When the trade clicked open its Monday morning UKIE charts update this week, the big story was the data that wasn’t listed.
Max Payne may be a worthy No.1. But with a three day headstart and a passionately connected PC audience Blizzard’s DiabloIII was undoubtedly the ‘real’ No.1 thanks to combined digital and physical sales.
Next Friday this story will take a twist as Rockstar releases the game across the likes of Steam, Gamersgate and Gamefly. This will help it catch up with Blizzard no doubt.
The two games jostling for top spot, however, is just a dramatic side effect. The real impact is how the titles’ publishers will be once again reminded of the digital/physical data debate.
Max Payne and Diablo both being No.1 and No.2 from various points of view highlights a long-foreseen flaw in the official charts. As you can see below left, GfK is the first to acknowledge this. We’ll have more insight from them next week.
In the meantime, understand this. When Blizzard and Rockstar Games – two of the most revered and creatively calculating studios – wake up to how crucial this issue is, the rest of the industry should follow. And fast.
Responses to last week’s cover story calling for a better spread of release dates included one soapbox pundit attempting to debunk genuine and deep-rooted concerns retailers have about the market.
To recap: there’s too much stuff coming out in a very short window in Q4.
Since we went to press, some big games have been shifted to Q1 2013. A few say this proves the industry is learning its lesson already.
But that’s not the case. If the grand planners behind these games had any foresight, the likes of BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry and others wouldn’t have been Q4 releases in the first place.
These games and others ambitiously wanted to be ready for Christmas – no doubt to fulfil publisher’s too-high expectations about Q4 spending. But they simply weren’t ready, a regular mistake developers make.
No matter what industry spectators say, those deep in the business know best: some habits are going to die
hard for boxed games publishers.