This Week In The Business: Is Selling 50,000 Copies Enough?

Illustration for article titled This Week In The Business: Is Selling 50,000 Copies Enough?
Image: Minit

QUOTE | “Our hope is to find a balance between games that sell a shitload of copies and are good, and games that may only sell 50,000 copies, but are also good. We think it’s important to do those type of games. We do all the spectrum. We’re not saying no to games because we don’t think they can sell 500,000 copies. That’s a stupid way of looking at it.” - Devolver co-founder Nigel Lowrie explains why the indie publisher picks up titles like Gris and Minit despite their limited commercial upside.


STAT | Almost 50,000 - Copies of The Messenger sold in a little over a week after launch, a number Sabotage co-founder Martin Brouard found surprisingly low after the game’s glowing critical reception.

QUOTE | “With the rise of multiplayer games, I don’t think single-player is in danger. A game doesn’t have to be profitable, it just has to break even.” - Longtime Castlevania producer and current Bloodstained producer Koji Igarashi believes the audience for single-player games and the audience for multiplayer games are two different groups.

QUOTE | “In general, [the industry] has a really big focus on high intensity, competitive games. That’s a major trend people are rapidly following. With our first product, we’re taking something that might have some competitive elements, but there’s a real opportunity in the game space that’s being underdelivered in low competitive experiences right now.” - Ex-Riot Games developer Anthony Leung says his new studio Singularity 6 is going in a different direction, one that has drawn a $2.5 million investment from London Venture Partners.

QUOTE | “We kind of try to be everywhere, but also respecting the fact that we don’t want to be known as a money magnet, where we jump on something that will sell because it’s [popular]. We try to be more respectful and bring something with the video game.” - Dan Efergan, interactive group director at Wallace & Gromit studio Aardman Animations, explains why the company’s first major gaming project is a narrative game set during World War I and produced in collaboration with the content director of Valiant Hearts.

QUOTE | “There’s no competitive advantage to be gained in distribution when you’re in the content business. It does not exist. It is not a meaningful long-term competitive advantage to control distribution of any sort. Therefore, arguing about whether subscription exists or how you take advantage of it... it’s kind of irrelevant. Because it’s going to be, or won’t be, a rising tide that will affect all of us. “ - Take-Two chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick explains why he thinks streaming and subscription services are not going to be game changers for publishers.

QUOTE | “I would observe that the days when we were borrowing money from China to buy oil in the Middle East, those days are basically gone. And the political landscape has to reflect that.” - Zelnick again, this time criticizing the US government for its stance toward China, where American publishers need to partner with Chinese companies and deal with government approvals to get access to that market, but Chinese publishers have no such restrictions in accessing the American market.


STAT | 1 - Ranking of the PlayStation 4-exclusive Spider-Man, on the UK’s list of best-selling 2018 games during their release week, and on the list of fastest-selling Marvel-branded games in history. Among super hero games, only Batman: Arkham Knight has had a better debut this generation.

STAT | 19.6% - Percentage of UK children surveyed who reported that their parents not only set limits to their screen time, but actually enforce them.


STAT | 52% - Portion of US gamers who play on a desktop or laptop PC, according to a recent EEDAR survey. That’s second only to mobile devices (90%), a little ahead of consoles (43%), and well beyond non-Switch handhelds (9%).

QUOTE | “I’m trying to give people a shortcut, so they don’t necessarily need to learn a foreign language to understand what game design means.” - King Berlin’s Fawzi Mesmar explains why he wrote “Al-Khallab on the Art of Game Design,” which he believes is the first Arabic language book on game design.



Devolver reminds me of a good record label - selective in its approach based on quality, originality, etc rather than purely driven by potential sales numbers. It’s a good model that the gaming industry could adapt - much more flexible and realistic than, say, the film industry. Music is dominated by the major conglomerate labels sure, but as anyone with working ears in 2018 can attest, there’s a LOT more out there too, and all of it is accessible in our modern infrastructure. Labels like Ninja Tune or Warp or Northern Electronics hold rosters of incredible talent, all selling pretty much as expected, and keeping themselves profitable and sustainable. The individual artists on these labels vary widely as far as sales, but the curator aspect - the way listeners can trust these labels to deliver quality music - is paramount.