Curious if writing about a game constantly in the media has anything to do with sales and hype? Well, there’s an actual breakdown showcasing how often certain games and game systems were written about throughout 2015. Surprisingly, CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3 came out on top, but it was followed very closely by Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 4.
GamesIndustry.biz picked up the report from ICO Partners who did a visual breakdown on the figures. We see that more than 51,000 articles were written about The Witcher 3, which managed to sell 6 million copies within eight weeks of release, as noted by Gamerant. Fallout 4 garnered just over 50,000 articles and shipped 12 million SKUs in the first week of release. What’s interesting is that the game wasn’t announced until June, so between June and December it managed just less than a thousand articles than The Witcher 3, which had been back in early 2013.
GTA V also topped the chart, trailing behind the other two behemoths with 49,000 articles covering it throughout 2015. A large portion of those I imagine are from bits about the modding scene. What’s interesting is that GTA V topped 54 million copies being sold since debuting in 2013, but from May, 2015 to August 2015 the game had managed to sell almost 3 million additional copies, according to Gamezone. A lot of those copies were attributed to the PC version of the game, where it launched in April of 2015 and sold a million copies in pre-orders alone, but ended 2015 at 3.9 million copies sold on Steam alone, according to SteamSpy.
According to ICO analyst Thomas Bidaux, he stated…
“”Fallout 4 had a dream start at E3, getting record breaking coverage during the event,” […] “But the coverage it received on release, 16,000 articles in the month of November, is way, way more than the highest number of articles for a single game in a month. In 2014, the game with the most articles in a given month was Watch Dogs with close to 11,000 articles when it was released in May, with the close second GTA 5 with 9,600 articles in November, both of those performances being quite unique during the year. Here we have Fallout 4 with close to 50 per cent more articles than the best of those performance in November. Truly a phenomenon.”
You can check out the chart for all of the top 16 most discussed games below.
The interesting thing about it is that ARK: Survival Evolved did not make the list and it managed to sell close to 2.5 million copies between June and December, as reported by Gamespot. For a little bit of reference, the PS4 exclusive Bloodborne – which managed to make the list as the 11th most written about game of the year with 26,000 articles – only managed to sell 2 million copies between March and September, according to a report by DualShockers.
Now there’s two things to take away from those figures: one is that without all those articles Bloodborne may not have even managed to sell 2 million copies. And two is that even with all those articles the market just wasn’t interested enough to boost sales beyond 2 million copies.
Either way, it’s impressive from Studio Wildcard that they managed to generate the publicity they did (coming off the launch of Jurassic World no less) and garner the same level of sales as a highly promoted AAA blockbuster.
What’s more is that there’s another piece of the chart that shows how often and how much the various gaming platforms have been discussed. The PlayStation brand was talked about more than 562,000 times in various articles across 2015, with the PS4 making up 460,000 mentions all its own, and the PS3 and PS Vita having 137,000 and 64,000 respectively.
Xbox was third in line, with the brand itself receiving 396,000 articles regarding the all-American brand, and the Xbox One wasn’t far behind with an individual 337,000 articles all its own. The Xbox 360 was further down the pack, with only 94,000 mentions… likely because Sony has supported the PS3 a lot more than Microsoft has supported the Xbox 360. The former still has a sizable collection of games coming out while the latter gets nothing but scraps.
The poor Wii U was trailing way far behind at only 98,000… but it managed to outpace the Nintendo 3DS, which only had 93,000 articles written about it. What’s fascinating here is that the 3DS gets way more games than the Wii U, but it still managed to make it less in the media than its bigger sibling. Perhaps all those “Nintendoom” articles about the Wii U compensates for all the positive articles about the 3DS?
Steam has a respectable position on the chart with 134,000 articles, although given that majority of the noteworthy PC games that come out for it makes it seem like it would be mentioned a lot more than it was. It either means a lot of websites just don’t cover Steam games or a lot of website just don’t write much about PC gaming in general. Given the fact that a lot of developers practically beg for coverage, I’m going to assume it’s the latter.
The list rounds out with Oculus, which is interesting because it’s not even a game system just a peripheral. But it shows some gumption by ending up on the list with more than 26,000 articles written about it.
Bidaux offered his own take on the numbers, stating…
“Of course, we can see the outcome of Microsoft being the only platform holder with a media conference at gamescom. It is the one month in the year where they clearly close the gap with Sony’s console, even if they don’t necessarily reach the same level.
“Finally, the steady performance of the PlayStation over the last quarter is quite remarkable. A steady release of AAA games helps, but the positive effect of the PlayStation Experience on the media coverage is tremendous and the one reason that December, an otherwise slow month for the other platforms, is one of the strongest for [Sony] – right in time for Christmas.
“I think the competitors should take a page from Sony’s playbook on this.”
Not really sure what they should take from Sony’s playbook… especially when you consider that none of the top exclusives from any home console made it into the top 10 selling games of 2015. I would chalk up Sony’s continued success to starved competition, Microsoft’s 2013 blunders, and the only viable platform for multiplatform AAA titles. Sony is winning by default.
Anyway, the numbers are very interesting and it definitely gives some insight into the hype machine, the sales machine and how discussion and chatter ebb and flow around a game based on how prevalent it is in the media.
(Main image courtesy of S4LEM)