Ico sales

So I come across, once again, the claim that Ico bombed.

Now, my guess is that this must be because of excessive marketing costs, because I cannot imagine how a game that sells 650,000 copies could otherwise be considered a poor seller.

650,000 * average sale price of $30 = $19,500,000 gross, just so we know what we’re dealing with.


I was gonna say I dont see how its possible that it bombed I mean really 20 million isnt bad. What could the game cost to make?

I came across a claim the other day too. Something about four corner days and being educated stupid.

Where did you see that it had sold 650K units?

650,000 * average income to developer of $2 = $1.3 million, or barely enough to employ 8 people for 2 years. How many people do you need to make a PS2 game?

Developers just get screwed, in general. I don’t actually know what their deal was, or whether they got more than $2/unit, or whatever. Actually I don’t know anything about the developer at all, this is just a random example.

Usually though when it is said “a game bombs” it means bombs for the publisher. Which in this case probably means it didn’t make the publishers as much money as some other game they could have funded. Because often, even moderate hits bomb for the developer. That’s the way the finances are set up.

Don’t know about that average sale price. I seem to remember that ICO was at something like 70k units in the US a couple of years ago per NPD and Japan not being much different. If its true that it has sold 650k (got a link?) then the vast majority of it was probably under $20 so that $30 average price is likely high.

Developers just get screwed, in general. I don’t actually know what their deal was, or whether they got more than $2/unit, or whatever. Actually I don’t know anything about the developer at all, this is just a random example.

Well, since Ico was developed by a Sony internal team, this isn’t the best example, but I agree with your point.

This is a cop out, but I’m told that the official Jap site has the numbers: http://www.i-c-o.net/main/new_main_itv.html

Looking for English citations, I ran into a couple that said it only sold 180k in the U.S. and 200K in japan or whatnot, which jives with 650k worldwide anyway.

From http://forums.mogusland.com/archive/index.php/t-15767.html
and http://www.playnow.com.au/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=010196

Sony’s ICO development team has confirmed that a new title is under development, they plan to reveal the title in near future. The team has also revealed the worldwide sales of ICO, which is around 650,000 copies; and the breakdown is as follows:

* USA (09/26/01) - 250,000 units
* Japan (12/06/01) - 160,000 units
* Asia (01/13/02) - 20,000 units
* South Korea (02/22/02) - 20,000 units
* Europe (03/20/02) - 200,000 units

If that’s a flop, I want to become a video game publisher and have a string of flops to my name.

Devs usually get more than that. At least 5, normally, for a console game. PC games, up to 10.

edit: thought that’s assuming a decent deal with the publisher.

I wouldn’t be surprised if two factors are subconsciously at work here: A lot of people lament the fact that “strange and interesting games never sell,” and a lot of people lament how good but strange games often get terrible marketing. I think you may be seeing a case of people hearing “Ico did not meet our expectations,” and subconsciously twisting that into “Ico sold poorly,” based partially on those factors.

(And, in the interests of full disclosure, I have no idea what kind of marketing Ico got, but if the game’s U.S. box art is any indication, it must have been truly terrible.)

[I know Charles knows the below, but I am mainly running through the numbers as my own thought experiment].

Those are assuming full price, right, $50-$55?

If the average price is down near 1/2 of that, those numbers would be scaled appropriately.

Let’s take your best example of $10/box on a full priced game (that is an amazing deal btw, I think only a few people get that). MSRP initially $55. Average price of $30 as posited earlier in the thread, that’s $5.45/box. Times 650,000 = $3.5 million. If it took 2 years to develop (lots of games take more!) that’s $1.75 million per year. If they have an average of 25 people on that game for the 2-year period (moderately sized team!) that’s $70000/person, which may be a little above breakeven or a little below, depending on where the studio is, after you talk about renting the office, insurance, buying computers and dev kits and dev software, and all that crap you know about.

So if this developer manages only to make a 650,000-selling game every 2 years they are basically living hand-to-mouth and are in danger of going out of business as soon as they slip a couple of milestones.

Developers do not want to live that way (though most do anyway), so you can see considering sales of 650,000 to be a disappointment even if you have an amazing deal of $10/box.

And yeah, I read the earlier response about the Ico guys being an internal studio; I am just talking about in general.

$10 only applies to PC games (and is a decent deal, yes). Console games never get a deal like that because of licensing fees. But yes, nowadays it takes a huge amount of sales simply to break even. It’s disgusting.

It was like a journey back into the 1980s, wasn’t it? Into the dark night of insultingly bland westernizations of Japanese designs.

Hummmm, it is Strider Hiryu. He will never leave Eurasia without a ponytail and steroids.

And his laser gun. All ninjas have laser guns. And can we get a cigar in there too?