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Nintendo financial results for the past 9 months have just been out and some interesting data are in. For me the most important number is the million mark reached by Dragon Quest IX in North America and Europe combined (1,02 million copies to be precise).
Few people betted such a great success for this game outside Japan (where it’s around 4,3 million units sold as Square Enix reported recently), because of the change of platform typology, the strange (to not say casual-oriented) userbase of the Nintendo DS, the assumed decline of the entire genre (even though I think the opposite for this deal), the piracy and so on.

Hence the game has gone to sell over 5,3 million copies worldwide, becoming the second best entry in Dragon Quest series in terms of sales in the West. The VIII chapter sold a lot more in foreign countries: 6,88 million units worldwide are reported on the Level-5 site; an odd number as a matter of fact, taking as granted the 433.000 units from the North American release and the approximately 3,6 million units sold in Japan (Famitsu data). Probably, they are referring to distributed copies, and they’ve added all the further versions came out in Japan like the one in the Ultimate Hits series.

For more information on Dragon Quest IX sales, check the article “Thanks Nintendo: Dragon Quest VI is coming!” on this blog!


A short break from video games sales: let’s talk about music album sales!
As many of you surely know, Daft Punk have recorded Tron Legacy soundtrack; their work is absolutely astonishing, easily the best thing about the movie: it is phenomenal both within the movie and as stand-alone album. Actually, Tron Legacy isn’t performing so well in the international box-office, but what about the soundtrack? MediaTraffic collects data about music sales on a weekly basis so we can compute how many copies the album has sold until the last week (the release date was December, 6th 2010):

1st week: 109.000
2nd week: 101.000
3rd week: 118.000
4th week: 87.000
5th week: 57.000
6th week: 42.000
7th week: 36.000
8th week: 30.000
9th week: 32.000
10th week: 29.000
11th week: 25.000
Total: 666.000

These numbers put the duo’s work quite above the standard for soundtracks, also considering the caliber of the Tron Legacy project, which has spanned over different levels of the entertainment industry thanks of Disney Pictures means. Moreover, this album is selling pretty steadily while usually soundtracks expire from the charts once the movie has been out for a month or so.

About the album itself, Daft Punk have created a great mixture of orchestral and electronic tracks: “End Titles” sounds like a fighting game theme (more like Tekken than Street Fighter anyway) while “Derezzed” seems a justification to their fans to have done a soundtrack and not a proper album after 5 years of break (i.e. 1.44 minutes of pure dance sound according to best Discovery compositions); “Adagio for TRON” is perfectly tailored on the movie, so epic and regal, while dance beats and fuzzy vibe gives us “Arena” and “The Game Has Changed“. One of the best tracks in my opinion is “Solar Sailer“, always synth-driven but more relaxing.

I’m very happy this masterful score is receiving a good confirmation in the market, in particular after the skepticism around the announcement of this strange collaboration;  then, Human After All, the last album of the French duo, had been pretty demolished by the critics (and fans as well) at the time of release and it didn’t sell well as the previous works did. So the Tron Legacy soundtrack has been an occasion to redeem themselves, now we’ll see whether a new proper album follows immediately or not.

PS: I will keep updated this post until this album won’t disappear from the chart so let’s take a look here sometimes!

The Japanese one, of course. It’s always exciting when a new console enters the market, especially for a sales-addicted like me.
During his dedicated conference one week ago, Nintendo spread a lot of info for 3DS related to Japan: this portable platform will be out on February 26th, 2011 there and it will be accompanied with 8 games during the launch days and more to follow in next weeks (also big as Zelda and Resident Evil).

Today Amazon has opened preorders for 3DS launch software, so let’s see how it debuted in the chart! Moreover, I will link to you some nice pages where you can see trend and positions in the Amazon chart.

1. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (¥5,980)

2. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (¥4,800)

3. Ridge Racer 3D (¥6,090)

4. Nintendogs + Cats: Shiba and new friends (¥4,800)

5. Samurai Warriors Chronicle (¥6,090)
graph – preorder

6. Nintendogs + Cats: Toy poddle and new friends (¥4,800)

7. Winning Eleven 3DSoccer (¥5,800)

8. Nintendogs + Cats: French bull and new friends (¥4,800)
graph – preorder

These are the data available until now; Combat of Giants Dinosaur 3D (¥5,040) and Puzzle Bobble 3D (¥4,980) are missing in action. Plus Steel Diver, (out on March, 17th) and Gundam the 3D Battle (out on March, 24th) are available.

As expected, strongest titles have started strongly: Professor Layton is at the top of the 3DS chart (and also of the global chart), followed by Super Street Fighter, the usual Ridge Racer which has become a constant launch release and Nintendogs versions, which summed surely have the 4th position by themselves.
I’m looking forward to seeing how these games will perform once out; meanwhile, we can check Amazon preorders chart to have an idea.

I’ve always thought Norse mythology was a great theme to use in video games, but it seems developers have never shared my opinion. Just few games were based on the Scandinavian folklore and among others there is one of the most eccentric jRPG of the PS1-era: Valkyrie Profile.
Tri-Ace, under Enix direction, developed this game in the late 90s for the Playstation; a later version, which made the game arrive also in Europe where it didn’t originally come out, was released for the PSP about 4 years ago.

The unique style of Valkyrie Profile makes it really intriguing: the exploration phase reminds both a 2D platform (within cities and dungeons) and a classical jRPG (in the worldmap); against enemies, every character in the party has a button associated in a semi-realtime fast and engaging battle system. Moreover, the story of the game doesn’t follow the usual pattern of the vast majority of jRPGs, being made by missions and a non-linear structure which causes players to finish the game more than just one time.

Valkyrie Profile was a great success at the time, both critically and commercially. Let’s see how it sold in the two versions.

Japan: the original version came out when jRPGs sold like hot pancakes; in fact, even though it was a new IP, it was able to move more than 400.000 units in the first weeks ending with 636.000 units (Famitsu and Tri-Ace data). At the time, it was one of the biggest success on the Playstation for a new IP concerning the genre; only Xenogears and Parasite Eve, published by the then Enix rival, Squaresoft.
PSP version achieved moderate success considering how early came out on the platform. According to Famitsu, Lenneth (as the game was subtitled) sold 168.515 copies.

North America: in the Western countries, Valkyrie Profile sold much less; while the original one had had 73.000 copies sold (Tri-Ace data), the new version moved 60.000 copies (Square-Enix FY2007 Briefing Session), which is actually not so bad comparing to the first result. But in North America Valkyrie Profile was a niche game and treated how it is by the publisher (no advertisement, weak marketing strategy).

We don’t have data for the sales in Europe; anyway, I do think European data are quite small, maybe in par with the American.
Worldwide, Valkyrie Profile has roughly sold 700.000 copies, while Valkyrie Profile Lenneth has sold 230.000 copies approximately. The second result should be adjusted with the sales in PAL countries so Lenneth might have reached 270-280.000 copies worldwide.
Tri-Ace game got a sequel for PS2 and a spin-off for the DS, which both tried to strenghten the popularity of the brand among jRPG player all around the world.  Soon I will explore how these games went so stay tuned!

Almost 2 years ago Atlus released a new title within Megami Ibunroku series (a Megami Tensei spin-off started on with the first Persona) for DS, Devil Survivor, in Japan; some months later the game arrived in North America under the Shin Megami Tensei name. The game was well received by both critics (currently it has 84% on Metacritic) and video gamers. And it’s a novelty its enhanced version for 3DS, Devil Survivor Over Clock, just announced by Atlus on the latest Famitsu; maybe it will be one of the launch titles because its completion is presently at 90% and the additions are supposed to be not so hard to implement: full voice acting, an extra chapter, more demons and partially renewed graphics.
Back to the original game for DS, let’s check it out how the game performed and try to understand whether the porting will be fairly big somewhere or not.

Japan: Devil Survivor debuted with 56.689 units sold on January 15th, 2009, ending with a LTD of 106.997 units (Famitsu data), which wasn’t bad at all considering that all major Atlus games were on Sony platforms (in particular PS2 and PSP at the time… Well, still now). The good result was confirmed by Atlus financial report: the game company had expected 100.000 units and the game easily sold more.

North America: June 2009 NPD leaked data tell us that the game debuted with 24.997 copies in the first month (the game was out on June 23rd, so actually this number refers to just a week) and the same financial report states that Devil Survivor ended to sell at least 40.000 units, over and above the 25.000 units expected.

In conclusion, the game sold quite well in every region where it was released; we can expect Devil Survivor has actually exceeded a bit this numbers, ending with 200.000 copies worldwide.
So does Devil Survivor Over Clock make sense commercially speaking? This game doesn’t show much effort from Atlus on the new Nintendo platform, but just a quick dealing to be a part of the big thing. But a lot of video gamers haven’t played the original one and they might be interested in this new version, also because the field will be free and no games of the same genre are planned so early for 3DS. I do think Over Clock will overcome the first one results: the answer is a matter of months.

Level-5 has grown a lot in the course of the last 3 years; it had created a series which was able to sell million of units all around the world (Professor Layton); another series has recently reach the million mark exclusively in Japan (Inazuma Eleven); its collaboration with Sony has carried on with the development of a new IP, White Knight Chronicles, out on PS3 and soon on PSP; moreover, it was behind the best selling Dragon Quest ever, the ninth chapter and it’s preparing a lot of title for 2011 among which a ton of games for 3DS (Time Travelers, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright).

Some weeks ago, one of its most promising game has been out in Japan: Ni no Kuni (i.e. 二ノ国 which means “Second Land” and it can be expressed as “Another World”) is a jRPG for DS with the artistic direction assigned to Studio Ghibli that will be followed by another version in 2011 for PS3.
Cutting to the chase, Level-5 has shipped 600.000 copies of the game but it seems it’s not performing so well: in fact its price has decreased almost everywhere which is not a good sign at all. The game will almost surely arrive at least in North America: Akihiro Hino hinted something during the GDC  in 2009, where the game had been shown.

Here are Ni no Kuni sales in the first weeks (Media Create data: 1, 2, 3):
1st week:   170.548 (December 6-12)
2nd week: 74.329 (December 13-19)
3rd week:  84.115 (December 20-26)
4th week:  53.295 (December 27 – January 2)
Total sales are 382.287, which is roughly the 63,7% of the initial shipment.
Ni no Kuni debut is very good considering the fact that it’s a new IP; it’s one of the best start for a new-brand jRPG, only behind the first White Knight Chronicles debut (203.033 copies, Famitsu data). It also showed unusual legs for the genre, surely thanks of Christmas holidays.
I do hope the game will continue to sell well, but I wonder if it can reach the first stock ordered by retailers. Actually, it’s not an impossible goal but the time needed to arrive might be dangerous for future Level-5 games.

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