While developer Sucker Punch Productions celebrates the massive success of Ghost of Tsushima, which recently sold more than eight million copies, not everyone is reveling in the excitement. Case in point: Former Bend Studio director Jeff Ross, who used the opportunity to take a stab at Sony for how it handled the reception of the open-world zombie game, Days Gone.
Ross took to Twitter to air out some grievances, particularly regarding the sales of Days Gone and Ghost of Tsushima. See, with Days Gone having been out for approaching three years now, the game has sold more than nine million copies to date, especially with its PC release on May 18, 2021. Unfortunately, Ross said “local studio management” made Bend Studio “feel like [Days Gone] was a big disappointment,” despite the game selling well. Even before Ross left Bend Studio at the end of 2020, Days Gone wound up selling the same 8 million Ghost of Tsushima recently has.
We’ve reached out to Sony for comment and will update if we hear back.
Many in Ross’ mentions think the determining factor for Sony positioning Days Gone as a “big disappointment” was its score on Metacritic, a review aggregate site that collects critic and user scores from across the internet. Looking at Days Gone and Ghost of Tsushima, it’s clear the latter reviewed much better, with Ghost of Tsushima receiving a score of 83 and Days Gone a 71.
According to BenjiSales, a YouTuber who focuses on gaming industry sales, Days Gone was the best-selling PlayStation 4 exclusive on PSN in 2019. It also made the top 10 best-selling digital games of that year, despite Sony allegedly refusing to “do PR” on the game’s sales success. And even though it was a commercial success, Bloomberg reported in April 2021 that Bend Studio couldn’t get Sony to pick up a Days Gone sequel pitch.
I’ve got some ideas for why that is, having played both Days Gone and Ghost of Tsushima, but my best guess is that Days Gone just wasn’t fun. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience to sit down and play. The controls were clunky and cumbersome. Hunting resources was a chore. I enjoyed riding the motorcycle in the beautifully apocalyptic Oregon, but the novelty wore off after incessantly running out of gas. And on top of all that, Days Gone dropped in an oversaturated genre, whether that’s open-world games, zombie survival games, or both. Wrong place, wrong time.
When asked if there would ever be a Days Gone sequel, Jeff Ross reiterated one “won’t happen anytime soon” but that fans should never say never. Ross told another Twitter user that the reason the sequel pitch got canned “wasn’t ever explained well.” All will likely get covered later today when Ross appears on David Jaffe’s podcast at 7 p.m. ET.
Update, 1/7/21, 3:05 p.m. ET:
Some are calling into question the veracity of former Sony Bend Studio director Jeff Ross’ claims that Days Gone had sold 8 million copies following his appearance on David Jaffe’s podcast yesterday discussing the game’s sales.
According to PushSquare, Ross’ indications that the open-world zombie game had sold roughly 9-10 million copies isn’t entirely accurate. Speaking to Jaffe, Ross revealed that he based those figures on the now-defunct site Gamestat, which tracked PlayStation trophy data to estimate the number of players a game has.
“Where I got my data from, I had access to a lot of telemetry, and I could see stuff and when we were at 5 million copies—when we were announced at 5 million copies—the telemetry data was at 5.8 [million],” Ross told Jaffe. “There are basically resells or shared discs. I was actually using an external website—I think they’re offline now—but they were using trophy data and it lined up with our internal telemetry data so for me, it’s like, ‘good enough.’”
Interestingly enough, as both Game Informer and PushSquare pointed out, used copies of Days Gone, the PS Plus version of the title, and other rentals all contributed to the sales figure of “over 8 million” Ross tweeted about earlier this week. In other words, new players earning PlayStation trophies do not necessarily represent new game sales.
Ross also explained what he meant by “local studio management” when saying people found Days Gone to be a “disappointment.” It turns out that it wasn’t PlayStation or Sony, but instead upper management within Bend Studio. It’s entirely possible Days Gone’s sales are lower than the 9-10 million Ross mentioned, but either way, Sony still skipped a Days Gone 2. Ross also told Jaffe that Sony passed on an open-world Resistance reboot.
Despite all of this scrutiny, Ross still “stands by” the initial figures.