatown Wars is an amazing game that makes great use of the DS while still providing a decidedly GTA-like experience. It didn't feel half-assed in any way, it came along with terrific worth of mouth, high review scores, and a pretty decent marketing push, too. But if the audience isn't interested in that style of content, no amount of marketing will convince them to buy it en masse.

And I could be wrong, but this looks like a case of the audience sending a pretty clear message about what it wants on the DS. What do you think?
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+