[Gamasutra contributor Ryan Langley examines April 2011's Xbox Live Arcade debuts and continuing successes, with charts and Leaderboard data showing the performance of XBLA titles from Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes to Dishwasher: Vampire Smile.]
April was a strong month for Xbox Live Arcade with some of the best reviewed games we’ve seen on the service. Ubisoft showed their hand with the release of both Outland
and Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes
, while EA and THQ released their own unique titles.
We also saw the release of Section 8: Prejudice
, an attempt by a studio to bring a full retail release to the downloadable market.
We take a look at the Leaderboard statistics from all the new titles from April 2011, keep tabs on some downloadable content that made itself available on the marketplace, and see how deals affect the marketplace in terms of sales, when over 20 titles got discounts during the month.
The first two releases of the month were Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
from Ska Studios, and THQ’s Red Factions: Battlegrounds
, a complementary game to the upcoming Red Faction: Armageddon
had no Leaderboards we could follow - however, we contacted James Silva of Ska Studios to help us out. He’s let us know that the game has sold over 60,000 copies over the first month of sales on XBLA, which has brought the Dishwasher
franchise, including the first game, to 250,000 sales total.
Red Faction: Battlegrounds
was a disappointment, with only 2,133 new players on the first level’s Leaderboard. The game also has a Metacritic rating of 52, with reviews citing bland design, a short campaign, and lack of players in online matches.
In a promotional event for Red Faction: Armageddon
, THQ creative director Lenny Brown told Joystiq
the game’s reception was "a little bit of a disappointment," which may have been a reason for the cancellation
of the Saint’s Row
Revenge Of Heroes
An HD rendition of the critically acclaimed Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
, developed by Capy Games, was the next XBLA title to be released in the month. Unfortunately, the game's Leaderboard statistics only track multiplayer competition, making them less-than-useful for sales tracking purposes.
Based on the Live activity list for its opening week, though, the game was unable to beat Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
despite high praise in reviews. From what we’ve heard, Ubisoft are "fairly happy" with the game's XBLA sales.
The second release for the week was Yars' Revenge
, a reimagining of the classic Atari 2600 title from Atari and Killspace Entertainment. The game has received low review scores, with reviewers citing a short and boring campaign. The Leaderboards reflect this with a very low number of players who have finished the first chapter of the game.
The week of the 18th provided two more titles – Section 8: Prejudice
and Fancy Pants Adventures
is a sequel to the original Section 8
, a retail only title, released with the stated intent of providing all the content of a full, retail release in a $15 digital download. Unfortunately the Leaderboards are multiplayer only, so we cannot follow the game's sales.
Fancy Pants Adventures
however, did have Leaderboards we could follow, and seems to have done reasonably well. It added over 13,000 players on the first week for a total of 24,827 for the month. EA did a fairly good push for the game online, thanks to the popular original Flash title being promoted on many web portals, and even Google’s Chrome Store.
The final week of the month gave us Outland
, a second Ubisoft-published title developed by Housemarque, who’ve proven themselves a successful developer with Super Stardust HD, Golf: Tee It Up
and Dead Nation
The game's exceptional platforming and Metroid
-style gameplay elements has earned it high review scores. Unfortunately we could not follow sales through the Leaderboards, which only track a few additional levels unlocked later in the game.
The next two releases were pretty low key in comparison, as neither of them could gain enough reviews for a Metacritic rating. Cave's Nin-2 Jump
added 3,909 in its first week, with all the proceeds going to Japanese tsunami relief, while SNK's Trouble Witches Neo
added 4,406 players. Still, sales haven’t been very good for either.
Deals, Deals And More Deals
There were an incredible amount of XBLA sales across April, with Microsoft attempting a new “tiered” system. In addition to the standard Deals Of The Week, which require a Gold subscription to get, there were additional sales via the dashboard, like Sega and Capcom sales which did not require a Gold subscription.
Many of the discounted titles on sale from big players – Toy Soldiers
and Perfect Dark
to name a couple - did very well. One of the interesting sale games was Droplitz
, which on the same week was permanently made $5, down from $10. Unfortunately it does not look like this price drop made an impact on the game’s sales.
Get Your Ass To Mars
The one new piece of downloadable content we could follow was a new table for Pinball FX 2
. The Mars table added 12,081 players in its first week, and 17,626 players for the entire month. This is in line with the original sales of the first DLC
, which shows that this game still has staying power even 5 months later.
We also followed a few other popular titles from previous weeks. A World Of Keflings, Torchlight
and Full House Poker
continue to make big bucks this month. Strania
and Island Of Wakfu
have unfortunately not done well in their second month of sales.
Super Meat Boy
had a lot of promotion outside of the Xbox Live Arcade with the release of a postmortem
and the inclusion in Steam’s Potato Sack promotion; however these do not seem to have affected the XBLA version's sales.
For May we’ve got the release of Bangai-O: Missile Fury
, Gatling Gears
and SEGA Rally Online
. Previously, May has been a month packed with XBLA releases, and usually not games that sell particularly well. Hopefully we’ll see a different story in 2011.