The Wii-only and well-reviewed samurai Western Red Steel 2 sold about 50,000 copies in the U.S. in March, its first month of release, according to financial analyst Michael Pachter. [UPDATE: Ubisoft comments.]
That follows a halving by publisher Ubisoft of its sales projections for the game. The previous Red Steel, a first-person shooter/sword-fighting game like its sequel, has sold more than a million copies.
The difference between the two Red Steels is not just critical reaction — the first was panned — but a few years. Red Steel, the first Wii game ever revealed, via the cover of Game Informer magazine, was a 2006 Wii launch title.
The sales figures appear poor, at best mediocre, compared to the plus-300,000-copies numbers of the top 10 best-selling games in the U.S. last month, as reported by NPD, which is also the source of Pachter's numbers. The sales also continue the trend of poor numbers for Wii games that were made to appeal to fans of more violent action-oriented games. The best of those games typically sell very well on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and appeared to have a shot early in the Wii's lifespan when the likes of Resident Evil 4's Wii re-make, the first Red Steel, Call of Duty: World At War cracked the million-copy barrier. But recent games of this type, including EA's September Dead Space Extraction (9,000 copies in its first month) haven't come close to appearing in the top 10 charts.
This isn't a case of so-called hardcore Wii games not existing or selling on the Wii but of support for those titles dwindling.
UPDATE: A Ubisoft spokesperson confirmed the sales figures but correctly pointed out that they are based on only a partial month's performance, as Red Steel 2 was released on March 23, less than half a month before NPD's March reporting period ended on April 3. "Considering that the NPD sales only accounted for 12 days on the store shelves and that NPD doesn't include all retailers we are looking forward to a complete month of sales data to see where we stand."
It should be noted that Red Steel 2 creative director Jason VanenBerghe told the live audience of Kotaku Talk Radio last month that a port to the PlayStation 3 was not planned. But the complex motion control system that makes the game special and required a Wii MotionPlus to operate would seemingly function with the PS3's new Move controller.