Would More Transparency Help Video Game Sales?

Would More Transparency Help Video Game Sales?


I lack access to NPD’s data, so here’s a picture from VGChartz.

I’ve been thinking about video game sales recently. When a summer blockbuster movie is on the way it doesn’t take much effort to learn the cost it took to make it. Run a Google search on Iron Man 3, scroll down to the Wikipedia page, and you’ll see that production ran roughly $200 million. Try the same tactic with this year’s biggest release thus far, BioShock Infinite and you’re out of luck. Indeed budget data for video games often tends something of a mystery.

The estimated cost of the project is upward of $100 million, not including marketing expenses, which could add another $100 million, analysts said. That is considered a large budget even among blockbuster franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Halo and Call of Duty.

That’s a quote from a New York Times article posted back on March 21st. Not exactly hard data.

I recall when The Dark Knight came out and it was selling like gang-busters. I’d go to Rotten Tomatoes to look at how well it was doing. I remember others, in the comment section, doing the same. Some spoke of wanting to see it to break records and so they planned to see the film additional times. I wonder, would video games sales would benefit from more transparency? Recently Square Enix released information on sales data concerning their last two quarters.

The following comes from Games Rader:

Based on “game quality,” Metacritic ratings, and genre, the publisher decided Sleeping Dogs had the retail potential to sell 2 to 2.5 million in Europe and North America in fiscal year 2013, Hitman: Absolution 4.5 to 5 million, and Tomb Raider 5 to 6 million. Square Enix forecasted each game would sell about 80 to 90 percent of its potential.

I can’t help but wonder if sales would have been better if consumers had ready access to sales figures like one can easily find on movies. If consumers were more ‘in the loop’ with what a game’s budget and needed to sell to break even, be a success, and really knock it out of the park I have a feeling people might be a bit more inclined to support the developers and publishers whose work they appreciate.

Source: Games Radar and The New York Times. Top picture from VGChartz.

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