Do good games sell more copies?

This is a great analysis of PS2 game sales and Metacritic scores for games released through December 2006. There are a few conclusions that I think can be drawn from this:

  • For a game to truly reach blockbuster status, it must be good.
  • There are many games that are good, but which don’t sell many copies.
  • Regardless of what you may have heard about the PS2 install base and how it makes any game project profitable due to its size, there are a lot of games out there that will not make back their development costs. Even if you double the North American sales for a title (generally accepted to be a crude estimate for worldwide sales), many titles are still well south of half a million copies.

This kind of data really convinces me that Wii development is not the panacea for game developer profitability that some suggest. The mass market still must be regularly “convinced” to buy new games — it’s not like the hardcore market that Microsoft and Sony court, which keeps up-to-date on gaming news of its own volition and buys 10-12 games a year. Smaller-budget Wii games simply aren’t going to get much of a marketing push, and will face stiff competition from their peers as well as Nintendo itself. I’m also convinced that Wii consumers will still overwhelmingly prefer to buy Nintendo-produced games — this has been borne out by the sales figures released so far.

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