Sony’s Spider-Man is proof that the right license still has the ability to shift big units

Following on from an all-round critical applause, Sony’s latest single-player epic has swung into town and smashed records at UK retail. The PS4 exclusive had the biggest week one sales of any title to date in 2018. Powered partly, no doubt, but its high-profile protagonist.

It edged out the Far Cry 5 for the top spot despite that title being multi-platform on Xbox One as well. And it smashed stablemate God of War, with almost twice the sales that Kratos racked up back in April.

And while it’s hard to compare historically, Spider-Man swept aside Horizon Zero Dawn with around 50 per cent more sales, and incredibly sold almost as many units as the mighty Uncharted 4 in its first week at retail. It’s a towering achievement and proves that a highly-recognisable character, in a great game, is still a way to shift units.

That’s in an industry that has shied away from such licenses for some time, preferring (understandably) to create and develop its own IP over utilising those created by Hollywood and others. Of course, in this case, Sony’s part-ownership of the Spider-Man brand, too complex to go into here, is a big factor.

However, those unit numbers speak for themselves, which leads to the question, where are the big-budget games based around other big licensed characters and worlds?

The travails of a big single-player Star Wars game are well-documented of course, but other top heroes from the Marvel universe, and the DC universe for that matter, are highly underrepresented. Then there’s cinematic franchises such as Transformers and Harry Potter, which could use big-budget titles to serve their ongoing fanbases.

All that said, we don’t want to take anything away from Sony and Insomniac Games for crafting a brilliant piece of software, quality sells games, it just sells them better when you have Spider-Man on the cover. 

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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