News: Persona 5 Exceeds Expectations

Persona 5 was a lot better than Final Fantasy XV.
Persona: the series that would be king.

Persona 5 Sales Continue to Impress

Since the halcyon days of the PS2 era and the subsequent implosion of Square Enix the Shin Megami Tensei series has been arguably the best franchise in JRPG gaming, and if not that then certainly the most creative. Despite this the series has long been regarded as a niche property insofar as sales were concerned. Games would release and sell maybe a couple of hundred thousand copies, but Shin Megami Tensei found it difficult to expand beyond this audience. This began to change with the release of Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden, and was then given a substantial shake-up by successful animes based on the franchise, along with fighting and rhythm based spin-off games – but the question remained: to what extent would this exposure effect the sales of a core entry in the franchise?

It turns out by quite a lot. The last we had heard of it Persona 5 had shipped over a million units to retailers, but this week Sega’s Toshihiro Nagoshi revealed that the game has now shipped over 1.8 million units to retailers. Shipped figures are never as useful as actual sales data, as it is unclear how many of these games have been sold through to actual consumers. That being said, the fact that the number of units shipped continues to grow means that the demand is there, and thus this is not merely over-shipped stock that will have to be eventually bought back and disposed of. If 1.8 million units have been shipped, then one would think that at an absolute bare minimum 1.6 million units of Persona 5 have probably been sold. It is genuinely great to see such a quality series finally being recognised and gaining mainstream traction. Square Enix are going to have to start losing to their Japanese peers if they are to ever truly acknowledge and fix the problems with their games. They need to be told that it is not OK to release a game when it is a half finished project – no matter the graphical quality.

1-2-Switch is a million seller!
Nintendo’s Switch hasn’t run out of steam yet.

Switch’s Momentum Continues Unabated

The runaway success of the Nintendo Switch caught us all a little by surprise, not least because it has made most of the same mistakes as the Wii U, only at a higher price point – but far from being punished for them, Nintendo is actually being rewarded. That being said, nobody can argue that the Switch has not had a successful launch, at least in the US and Japan. This is not so much the case in PAL regions, due to some very uncompetitive pricing on Nintendo’s part. When Arms debuted in June it was outsold in the UK in its first week on sale by Horizon: Zero Dawn, which was in its sixteenth week on sale – 11,764 to 16,692. In that same week Arms shot to the top of the US charts, selling 183,864 copies to Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s 20,638 units of sales. The regional disparity is very real here.

Regardless of the Switch’s market position in the UK, it is doing very well in the US and Japan, and it has the sales figures to prove it. As of June 30 2017 the Switch has sold 4.70 million units. Given that since 2012 Nintendo has still only managed to sell 13.56 million Wii U systems, it means that the Switch has managed to sell over a third of the Wii U’s lifetime sales in just four months. This being said, the Wii U did manage to sell 3.45 million units in its first four months, so the disparity here is not as large as one might think.

Within this time period the Nintendo Switch has managed to shift 13.60 million units of software, meaning that 2.8 games have been purchased on average for every Switch console – not bad for a system without any original games. In just four months Nintendo has managed to have four million selling pieces of first party software on their hands: ports of Wii U games Breath of the Wild [3.92m] and Mario Kart 8 [3.54m], new IP Arms [1.18m], and incredibly the gimmicky flash graphics shitfest that was 1-2-Switch. It really does pay to be a launch title on a system with no games!

There is no profit in this for them.
Blizzard continues their war against people seeking a nostalgic WoW experience.

Blizzard Shuts Down Another Fan Server

These days the games as they are launched are increasingly not the games as they end up being. That is to say that the 1.0 version is very rarely the finished article. Final Fantasy XV as it launched was a very different experience from the one that exists today, and the planned content changes show no signs of slowing. Of course when we talk about regular single player type games the additions that are patched in usually serve to objectively improve the experience, but this is not necessarily the case with online oriented games, especially MMOs. Due to the massive demand for vast amounts of content MMOs are subject to radical changes over their lifetime, and those changes are not always for the better.

When Blizzard initially shoah’d Nostalrius, a very popular WoW fan server, they made noises about possibly starting up an official paid vanilla server to service this very obvious need. This obviously did not happen. If Blizzard had started up a legacy World of Warcraft server to recreate the experience as it existed at launch, then shutting down Nostalrius would have been entirely justified. The fact that this did not happen lays bare the fact that Blizzard only mentioned starting up a legacy server in order to deflect criticism – justified criticism as it turns out.

Now Blizzard have shut down a fan server [Felmyst] dedicated to to the game at the time of The Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft‘s first expansion. This was no threat to modern day World of Warcraft. These are not people that would otherwise be paying Blizzard subscription fees. These are fans of a game that no longer exists in any official capacity. As Mark Kern, World of Warcraft‘s initial lead designer, puts it:

Blizzard spends more on legal fees shutting down severs than it would cost to put up their own vanilla WoW server.

Blizzard has no plans to sell this content, so shutting down these fan servers just comes across as being mean spirited. Moreover it is, as Kern points out, expensive and pointless. Blizzard may have ultimately been successful in using their expensive lawyers to shut down Nostalrius, but it was not long until the code was re-launched on the Elysium server by a different team. Blizzard should try not to be such dicks, it is costing them money.

One comment

  1. This being said, the Wii U did manage to sell 3.45 million units in its first four months, so the disparity here is not as large as one might think.

    Nintendo has seldom had a problem with slow starts (the Virtual Boy’s excessive price is the noticeable exception). The problem for Nintendo is what to do when the Nintendonlys have all got their systems. At that point, sales crash and no third-party software except ports develops, and the system dies. And then Nintendo rushes a new product to market, screwing over their customer base and alienating still more people.

    It’s an interesting way to do business, but not, I think, one likely to ensure long-term success.

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