The Daily Five: Sales Flops in Popular Franchises

October 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

Everyone reading this is great at something, even if it’s not necessarily something that will lead to fame and glory. I, for one, like to think that I’m an excellent driver. I take pride in it. But we can’t be great all of the time, can we? I’ve been in car collisions that were both my fault and not. It happens, but it’s important to learn from those mistakes and move on.

What I’m getting at here is that, in their own way, video games can be the same way. There are plenty of standout franchises that can’t help but be blockbuster successes with each release, but just like people, some of them take a stumble now and then. Sometimes they produce a dud, and sometimes they’re compiled into a list for people on the internet to read.

DmC: Devil May Cry

Sales for the Devil May Cry series are difficult to quantify, as it’s unclear what the numbers on Capcom’s official site really represent from a regional standpoint. The most generous, pre-DmC numbers from a company source put the series at about 10 million worldwide sales and suggested that Devil May Cry 3 and 4 sold about 4 and 2 million units respectively. The series was on a roll, even with the controversy generated from DMC4 going multiplatform.

This year’s release of DmC: Devil May Cry was good for about 1.1 million sales according to Capcom. It’s half of what Devil May Cry 4 sold despite the combined PS3 and Xbox 360 install base being much larger than it was in 2008. Long-time fans were upset by the changes to Dante’s appearance, and they spoke with their wallets, unlike when they promised to pass on DMC4 for going multiplatform.

The series probably isn’t going anywhere, but when it makes a return, it’ll definitely be called Devil May Cry 5 and they’ll most definitely go back to the original character design.

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

While some popular franchises stumble a bit and get right back at it, sometimes they fall on their faces so hard that they never get back up. That happened to Activision’s Guitar Hero, which was once on top of the gaming world — you’ll remember that 2007’s Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was the first game to reach $1 billion in sales.

From that point on the series was successful enough, but never quite reached the same heights. After a couple more years of music games saturating the market, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock — the sixth main game in the series, but the 14th overall — released to a completely disinterested market. Both Warriors of Rock and DJ Hero 2 sold less than 1 million combined units in 2010, which was 63% less than Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, and Band Hero the year before.

As a result, 2011’s Guitar Hero game was cancelled and the series has been silent ever since. Activision has said that the series isn’t necessarily dead, but we’re not holding our breath.

Gears of War: Judgment

Epic’s Gears of War series has proven to be an important exclusive in Microsoft’s library, a fact reinforced by hard data: Gears of War 3 sold over 3 million copies in its first month, while Gears 1 and 2 combined for 12 million. Even as a prequel developed by a studio other than Epic Games, Judgment should have been a big deal.

Instead, players seemed to shrug at the idea of playing a Gears prequel. While it ranked third in the month of March 2013, it sold a fraction of what Gears of War 3 sold in its first month. The March’s sales champ was BioShock Infinite at 878,000 copies, and the sixth-ranked Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon sold 415,000; whatever Gears’s number is in between, we doubt any of the higher ups at Microsoft were pleased with the result.

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