The games industry's biggest blockbusters are recovering after disappointing opening week sales.
As reported in MCV last month (MCV 763 8/11/13), the launch week sales of Battlefield 4 were down 69 per cent over Battlefield 3, while Assassin's Creed IV fell 60 per cent compared to Assassin's Creed III.
FIFA arguably performed the best, with FIFA 14 sales down a 'mere' 24 per cent over FIFA 13.
Industry execs told MCV at the time that fans were waiting for the launch of PS4 and Xbox One to buy the games. Activision's Roy Stackhouse, EA's Patrick Soderlund, Sony’s Fergal Gara and Microsoft's Phil Harrison all insisted that these blockbuster titles will perform better once the new machines are launched.
And the latest data from GfK Chart-Track suggest they may have been right.
FIFA 14 sales have spiked significantly since the arrival of next-gen consoles. The game was bundle with many Xbox One consoles (81 per cent of all Xbox One owners own a copy), while it performed strongly on PS4 (42 per cent of all PS4 owners bought the game). Now FIFA 14 is just 1.74 per cent behind the sales of FIFA 13, and if it continues on its current trajectory, it will be the biggest selling FIFA game ever.
Call of Duty: Ghosts sales have also improved significantly, and is currently the second best-selling game on Xbox One and No.3 on PS4. At launch the title was down 50 per cent over last year's Black Ops II, but after six weeks and the arrival of PS4 and Xbox One, the sales gap has reduced 34.4 per cent.
The games that suffered the most worrying declines were Assassin's Creed IV and Battlefield 4, which failed to sell anywhere near their predecessors on Xbox 360 and PS3 – despite strong reviews. But these titles have rebounded significantly on the PS4 and Xbox One. Assassin's Creed IV's launch saw 60 per cent fewer units sold than Assassins Creed III, but after seven weeks that gap has been cut to 30.4 per cent. Meanwhile Battlefield 4 has reduced its gap from 69 per cent to 32.5 per cent.
Despite the improvement, these games (except FIFA) are unlikely to match their predecessors. New consoles have caused consumer spending to switched from software to hardware and franchise fatigue may well be a big factor. Judging by the responses to our media and retail survey results last week, there is a strong demand for new IP, particularly Watch Dogs, Destiny and Titanfall.
Yet the severe gaps have been reduced significantly, which should act as an encouraging sign for Ubisoft, Activision and EA. For all the talk of new IP, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, FIFA and Battlefield will continue to play a major role on the new games consoles.