A Tale of Two Empires

By Alec Meer on March 10th, 2009 at 10:21 am.

As if more proof were needed that Febrooairy and Marrtch were months made of strategy, we hear glad tidings of little army men achieving great commercial success. Across the world (including the US, UK and Oz) last week, Dawn of War II hit the top of the PC charts like a, er, Space Marine hitting a pile of Orks with a powerfist. Or something. God, it’s too early for tortorous similes.

However, come this week in the UK, DOWII’s down to number 3 in the PC charts, below the latest instalment of perennial UK man-magnet Football Manager. In the all-formats chart, it places a mere 29th. DOOM! PC GAMING, DEAD! DEAD LIKE MY ABILITY TO DEVISE FUNNY SIMILES! Except… we have a new champion. One that achieves even greater success.

Sitting pretty at number one in the UK PC chart is Empire: Total War. And at number one in the all formats chart? Woo-hoo! Empire: Total War, possibly the most PC-gamey game of all-time, is master of all it surveys. Eat that, Killzone 2 and Halo Wars. The PC is the ultimate champion once again – coo in envy and mild arousal as it performs the crab most muscular.

No word on its Yankee chart-placement yet, which is likely to be interesting. Empire’s Euro-focus, despite the introductory War of Independence campaign, seemed to rile a few of our more patriotic American readers a little while back – could there be a general sentiment that ETW be disrepectin’ the colonies?

Amusingly, I note that the game features different box art in the UK and US. It’s the same shouting Sean Bean-alike front’n'centre, but in the UK he’s wearing a red coat with a British flag waving behind him. In the US? Why, blue coat and star-spangled banner. See above for empirical proof.

LOLZOR. Though it totally makes sense, of course: that evil motherland-celebrating redcoat box sat on US store shelves would have riled tempers enormously. It’ll certainly be fascinating to see if ETW can achieve the same success in the US, or if there’s a genuinely a political/cultural/historical obstacle between it and megabucks.

Update – seems like there’s a ton of different Empires. LOLZOR once more:

Thanks to Winfred van Heerebeek for pointing that out.

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141 Comments »

  1. Feet says:

    LOLZOR indeed.

  2. Jay says:

    Arf, didn’t notice until it was mentioned

  3. Bobsy says:

    What the hell what the hell man! Is Fake-Sean-Bean switchin’ sides on us? TRAITOR. Damn colonies and your democracy.

    Also, note how the American version is dark and super-gritty, but the Euro version is all bright lolfag colours. First Diablo and now this. I did wonder why all my cavalry were riding unicorns and Aslans.

  4. Morgawr says:

    Empire Total War is also No.1 on Steam and Direct2Drive which makes its number one placing on the All Formats chart even more of a success. It seems retail and digital distribution can successfully coexist.

  5. Heliocentric says:

    CA are not credited on the front of the us box, curious. Also the british box? MOAR BAOT PLZ

  6. grasskit says:

    actually for me it looks more like Ioan Gruffudd (Hornblower TV series) on the cover

  7. Heliocentric says:

    CANT ONE OF THEM BE SMILING? Remember that kirby box art? the japanese kirby was happy. Maybe japanese sean bean will smile too.

  8. Theoban says:

    I like that on the US version the ships seem further away. Someone’s scared of naval superiority….

  9. Bobsy says:

    He looks nothing like Hornblower. He can’t stretch his body like rubber for one Thing.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    More proof that the 1700s employed clone armies to resolve territorial issues?

  11. Spiny says:

    What, no Welsh cover?

    (lol :))

  12. Ian says:

    An RTS with stretchy-limbed units? That’d be Fantastic.

  13. Ben Abraham says:

    Oh, you thought the ETW musket man was a Sean Bean-alike? I thought he was the spitting image of Horatio Hornblower, and that would make sense with the new Nautical additions.

  14. Bobsy says:

    Hornblower wouldn’t scream like that.

  15. Seniath says:

    First time this (a PC Game being top of the All Format charts) has happened since Oct. 2007, according to GamesIndustry.biz.

  16. Rei Onryou says:

    Clever marketing. No doubt the English cover version would get banned in certain states. Instead, it’s guaranteed to pull those Yanks in. Well done you.

  17. Davee says:

    Hey! You forgot the Swedish version! Atleast PC Gamer Sweden-magazine had one on the cover. Also, it’s awesome to hear that ETW is doing so well on the charts – and it should be, beeing such a great game ;)

  18. grasskit says:

    Bobsy says:
    Hornblower wouldn’t scream like that

    hah!

  19. The Hammer says:

    Frigging awesome news. Really great to see a PC game top the charts. Hats off to you, Creative Assembly! <3

  20. Tei says:

    It fit my opinion for national identities. All nations are photoshop identities.

    But what I know? I am anarchist.

  21. Rob says:

    I thought it had to be doing well from the number of consecutive players over at Steam, a peak of 37,885 over the last 24 hours – finally kicking FM 2009 down to #4.

  22. Lindsay Cooper says:

    [i]“Hornblower wouldn’t scream like that”[/i]

    Haha! You obviously haven’t seen the ‘FIYYYYAAAAAAH’ shot!

  23. Larington says:

    Hi Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo.
    What? Oh you’re not happy about how your consistent marketting campaigns for your consoles currently seem to be, uh, having a lesser impact.

    Thats a shame isn’t it.

    What a shame.

  24. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Cooper
    Is that the one when he was played as Sly Stallone as Demolition Man? In the 1980s?

  25. Richard Beer says:

    What a bitingly satirical comment on the horror of War. Everyone thinks their forces are the heroes, the glorious patriots destroying the evil, hateful enemy. But every soldier who dies is someone’s son or daughter, a father or a sister! We are all ONE!

    Now let me save up my pennies so I can kill Them in the face.

  26. Marianna says:

    Aw, no Italian version? Boo, no one cares for my little paeninsula.
    It would have just required a little more work. Just the guy’s back as he’s running away. Screaming.

  27. Klumhru says:

    “Hornblower wouldn’t scream like that”

    Most true, he’d be crouched in a corner sawing away at his wrist with his 50 guinea sword (presented by the most patriotic fund) ;)

    Those box arts are neat though, seeing as you can play as most of those countries. I do feel a little bad that you cannot play as the yanks – aside from the relatively short RTI campaign – seeing as the rise of the United States is an event in the game (quickly squashed by my British Empire of course), so the nationality is in fact included in the game proper. The moddability of the TW games will almost certainly spawn a playable addition of the faction. The wait for a mod portraying the Napoleonic wars will hardly be long either.

  28. Malagate says:

    @Marianna, of course there’s an Italian version. It’s called Rome: Total War.

    /gets coat

  29. Lukasz says:

    @Klumhru

    The probability of seeing Napoleonic War as official addon is quite high.

    But i would prefer to see asai again in total war.

  30. Ginger Yellow says:

    There seems to be a pretty huge, though entirely understandable, transatlantic gap in audience for the Total War games. Hardly any of the US based podcasts I listen to (and I listen to pretty much all of them) have done more than mention it in passing. PCG:US had to get Tim Edwards on the phone to talk about it because none of the US guys had played it at all, after it had been released! The GWJ guys were far more interested in the Entrenchment expansion for Sins.

    Like I said, it’s understandable in that the UK has a much more PC gaming culture and the Americans are only sort of in it, but still. You’d think people working for a PC gaming magazine would have played one of the biggest games all year several days after its release.

  31. Okami says:

    @Marianna: Well, Italy really wasn’t one of the major powers of the 18th century. Actually, there was no such thing as an italian state during that time. What I think is a lot more outrageous is the lack of austrian/habsburgian cover artwork. After all the Habsburgs are one of the major powers of Empire:Total War and the game is sold in Austria.. Though what’s worse than no austrian cover art is the fact that austrian troops talk with german accents in-game. Blasphemy!

  32. mrmud says:

    That is indeed quite disturbing

  33. Mark Roberts says:

    Heh, I took the games Euro-Centric views and shoved em where the sun don’t shine by kicking the British out of my country…and then I invaded Mexico…

  34. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the Scottish box art says English people are [stop that - RPS] for once again confusing the word England with BRITAIN!

    Jesus it’s not hard England is the shit part of Britain where trains are late and the NHS pays mercenary doctors to kill old people and Britain or Great Britain as we’re bold enough to call it is the whole island Scottish drunks and welsh sheep and all.

  35. Markoff Chaney says:

    Huzzah! Excellent news indeed! I have to laugh at the different covers – social engineering at its finest, it is. I almost want to pick this up, if I can get over my RTS dislikes. I’m hoping that the slow action of having to manually reload their rifles may actually slow it down enough that this Turn Based guy may enjoy himself. I’ve heard bad things about consistent hard locks (Video driver related?) from some people, but I’ve heard so much good about this game…

    At least I’d get to play some of the more interesting battles from history. I’d get to be not only some of the greatest Empires this blue ball has seen thus far but I’d also get a mini campaign where I can direct a fledgling Republic before they succumbed to the destructive forces of privilege and “Democracy” and defecated over all that they were founded for. Huzzah!

  36. Andrew Dunn says:

    Not bad, Creative Assembly. Not bad at all!

    Well done to them, they deserve it.

  37. unclelou says:

    Like I said, it’s understandable in that the UK has a much more PC gaming culture and the Americans are only sort of in it, but still. You’d think people working for a PC gaming magazine would have played one of the biggest games all year several days after its release.

    Serious question: is that true? It has always been my impression that the UK has been a console-country, while the US were PC gamers (until the Xbox(es)) arrived at least.

    I remember making fun of you crazy British in the early 90s when I saw your charts. ;)

  38. Dain says:

    Interesting thought: Is the reverse true? Are Europeans turned off by American centric games? All evidence seems to point to the answer being “No” but perhaps I’m missing something.

    Perhaps it’s the same reason US versions of television shows and films are made.. I’ve never fully understood that one either.

  39. Saul says:

    Well, you know, take a little DNA from Sean Bean and a little from Ioan Grufford. Place in a large test tube. With weird science, anything is possible!!

  40. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Serious question: is that true? It has always been my impression that the UK has been a console-country, while the US were PC gamers (until the Xbox(es)) arrived at least.”

    I’m willing to be proved wrong, but that’s the polar opposite of my understanding. Consoles didn’t really take off in the UK until the Playstation – before then most gaming was on the BBC Micro/Spectrum/C64/Amiga, and a lot of those gamers moved on to the PC when it became a decent games platform. The SNES and Megadrive had a fairly small following, but the NES, which was huge in the States, was pretty much ignored. The only people I knew as a kid who had one were expat Americans.

    The biggest franchise in the UK – Football Manager – is as PC as they come, whereas Madden in the US clearly is not. And just look at the relative prominence of PC games on Eurogamer versus 1Up.

  41. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’ve got my gripes with eurogamer, they constantly and deliberately avoid mentioning pc versions of in development games or even games that have been released they’re waging a personal campaign of format genocide against PC’s imo (except where it can’t be avoided ala Empre & DOW2)

  42. Markoff Chaney says:

    Apologies if my prior comments caused issues. That was neither my intention nor desire. Apologies. I’ll endeavor to only leave pithy comments going forward, but I’ll probably fail at that as well.

  43. ET says:

    B-but what if I live in the US but want some redcoat action? Didn’t anyone in marketing think of me or the three other people like me?

    *sob*

  44. Paul Moloney says:

    That’s cool. Just curious; when was the last time a PC-only game topped the all-formats chart?

    P.

  45. redcoat says:

    i’m enjoying the shitstorm over the dishonest crippling and hiding of the “special forces units” on the discs you buy. it took no time before people found out that all the info to play with them was right there all along and simple modding could put them back in instead of their rip-off. I heard that to get all the “special” units from the various limited offers here and there you’d have to pay $150 or something and gather all the versions together to get a complete set. garbage.

    of course now they’re threatening people who simply mod them in instead of paying. looks like the days of modders looking through the discs or installations to find unused material is long gone. heck, this is the first step on the road to barring open modding altogether. they’ll claim it is “ILLEGAL” or some shit. what if i simply mod in similar or identical units i make myself? either they’ll claim that too is “ILLEGAL” or it won’t be long before they bar everyone from it.

    this is even worse than the horse armour nonsense. rot in hell, ca.

    combining this with the horrible drm, bugs and unfinished products and it’s the dying days of (mainstream) pc gaming. certainly the golden ages are long dead now. for shame. mainstream pc gaming is going down the toilet. if this is what we can expect then i won’t even miss it.

    good riddance.

  46. Bobsy says:

    @ET: The tea’s in the post.

    Oh no wait, hang on. Boston Harbour, I meant to say. Not post. The tea’s in Boston Harbour.

  47. Ginger Yellow says:

    Multiformat, especially console-led, games are one thing, but Eurogamer gives far more prominence to PC-focused titles like Empire or World of Goo than the US sites do. It’s especially noticeable with indie titles. Compare the coverage of Flower or Braid with World of Goo or Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People.

  48. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Just curious; when was the last time a PC-only game topped the all-formats chart?”

    When did the most recent Football Manager come out?

  49. unclelou says:

    combining this with the horrible drm, bugs and unfinished products and it’s the dying days of (mainstream) pc gaming. certainly the golden ages are long dead now. for shame. mainstream pc gaming is going down the toilet. if this is what we can expect then i won’t even miss it.

    What a busload of hyperbole because of a few special units. Of course they’re on every disc, how were you supposed to play multiplayer again someone with them otherwise?

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