October 2017 NPD

Here are the software rankings for October 2017 (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales:

* 1. Middle-earth: Shadow of War
* 2. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
* 3. Super Mario Odyssey**
* 4. South Park: The Fractured But Whole
* 5. NBA 2K18
* 6. FIFA 18
* 7. WWE 2K18
* 8. Madden NFL 18
* 9. Destiny 2*
* 10. Forza Motorsport 7
* 11. Gran Turismo Sport
* 12. Grand Theft Auto V
* 13. The Evil Within 2**
* 14. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus**
* 15. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild**
* 16. Mario Kart 8**
* 17. Fire Emblem: Warriors**
* 18. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
* 19. NHL 18
* 20. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege

*No Battle.net sales
**No digital sales

Kind of disheartening to see that Wolfenstein 2 couldn’t beat GTA V for the month.

With no digital sales, those numbers are pretty useless for Wolf2.

Since one of Zenimax’s primary owners wants to do an exit, Bethesda has to start considering actions that will either maximize an IPO, or maximize the value of the company when selling it to another publisher (or another company that wants to enter the industry), big changes are likely on the horizon for the publisher.

Arkane’s Austin studio, which shares an office space with Battlecry studios, have job listings that point to the team working on an online-orientated game for their next project.

You need to put a backslash in front of the single asterisk, see http://commonmark.org/help

Or use the fancy footnote html entities

Change is slow, but it looks like GTA V Online’s success and Overwatch’s success are going to lead to industry-wide changes even more far reaching than I was already expecting. When even the Witcher developer is considering these changes, you know it’s happening across the board.

We can get a rough estimate for PC sales from Steamspy, but without digital numbers for the consoles we definitely don’t know the full story.

Edit: The October PSN chart doesn’t paint an encouraging picture for either of Bethesda’s games:

Right - I don’t know if 200,000 sales in 2-3 weeks at $60 on PC alone is good or bad for Bethesda and Machine Games, but it doesn’t really sound awful to me.

I’m just saying that Wolf2 is one of the only games in that list that doesn’t include digital sales, and many studios are reporting 50%+ of their sales coming digitally these days, so NPD alone is pretty useless.

I also remember reading that Machine Games is a relatively small developer, so despite its super flashy presentation I do wonder how much Wolf2 cost to develop compared to many other massive AAA games that came out this year.

Machine Games’ website is also still listing open positions, and Pete Hines just posted that all of their studios are currently hiring as well:

So hopefully things aren’t dire over there.

In addition to the bit with digital, Wolfenstein was released very late in the month. If all October releases had been on the market for the same time, it should probably be around 4th or 5th on that list. It’s ahead of South Park on Steam Spy, but far behind ME: Shadow of War and AC: Origins despite the latter being also available on Uplay.

So it’s not that Wolfenstein was any kind of Agents of Mayhem-level bomb (and I didn’t mean for my comment in the other thread to be taken like that). But it also didn’t get super great sales out of the gate, and the discounting started even earlier than normal for Bethesda.

As for whether it’s awful, let’s do a back of the envelope calculation:

  • It’s been 3.5 years since the release of The New Order.
  • According to the Swedish commercial registry (damn, I love Nordic open governance) they were a 100 person company at the end of 2016. There would have been more than that by the time the game released, but just 75 when they finished New Order. There might also be some rounding involved. So 100 seems like a close enough guess.
  • Guesstimate $100k/year as the fully loaded employee cost (note that just the mandatory costs paid by the employer in Sweden are going to be on the order of 40% on top of the actual salary).
  • Assume that any other costs like voice acting would have been insignificant.
  • They certainly didn’t spend anything on marketing.

That’d be about $35M on the cost side.

How about the sales?

  • The two consoles combined will sell about 4x copies more than the PC. (Estimated from last year’s Ubisoft financials). Given 200k PC sales, you’d get about 1M total sales so far. That’d be about $60M in gross revenue.
  • Steam is supposed to take a 30% cut. Let’s assume the same for consoles and retail (quite optimistic).
  • Based on the trajectory of other games, they’ll finish the year with about 350k-400k copies sold on Steam (1.75M-2M across all platforms). But given the steep discounting, those extra sales are going to bring in comparatively less money.

That’d give about $40M net sales to date, $60M by the end of the year.

The main problems with these estimates are the platform holder / store cut on consoles (I haven’t heard any numbers on those), and the assumption that Ubisoft platform distribution translates to Wolfenstein. Maybe the latter isn’t true (e.g. console gamers seem less happy about first person games than PC gamers). But these seem like potential 10% differences.

So it’ll definitely make a profit eventually, unless some number in the estimate is off by a far bigger factor than those discussed in the previous paragraph. There’s a chance it already broke even. But it’s also not going to be generating the kinds of huge profits publishers dream of (and kind of need to dream of, to justify the huge risks involved with game development).