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Christmas Sales Casualties


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7-Dec-2008 Article: Big names that got lost in the Xmas rush

So many big games, not enough money to buy them. Story of your life. Not ours, we get promos. But we're not total ******** and are here to help you pick out some gems that were failed by their marketing budgets.

Many have felt the pinch and there have been some painful decisions made (Woolies going under is just the tip of the iceberg). But some of 2008's most hyped titles have failed to capture the contents of your wallets.

The release schedule's been massively competitive though, with titles such as Gears of War 2, Fable II and Fallout 3 storming the UK software chart alongside annual FIFA and PES releases. Oh and then there was Call of Duty: World at War.

From new IPs like Mirror's Edge, LittleBigPlanet and Wii Music to established franchises like Banjo-Kazooie, MotorStorm and Resistance, the charts look like you played it safe this year.

Without further ado, here are the games that have, so far at least, failed to live up to sales expectations, and which we think should have performed a lot, lot better.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Rare's latest offering hasn't quite received the stellar reviews we thought it might, but we still think it's nearly the nuts. However, the game's failed to make the top 40 in the UK chart during the three weeks since its release. More humiliatingly, it was only No15 on the Xbox 360 chart in its first week and is now down at No17. We hate to say it, but was Peter Moore right in stating that new consumers don't care for Rare and that the dev's skillsets are "not applicable in today's market"?

BioShock PS3

Having topped the chart for a couple of weeks last August to become the then second fastest selling Xbox 360 title ever, 2K's epic finally made it to PS3 this October, but it didn't pack the same wrench-style wallop sales-wise, only making a re-entry at No.14, behind the likes of Carnival: Funfair Games, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics and Family Trainer. It's still hovering in the top 30 of the PS3 chart, perhaps aided by the recent release of the PS3 exclusive Challenge Rooms, but a game of such quality deserves to be played by as wide an audience as possible.

Left 4 Dead

Mixing some of the best elements from Team-Fortress 2, Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike, Valve's created an almost endlessly replayable game in which no two run-throughs are the same. But while Left 4 Dead may be threatening to dethrone Mario Kart in our lunchtime gaming sessions, it only debuted at No15 in the chart as CoD: World at War, football games and evergreen Nintendo titles continued to hog the top ten. Even worse, the PC and 360 zombie shooter fell to No34 in its second week on the chart. Is everyone buying it on Steam? We hope it's getting the sales cash it deserves.

Lips

Microsoft might be selling shedloads of 360s in Europe, but its plan to ape the success of Sony's 15 million unit selling SingStar franchise has got off to a flat start. Part of the company's drive to attract the expanded audience, its copycat karaoke title Lips missed the chart top 40 completely in its debut week and only made No19 in the Xbox 360 chart. We thought it was an impressively engineered, visually pleasing party experience (with much cooler mics than SingStar), and its since risen to No11 on the 360 chart, but it's fair to say that Lips has yet to hit the high notes.

LittleBigPlanet

Hype built around LBP from the moment it was unveiled at GDC 2007, when Phil Harrison called it the "fun and creative embodiment of the Game 3.0 concept". A fantastic standalone platformer that also offers incredible creative freedom, it garnered rave reviews, but a delayed release set in motion a trail of disaster that most recently saw the game enter the chart at No4, before slipping to No19, then No24, and most recently No32. A clear game of the year contender and the best PS3 game yet, we reckon, but not performing like the system seller Sony was hoping for.

Mirror's Edge

This year's Assassin's Creed in terms of massive pre-release hype followed by mixed reviews, the major difference being that Ubisoft's game has sold over six million copies. Mirror's Edge dev DICE projected three million sales of its game, but its chart performance indicates that could be wishful thinking. It entered at No20, before slipping to No28 and then No39 on the chart. EA's already been talking about a follow-up, but unless sales pick up it's possible Faith won't get the chance to run the mirror's edge again, which would be a shame seeing as we thoroughly enjoyed the game.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

We thought the coming together of MK and DC made for a decent beat 'em-up, but when the two worlds collided it made less of an impact at retail than Midway thought it would. It looks like Mortal Kombat brand manager Mark Cook spoke a bit too soon when he said the game would ride on the wave of a "resurgence in the genre", as MK vs. DC missed the top 40 entirely in its debut week, and currently sits at No15 and No19 on the PS3 and 360 charts.

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift

The follow-up to the three million plus selling PS3 launch title MotorStorm pretty much crashed and burned at retail. Familiar, frantic and exciting but lacking killer new ideas, it made more of a Mini chart showing than a monster truck-sized one, debuting at a lowly No29 in mid-November. It has since been shunted out of the top 40 and currently sits at No8 on the PS3 chart.

Resistance 2

We thought it was better than the original but not quite up to the standard set by today's best shooters, and that sentiment has been mirrored in the game's early sales. The PS3 exclusive has just made its chart debut at No10, with launch week sales totalling only two-thirds of those managed by the first Resistance game. Apparently a number of Zavvi and WHSmith branches have yet to receive copies of the title due to distribution problems, but still, seeing as the game's widely been touted as one of PS3's biggest hitters, it has to go down as a disappointing debut.

Tom Clancy's EndWar

Ubisoft said previously that Third World War strategy title EndWar would change the way people make console games, but when it finally deployed the troops in early November they went missing in action. Despite some solid reviews the game debuted at No30 in the chart, and its time in top 40 was short lived. It currently ranks at No21 and No26 on the PS3 and 360 charts. With games like Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon more accustomed to topping the chart, it's a poor showing for the first entirely new Clancy game brand since 2002.

Wii Music

Music's an acquired taste and it would be fair to say that Wii Music has divided opinion from the beginning, although we sat on the higher end of the review fence come its release. With the likes of Mario Kart, Wii Play and Wii Fit still regularly placing at the top end of the chart on a regular basis so many months after launching, we find it more than a little surprising that Wii Music has yet to break into the top ten, and for that reason alone it has to go down as a sales disappointment. Perhaps not every first party Wii game is destined to dominate sales then. Having said that, Wii Music initially charted at No16 and has since creeped up to No11, so you never know.

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