When EA's Boom Blox didn't appear in the top ten best selling games for the month of May, we were puzzled. When it didn't appear in the top twenty, we became concerned, especially with junk like Game Party and Haze representing. According to NPD data provided to GameDaily, the Steven Spielberg-backed game only sold 60,000 copies last month, limping into the #25 spot on the U.S. sales charts.
So why was Boom Blox an initial dud?
Our first thought was meager and poorly aimed marketing attempts. We don't personally recall seeing much in the way of advertising, but anecdotal evidence from net denizens who watch cartoons and networks aimed at kids swear they were fed a steady diet of Boom Blox TV spots. Why advertise just on kid-friendly programming, when Spielberg himself has said that the game was intended to be something that kids and their parents would play?
NPD analyst Anita Frazier apparently had similar thoughts, telling GameDaily that despite positive review, new intellectual property like Boom Blox has a hard time breaking through the "noise in the market" and that perhaps marketing was to blame.
Frazier points to a noisy release schedule that included Mario Kart Wii, Grand Theft Auto IV, Wii Fit and Metal Gear Solid 4. One might think that Boom Blox may have drowned in a sea of Wii shovelware, but the amount of crap heaped onto retail shelves was relatively light in May.
Perhaps it was just that the Spielberg name just doesn't carry much weight with gamers, as the initial announcement that the famed director was involved in a block smashing game that looked a hell of a lot like a Jenga rip-off seemed like an odd, perhaps disappointing match. A $50 price tag for a game that doesn't come packed with an accessory like Wii Play and Mario Kart Wii likely didn't help matters, especially when better sellers like Game Party and Carnival Games undercut what looks like a similar offering.
While we're hoping that Boom Blox's initial misstep at retail will lead to smarter marketing and better prices for Wii games, we suspect we'll unfortunately see third-party publishers just point to Nintendo's high quality offerings for something to blame. The argument that only Nintendo published titles has some merit, but we think third-party publishers have to shoulder their own part of the blame.
Wii Third-Party Struggles Highlighted by May NPD [GameDaily]