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Crysis in Crisis, Unreal In Real Trouble

Sad tidings for fans of heavily normal-mapped pretend-man-shoots. Seems both Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3 haven't exactly stormed up the charts, which is a tragic and strange state of affairs for what were seemingly two of the most eagerly-anticipated PC games of the year.

Crysis managed just 86,633 copies in its first month on sale in the US, and UT3 a truly depressing 33,995 - which is less than the number of people who read RPS every pico-second. Yes.

The reasons? Well, there's a lot of possible reasons. Someone will doubtless shout at me about how piracy isn't hurting game sales in the slightest and even bringing it up means I'm allowing myself to be pupeteered by the entertainment industry, but I'll risk quietly waggling my eyebrows at the version of Crysis leaked to Bitorrent well before the game was on sale, and let you lot draw up your own theories on that front. Personally, I suspect it contributed a little, but I really can't believe it was anything like this significant an effect. The huge glut of other high-profile action games over the last couple of months is a far more likely smoking gun. But not the only one.

Next Generation theorises that fear of crazy hardware requirements kept people from buying Crysis. Could very well be there's something in that - certainly, a fair few RPS readers have mentioned they haven't picked it up because they're convinced their PCs can't handle it, while hearing that it takes three graphics cards and $1800 to run it at Very High settings hardly gives it a sense of being aimed at the layman. While UT3 runs smoothly and prettily on a much less beefy PC, it's tempting to speculate that it too was perceived as having unrealistic requirements - an inaccuracy that even some of the media believed.

If sinister focus groups and demographic testing decides that fear of hardware hunger was the root cause of low sales, it's unlikely we'll see another game to raise the technological bar as Crysis did for quite some time. Worst case scenario: we revert back to consoles defining PC games' graphical clout. That would be sad. But hey, at least we've still got Death Worm.

Or perhaps it's just that Crysis and UT3 are on everyone's Christmas list, and come January they'll each have sold ten times as many copies as poxy Halo 3.

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