By Flor Orsetti
Re-releases of first-party PlayStation titles on PC had been climbing the rankings until “Uncharted” and “Sackboy” arrived. What happened?
PC gamers, particularly PC users, will know that Sony (NYSE: SONY)’s PlayStation has been spoiling them with several re-releases of previously exclusive, high-profile titles, for quite some time.
Games like “Horizon Zero Dawn,” “God of War,” and the most recent “Marvel’s Spider-Man” turned out to be a success, staying among the best sellers on the Steam platform for a considerable time. In fact, “God of War,” held the first place for several consecutive weeks, beating new releases like “Elden Ring” and “Monster Hunter Rise.”
The most striking thing about the relaunch of these exclusive games is that they managed to rise again in the general sales rankings, many of them even entering the top 10 charts, as when they were released on their respective consoles.
This is summed up by journalist Stephen Totilo of US financial outlet Axios on Twitter, showing how “Days Gone” and “God of War” climbed the US rankings after PC gamers got their hands on them.
“God of War” went from position 146 to #5, and “Days Gone from” 247 to 20 after their re-releases. It makes perfect sense: Sony is getting its games to be double-best-sellers. First, they launch with a temporary exclusivity of a few years on its consoles, and then they jump to PC, re-releasing the game.
However, this successful trend did not continue with the most recent releases.
“Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Edition” peaked at 10,851 players in its launch week in mid-October. And while it’s not bad, it’s barely a quarter of what its best-selling counterparts achieved.
While this lackluster performance was still being talked about, matters got even more complicated with “Sackboy: A Big Adventure,” which quickly became the poorest release to date, with a disappointing peak of 610 concurrent players on Steam in its first week.
Unlike on consoles and other PC stores, Valve makes Steam concurrent player data public, as well as estimated sales and other metrics for each game, which are super interesting to measure the success of a title in question.
The page that collects them is SteamDB, where each game has its own file, as can be seen here just like “Sackboy,” and from which the following numbers can be obtained:
“God of War” – 73,529 (January 2022)
“Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered” – 66,436 (Aug 2022)
“Horizon Zero Dawn” – 56,557 (August 2020)
“Days Gone” – 27,450 (May 2021)
“Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection” – 10,851 (October 2022)
“Sackboy: A Big Adventure” – 610 (Oct 2022)
Barring an outlier, like “Cyberpunk 2077,” which, in 2021, obtained a second boost following the announcement of the Netflix (NFLX: NASDAQ) series, these concurrent player records are rarely broken after launch week. Therefore, the situation of the last two games is worrying, particularly that of “Sackboy.”
What happened, then, to the king of thieves and our “favorite ragdoll,” who couldn’t even catch up with “Spider-Man” and “Kratos”?
Both were announced just over a month in advance, as opposed to “God of War” and “Spider-Man,” for example, which had been confirmed as releases months earlier. Actually, “Kratos” even had its own space in the State of Play, is a video program that shows the latest news, announcements, and trailers from the world of PlayStation. However, not even this boost could drive the expected numbers.
“Sackboy,” meanwhile, didn’t even get a post on the official PlayStation Blog.
It is clear that the Sony console did not release these two games for PC with the usual fanfare. In fact, the company decided to release them without much marketing in the most release-heavy season of the year.
It is understandable that Sony is not dedicating much resources to these releases, with the company currently focused on “God of War: Ragnarok.” However, it is still striking that they drop on Steam just when all gamers are saving their budget for full-price games like the aforementioned “Ragnarok,” “Call of Duty,” “Bayonetta 3,” among others.
Then there is the particular situation of each one. “Sackboy” is a colorful platformer, super adorable; one to play with family or friends. As such, it strikes a chord with PlayStation and Nintendo (OTC: NTDOY) audiences. The genre, nonetheless, is not particularly popular on PC.
On the other hand, “Uncharted” is a collection that includes a fourth installment and an expansion pack. It is to be expected that there will be people who do not want to buy this edition knowing that they do not have the initial trilogy to enjoy.
Much more could be theorized about it, but the facts are clear: PlayStation has two blemishes on its impeccable PC portable game history.
The next release, “Spider-Man Miles Morales,” is slated for November 18. Much more is expected of this title after the success of the first of the saga, released in August. Furthermore, the game is being launched in partnership with Disney (NYSE: DIS)’s Marvel, which is a best-seller everywhere.
The arrival of “Returnal” on Steam was also leaked, a roguelike that had modest sales success as it came out while the PS5 was still facing the worst of its stocking problems. The focus on difficulty and the soulslike style make it a more consumer-friendly PC game, but nothing will be said and done until it’s officially released.
According to its latest financial report, Sony expects to earn $300 million from its PC releases during the new fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. That’s a significant increase from the $80 million and $35 million they expected for the two previous years.
In a few months, we’ll find out if expectations have been met. If they aren’t, Sony may still have an ace up its sleeve. Will it be “Bloodborne”?
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By Flor Orsetti