Better reviews don't seem to be helping 50 Cent's newest video game.
Despite earning higher review scores than 2005's 50 Cent Bulletproof, February's Blood on the Sand has sold an estimated 56,000 copies in the U.S. between its February launch and early April.
Its predecessor did far better.
In its first two months of release in the fall of 2005, Bulletproof sold 681,000 copies, en route to life-to-date sales of 1,123,000 units, according to NPD.
The original game had a Metacritic score of 47; the new game has a 71 and has been described as a guilty pleasure on some of the top gaming podcasts and review sites.
It was obvious that something was wrong with Blood on the Sand's sales when THQ failed to hype the game's performance in its earnings report earlier this week.
50 Cent may not be as popular as he was in the middle of the decade, but he's by no means faded to obscurity. A drop-off this steep outpaces even the decline in the rapper's recent album sales. His 2005 album The Massacre sold 1.14 million copies in its first week, according to SoundScan, the group that tracks music sales in the U.S.. His 2007 follow-up, Curtis, sold 691,000 units in its first week, a big decline, but not a calamity.
There were stark differences between the two games. Bulletproof came out in the fall season and put 50 in an urban setting that was supposed to be inspired by what he raps about. Blood on the Sand was out in the winter and was more exotic, transporting 50 to a pseudo-Iraq where he needed to reclaim a stolen jeweled skull. Both games were released against tough competition.
How does a game considered by critics to be better than its predecessor and starring a celebrity fail to pull in bigger numbers?
One must at least look back to publisher Activision's decision to unload Blood on the Sand following its merger with Vivendi, the original publisher for the game. If Activision recognized some fatal flaw in Blood on the Sand, back then, fans of the other former Vivendi games let go by Activision – Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend , Wet— better hope Activision wasn't right about them as well.
THQ did not respond to Kotaku's request for comment about the performance of Blood on the Sand by press time.