The cost of Blurs poor sales

A closer look at last week’s NPD results for the North American video games market courtesy of Gamasutra has revealed that Activision’s brand new racing IP Blur sold just 31,000 units across Xbox 360 and PS3 in its first five days on the market.

Other games that performed less well than anticipated include Disney Interactive’ Split/Second (86k) and Microsoft’s Alan Wake (145k).

Though Blur may well have gone on to sell plenty more in June, it’s highly unlikely that 31k unit sales will bring it anywhere near the levels Activision would have expected.

The publisher had previously claimed that from a business perspective, we are targeting Blur to do for racing what Call of Duty did for shooters”. Developer Bizarre said of the game that it was the start of something new”.

Blur is the result of Activision’s acquisition of UK studio Bizarre Creations in 2007. The deal was made with the express intention of allowing the publisher to break into the lucrative racing genre. Bizarre’s success with Microsoft’s Project Gotham series meant big things were expected from its new IP.

The game itself fared well with critics, averaging a very respectable 82 per cent on Metacritic. It was also backed with a clever marketing campaign that took a swipe at Nintendo’s Mario kart series and successfully caught the imagination of the internet community.

However, despite a delay to its release date to allow for extra development polish and the clever integration of some interesting social networking functionality, the game has failed to capture the attention of the buying public – a fact that was undoubtedly not helped by a rumoured rift between retailer GAME and Activision that saw the game receive poor support in the chain’s many UK outlets.

The game debuted at number 14 in the ELSPA GfK Chart-Track All Formats Top 40 in May. IT currently sits in 17th.

Furthermore, it had been previously reported that in addition to the $67.4m that Activision forked out for Bizarre, a further $40m in payments was dependent on Bizarre’s commercial performance, though current targets are believed to stretch until 2012/13.

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