Byte vs Brick: Week Ending Oct 1

By Alec Meer on October 3rd, 2011 at 10:27 am.

Hello, nurse. You *are* a nurse, aren't you?

And again! A not entirely industry-representative yet unquestionably fascinating/depressing look at what comprised the top ten PC game sales for Steam compared to UK retail over the last week. Will The Sims’ dominance of retail continue unabated? (Obviously). Will there be any surprise returns to the Steam top ten? (Yeah, actually). Read on to find out the answers to both these questions and more, as long as those questions concern the chart-placing of contemporary PC games. If you want to find out the answer to what the Queen had for breakfast this morning or where Muammar Gaddafi is hiding, I really cannot recommend reading the rest of this post.

Steam:

Note – includes pre-orders, but the UK retail chart does not.

1. Dead Island
2. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
3. A Game of Thrones: Genesis
4. Total War: Shogun 2
5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
6. F1 2011
7. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
8. Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition
9. Total War: Shogun 2 – Rise of the Samurai
10. Fallout: New Vegas – Lonesome Road

So, well done The Witcher 2 and Blood Bowl – sales and updates have done you great favours. Obviously the industry trend is towards paid DLC – hello Shogun 2 and Fallout: New Vegas – but the Witcher 2′s placement there suggests that putting out generous free updates can potentially be bigger money-drivers. More of that sort of thing, please.

UK Retail:

1. FIFA 12
2. 2. The Sims 3
3. The Sims 3: Generations
4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
5. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
6. A Game Of Thrones: Genesis
7. The Sims: Medieval
8. Football Manager 2011
9. F1 2011
10. The Sims 3: Late Night

Well, yeah. Not many surprises there, with the UK’s pathological obsession with 22 gentlemen kicking a bag of air around a big lawn ensuring EA’s coffers are having their annual restock. Space Marine remains telling, as its mysterious withdrawal from direct sale on Steam in the UK means interested parties are more likely to head to retailers (note – this also reflects sales made at etailers such as Amazon) if they want to get hold of it. Alternatively, they could use a tool to trick Steam into thinking their PC is in the US and buy it that way, but that sort of thing can result in bans if you’re caught doing it.

I notice A Game Of Thrones has managed to make plenty of hay while the TV series’ sun shines, despite there being no early reviews (we only got code on the day of release, FYI, and the same seems to be true of everywhere else). Funny that, eh? I’ve had a look at it, for a review due on Eurogamer soon (Adam’s currently sniffing at it for us), and… well. Yes.

F1 2011′s done pretty well, by the look of it. I hear unconfirmed reports there are some technical problems with the PC version, though. Anyone care to corroborate or disprove that rampant specu-gossip?

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38 Comments »

  1. UnravThreads says:

    People spending £40 on Modern Warfare 3?

    y u no have common sense people??

    • thegooseking says:

      People buying Modern Warfare 3 is not nearly as scary as the fact that there are people out there who wish more games were like Call of Duty.

    • Gnoupi says:

      You want scary? The Sims 3 expansions are 30gbp or 40 euros. Each.

      I have nothing against the original game, it’s quite pleasant. But the pricing for their expansions is just outrageous, in measure of “content for buck”. (Note also that this is a matter of “where you buy”. The price really is decided according to the market, not the actual content sold. If you buy this in Poland, typically, it’s half the French price).

      But since they cater mostly to a different market, you don’t hear whining endlessly on forums or other “BOYCOTT”. And as proven, it sells for this price. By entire trucks.
      So why would they lower the prices?

      In fact, as a developer, given the choice, would you make funny yet light and overpriced expansions for a public which actually waits and runs to buy them, whichever the price? Or make a “hardcore gamer” title and be yelled at for any piece of DLC or expansion you dare to sell?

      (Especially that since TF2, Minecraft, and other Terrarias, we are now teaching a generation of gamers that paying once for a game entitles you to years of regular new content)

    • thegooseking says:

      Sims 3 expansions occupy a strange space somewhere between hardcore game DLC (which you must have for the game to be ‘complete’) and train sim DLC (of which you’re meant to buy only the ones you want). And it’s hard to tell which it’s supposed to be. That’s because they don’t market it as a game; their marketing is a lot more like toy marketing, where it’s a hell of a lot more accepted that certain things are ‘sold separately’.

      They are overpriced, though. I think it’s because a lot of people who play the Sims play only the Sims, and don’t need that money to spend on other games. Or something like that.

    • UnravThreads says:

      But, Gnoupi, I must ask this – Where on Earth are you buying your expansions? I’ve seen them frequently come up for sale in the past six months for £15 on GamersGate or Direct2Drive, plus in the Steam Summer Sale the complete Sims 3 pack went down to a tiny £55.

      As thegooseking said, they’re marketed differently. The thing with The Sims 3 is it’s arguably worth the price as there’s a lot of game there and like a lot of the better selling franchises (Mario, Modern Wankfare, etc) it’s slow to come down in price, although The Sims is probably taking the piss a bit on that front. They also spin it in a way LEGO do. If you get certain sets, you see thinly veiled adverts for other sets which ‘combine’ with the one you have to make something new (The Bionicle series did this a lot), so your collection isn’t complete until you have them all.

      I’m not defending the pricing, in fact it’s why I haven’t jumped on the Sims 3 boat yet, but it is a different kettle of fish.

    • bookwormat says:

      I don’t find this scary or surprising: For People who only buy one game each year, $50-$80 (depending on where you live) is not that expensive. After all, you only buy this one game.

      If you only play an hour or so each week, you can have fun with the Sims for many years.

      And if you are a male casual gamer between 15 and 32 or so, the latest Call of Duty is the game that television, IGN and other male casual gamers between 15 and 32 will recommend you buy.

      And it’s probably not even a bad recommendation: Call of Duty usually give you a good ride if you like the genre. And since you only play a few hours each year, it doesn’t feel repetitive either.

    • Consumatopia says:

      In fact, as a developer, given the choice, would you make funny yet light and overpriced expansions for a public which actually waits and runs to buy them, whichever the price? Or make a “hardcore gamer” title and be yelled at for any piece of DLC or expansion you dare to sell?

      That seems like good advice. So why don’t the big developers make more games like The Sims? Why so many CoD clones?

      I have a suspicion that the kinds of games that get produced have more to do with the preferences and habits of developers and publishing executives than the demands of players.

    • UnravThreads says:

      @bookwormat I’m thinking not just about the fact it’s CoD, but that you can easily get it at least £5 cheaper elsewhere (And that’s still £5-10 on top of the retail price of most games coming out these days). I mean I understand buying and forgetting about it, but I just can’t comprehend why people aren’t shopping around for the best deals on MW3.

    • Adjudicator says:

      “I’m not defending the pricing, in fact it’s why I haven’t jumped on the Sims 3 boat yet, but it is a different kettle of fish.”

      Yes- one that’s significantly more exploitative towards the consumer. It’s marketed “differently” which means yes, it’s marketed in the same way as Webkinz and other crap like that. I haven’t bought or played a CoD game since Modern Warfare (which I bought for 10 bucks this year), but I don’t see anything wrong with their once annual model with map packs anymore than I do with Madden or FIFA.

    • Gnoupi says:

      @UnravThreads – That’s the base price. You can find lower at Amazon (uk, the fr one is close to the base price), or other places, of course.

      But in this case, we talk about the brick&mortar shops, so that’s the price people are paying for it.

      The sims 3 is indeed priced for a particular market which buys most likely only this as game. As such, it’s attractive, and not that expensive. The problem is for more regular gamers who tend to jump on most games. Compared to the other games, it’s quite expensive, so it’s a bit annoying.

      It’s also in the market bubble which is not “decaying”. The same bubble containing most Mario games, or Popcap games, typically. (Although Popcap also caters to another market, on Steam, and have lower prices there). The kind of bubble in which there is no reason to lower the price of a game or make “weekend deals”, because your public doesn’t care, you don’t really have to be “competitive”. For the Sims, the only competition comes from themselves, when the new version lowers the sales from the previous, but that’s all.

  2. Sheng-ji says:

    The PC version of F1 2011 has ALL the same issues as 2010 (Poor AI, sloppy minor bugs, irrelevant pit radio, pointless interview/xp metagame) but only half as annoying. It’s still a terrible port though, especially in the menu screens and if you were expecting a geoff crammond style simulation you will be disappointed, but these things aside, the game is a blast and looks great, the races are exciting and fun. Works as well as can be expected with a keyboard, perfectly with controller and if you don’t mind opening up a config file, is probably the best game I’ve ever used with my wheel.

    • BrightCandle says:

      F1 2011 does not not support crossfire. That also affects the 4870X2, 5970 and 6990 graphics cards that all have unplayable frame rates due to the lack of support of crossfire. Codemasters support told me themselves they are not going to fix this, so buyers with these cards should avoid the game as they can not play it.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I beg to disagree, I’m using crossfire just fine :)

      I’m using 2 6970M’s and I don’t even have to disable it.

  3. Kdansky says:

    Game of Thrones review! Do it! I just finished Dance of Dragons yesterday, and I need my GoT-fix! Exclamation marks!

  4. thegooseking says:

    Seems kind of odd that Valve would ban you from Steam for tricking them into letting you give them money.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I don’t think steam want to ban you, but I believe doing this can be used to launder money, so they pretty much have to at least say they will

    • MuscleHorse says:

      I’m fairly certain it’s impossible to do this – you have to have a card registered in the said country to buy from there. It is not, however, impossible to trick Steam into thinking you’re in the country for early unlocks. I was playing Brink along with our colonial cousins at their unlock time and plan to do the same with Rage this evening.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      There are pre paid credit cards you can get which do not check the address

    • Lukasz says:

      i’ve bought plenty of times using my australian cc when I am in Poland. although it is the same card i used to buy when i was in australia.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’ve yet to have Steam block me for having a CC registered in a different country. In fact IIRC if Steam even get to see the address it’s registered for they’d be breaking the law.

    • Adjudicator says:

      “I don’t think steam want to ban you, but I believe doing this can be used to launder money, so they pretty much have to at least say they will”

      Launder money through Steam? Really reaching here, aren’t we?

  5. Zeewolf says:

    Can anyone explain the qualifying system in F1 2011 for me?

    I got a top five position in the first qualifying round at the Montreal track. Then a first position in the second, and a third position in the third qualifying round.

    So I was not really expecting to start the actual race at 13th position…

    Are there some hidden rules that the game isn’t telling me about (like me getting a penalty for qualifying on a different setup than the one I started the race with)?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Sounds like you got a ten place drop – did you impede anyone elses lap, did you hit anyone during practice or qual? Cut any corners? They do put a message on the screen informing you of the rules breach then later inform you if you received a penalty

    • Lukasz says:

      in previous game you didn’t actually race against AI. you raced against clock. therefore your position is not relevant at all. only your time is. so even if you came first everytime, if your time is not good enough in comparison to set values (not AI times) then you will get stuck lower than if it was fair game.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Sheng-ji: When you mention it, I got disqualified from a practice session due to a bug (I think) – I decided to use the automatic return to garage function, and when I got to the garage my car was semi-invisible for some reason. Then when I selected “return to track” I was just dumped out to the results table. This was the second practice session, and I could return to the third.

      I didn’t get any messages saying this would influence anything else, though.

      Lukasz: Hmm, okay… that sounds very strange. Would be disappointing if that was the case in 2011 too.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Lukasz, that’s one of the issues they did fix, one of the first things I tested out in 2011!!! It seems, to the limits I was able to test, the time set on the track is the time recorded for the AI players

      Zeewolf, It does sound like you were affected by a bug then, it seems to have recorded you a penalty which you shouldn’t have recieved :(

  6. Carra says:

    Why do people buy games like A game of Thrones when there aren’t even reviews out yet?

    • Kdansky says:

      Because people are stupid.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Because advertising and publicity work

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Nah, this game was barely advertised at all. It’s just because of the tie-in to a popular franchise. GOT sells millions of books and millions watch it on HBO–so it stands to reason millions would be predisposed to buying the game.

      I just don’t understand how a crap studio like Cyanide got the licences to such a popular franchise. Unless they somehow secured the rights before the franchise hit the big time with the HBO adaptation.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I quite liked Bloodbowl – sure there were some infuriating design flaws, especially if you wanted to run a multiplayer league, but the game was faithful to gw and great fun to play

      I actually nearly bought Pro Cycling Manager too, several times (Times that I nearly did may corrospond with the Tour de France dates)

      Also, I don’t think you can say it wasn’t publicised – it was very prominent on steams store

    • Carra says:

      I loved the books but I’ll refrain from buying the game until I know if it’s any good.

      Assuming that a game/movie is good based on a novel/movie is generally a terrible idea. Most of these franchises aren’t known for their quality, just quick money grabbers to go along with the other product.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Carra Yes, definitely! Also, the makers of the RPG have distanced themselves from it and no review code until release day – it doesn’t bode well!

  7. Zeewolf says:

    “Unless they somehow secured the rights before the franchise hit the big time with the HBO adaptation.”

    Apparently that’s exactly what they did.