Despite swinging into retail stores amidst a flurry of hype, nostalgia, and relatively kind reviews, Capcom's Bionic Commando failed to capture big numbers at retail, pushing only 27,000 units in its opening month.
Gamasutra got their hands on the NPD numbers for the title, which represent U.S. retail sales between May 19th and May 30th. To put things in perspective, Terminator Salvation, also developed by Sweden's Grin studio, sold 43,000 units in the same length of time. The contrast between sales of the two titles really says a great deal about how recognizable properties tend to blind consumers to game reviews. Bionic Commander garnered a Metacritic average of 70, while Terminator scored a measly 45 percent, yet the latter outsold the former by a good 16,000 copies.
Perhaps the low sales for Bionic Commando are simply a result of another month of declining video game sales, as the low numbers certainly aren't limited to Grin-developed titles. Another game released on May 19th, Ea's Boom Blox Bash Party for the Wii, only sold 23,000 units during the same period, though of course that title was a console exclusive and Bionic Commando appeared on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
While no information was available as to how the consoles split those 27,000 copies, sources tell us that the Xbox 360 demo, as dismal as it may have been, did manage to boost sales on Microsoft's console significantly.
Slow sales can't possibly be good for Grin of course, already the subject of rumored layoffs late last month. Despite the rumors and poor performance, I ran into a couple of Grin folks at E3 earlier this month who seemed completely upbeat, and when I asked "Aren't you guys supposed to be fired?" they simply laughed and handed me a pair of Grin-embroidered socks. I suppose that could mean something in Sweden.