Sales Archive

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Sales & Specials: zombie-themed savings

If you’re lucky enough to have the Sales & Specials app available in your region, then you might want to check it out once every few days. Within that app is a simple Scratch & Match style game where you can win some cool free content but as long as you play the game (win or lose) you will be prompted to save some money on various pieces of content that appear to change about once per week. This week is offering a zombie-themed special and two XBLA games are included in the sale. You can pick up Zombie Apocalypse or All Zombies Must Die! both reduced by 240MSP. Be sure to pick them up through this app though as it is the only way to access these sale prices.

Zombie Apocalypse – Was 800 MSP – Is now 560 MSP – Download the trial

All Zombies Must Die! – Was 800 MSP – Is now 560 MSP – Download the trial 

Be sure to check out our review for All Zombies Must Die! and our review of Zombie Apocalypse if you aren’t sure if these are the right games for you. To access the Sales & Specials app, locate the “Sales & Specials” ad on your dashboard that is usually located in the games hub. This week the ad has a picture of Scott Pilgrim on it. Click on that ad and if you see the offer that is pictured above to download the Sales & Specials app, then you are good to go :)

11

XBLA Passes the 500 Game Milestone

During all the hoopla of E3, Xbox Live Arcade snuck silently past a rather large milestone as noticed by friend of the site, @Lifelower. Our own XBLA historian, Andrew Crews, confirmed the feat. The above image details all 500 titles, but actually has one slight mistake: it includes 1 vs 100 instead of an actual XBLA title. Can you figure out which?

So congrats to Bang Bang Racing and Virtua Fighter 5 for pushing the platform over the hump. Now if only Microsoft can figure out a way to sell the above image as a poster. We’d all buy a copy! Congratulations to the entire XBLA team and all the developers and publishers — past and present—who have helped shape this platform into what it is today.

Click here for the high-resolution image

2

The Walking Dead shambles its way to a million copies sold

The Walking Dead

The first episode of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead has officially sold a million copies in its first few weeks on the market, reports Joystiq. The figure takes into account both buyers who downloaded the first episode individually and those who bought a “Season Pass” for all five episodes, the report says.

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Editorial: Are gamers shopaholics, too?

It frightens me to think how much money I’ve spent over the years on video games. True, I may not be walking down Rodeo Drive with 20 handbags full of dresses, jewelry and shoes, but I really wonder how many of us could give the traditional shopaholic a run for her money when it comes to the amount of money we’ve dropped on games, guides, consoles, and the like. Considering consoles range from the 2-500 USD when they’re released and games have always been in the 50-60 USD range. Game guides are roughly half that price, as are controllers. Other game peripherals can be as much as twice the cost of a game.

Yikes.

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Robbie Bach partially credits Sony mistakes for Xbox’s success

When the Xbox 360 launched in November of 2005, the console wars were largely viewed as a two-horse race. Nintendo’s Wii was an afterthought in the minds of most industry analysts and executives — a belief that would be proven correct in terms of relevance among the traditional gamer audience, but so very wrong on the sales front, as it marched on to over 95 million units sold worldwide as of March. Rather, both popular and informed opinion said the battle would be fought between Sony and Microsoft.

Sony had spent the past 10 years decimating Nintendo and Sega’s positions as dominant forces in the industry by appealing to an older consumer and making the PlayStation 2 the best-selling home console of all time with more than 150 million consoles sold as of the end of last year. After having replaced the name “Nintendo” with “PlayStation” as a synonym for video games, the Tokyo, Japan-based electronics empire was feeling as invincible as Superman. With Nintendo having done its damnedest to torpedo its relationships with third-party developers and the software behemoth in Washington looking like the proverbial babe in the woods when it came the console biz, Sony could see no kryptonite in sight. Of course, few outsiders did either at the time.

Had it not allowed the pride that success brought to convince it that sinking so much of its PS and PS2 profits into the foolhardy enterprise of out-muscling the Xbox 360 with the PlayStation 3, however, it might have foreseen that it was on a path to learn the same hard and humbling lesson it had itself taught Nintendo. Instead, it produced an expensively priced machine that arrived a year late to the party and quickly built a reputation, fair or not, of being notoriously difficult to develop for. Geekwire reports that when he spoke to the Northwest Entrepreneur Network last week, Robbie Bach, former president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, highlighted how Sony’s miscalculations and mismanaged generational shift opened the door for the 360 to become the hugely profitable success that it is today.

“When you’re doing a startup, you need friends. It’s just the way life works,” Bach said. “It turned out we were able to convince retailers and publishers like Activision, Electronic Arts and others, that it was a good thing for Microsoft to be successful, because if we were not successful, the only game in town was Sony. Being dependent on somebody else was bad for them, and so they supported us disproportionately to what they should have, mathematically.”

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5

Stacking, Costume Quest and others have prices slashed

Five Xbox Live Arcade titles, including two from Double Fine, have had their prices temporarily cut. Costume Quest, Stacking, Voltron, Warhammer 40K: Kill Team and Apples to Apples have all seen price reductions of 50% as part of the THQ Publisher Sale. The deal applies to both Gold and Silver account members. In addition, all downloadable content for Stacking, Costume Quest and Apples to Apples has been reduced to half price. But are the games any good?

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0

Xbox 360 was U.S.’s top-selling console in January

The Xbox 360 outsold the competition in the U.S. last month and held down its position as the most popular console, reports Microsoft on its official blog. More than 270,000 units were sold in January, making the 360 the best-selling console 13 months running. Over on the software front, a handful of titles on the console made the top ten list: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, NBA 2K12 and Just Dance 3.

In monetary terms, the software giant hauled in $301 million between hardware, software and accessory revenues. Microsoft also took the opportunity to again remind everyone that its platform was number one in 2011 — a fact that should be obvious given that it has now outsold the PS3 and Wii for a year and one month.

Source: Official Microsoft Blog

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XBLA Fans: XBLA in review 2011

At XBLA Fans, there is no question that we love Xbox Live Arcade. We seek to provide our readers with the best possible source for XBLA content. If you aren’t familiar with XBLA please check out this post. While other websites do an excellent job with sales estimates, we sought to take another look at 2011, seeking trends and other information we thought our fans might be interested in:

  • Are XBLA prices actually increasing? We asked our own Ross Adams to investigate. You can find his results here.
  • Is Summer of Arcade worth the hype?  XBLA Fans Editor-in-Chief John Laster looks into past Summer of Arcades to see how 2011’s promotion stacks up.
  • How willing are developers to take risks on new IPs? Does XBLA provide a strong platform for developers to take chances? Ross Adams breaks down last year’s releases.
  • How often do XBLA games go on sale? Are there any specific trends that dictate when a game goes on sale? Newcomer Craig Hart analyzes the numbers.
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XBLA in Review 2011: Taking Risks (New IP, Established or ported)

2011 was a standout year on XBLA, we saw a cavalcade of amazing games released throughout the year. Many of the more memorable games were entirely new franchises, with impressive debuts like Bastion, Iron Brigade and Orcs Must Die! to name a few. With such high quality and seemingly successful new IP’s (Intellectual Properties) we were curious about the spread of new versus established IP.

We broke down the games into three categories, Ports & Remakes, these being any game that was specifically ported to XBLA (or just consoles in general). So that includes stuff like Bejeweled 3 and Sonic CD. Then there’s New IP; this is pretty self explanatory, it’s anything that isn’t a sequel or based on a previously established franchise or brand. Thirdly is Established IP which includes any sequels or licensed games. Unsurprisingly this was the largest category, with 51 games fitting the criteria. New IP came second with 30 games and Ports/Remakes only applied to 12 of the releases.

It’s often said that publishers are reluctant to take risks on new IP’s and as such will stick to tried and true formulas as those prove more popular. Sadly there aren’t reliable sales numbers for XBLA releases so we can’t compare those to see if this is true. We can however look at the average Metacritic score of our three specific categories.

Ports & Remakes have the highest average with 77, perhaps not surprising as the main reason many of these games that are ported or remade is because they’re already well regarded or popular. New IP is next with an average metascore of 69, not a score to be sniffed at. Bringing up the rear is Established IP with 64, which while not terrible is a tad disappointing in light of the other two.

What we see here is that remakes and ports seem to be well regarded for the most part, again this isn’t too surprising because they are usually ported or remade for a reason. If these games were good to begin with and the transfer to XBLA is solid then it’s hard for anyone to dock them for not doing anything different.

69 is a pretty reasonable score for New IPs we feel. When compared to the 64 for what are most licensed games in Established IP it does seem to indicate the risk is about the same. Of course it’s understandable that publishers (and even developers sometimes) would rather go with the safe bets, looking at these numbers it’s hard to see it as that big of a risk. And if downloadable platforms aren’t the best place to experiment then we don’t know where is.

We would love to see publishers and developers change these numbers, while some licensed games, remakes and the like can be a lot of fun and on XBLA especially are of a high quality. It’d be nice to see more New IPs bringing interesting and unique ideas with them. If it’s a choice between a beautiful, lovingly crafted and unique experience like Bastion and a disappointing, derivative and dull game like Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, we know which we’d choose.

Continue to: Looking at XBLA Sales

Return to: XBLA in Review 2011

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XBLA in review 2011: Is Summer of Arcade worth the hype?

Is Summer of Arcade Worth the Hype?

Believe it or not, we have been paying more money each year for lower average metascores. If that is the case, why does Summer of Arcade remain such a big deal for gamers? It wasn’t even mentioned at this year’s E3 Microsoft Press Conference, it was mentioned almost off handily in an interview beforehand. Is Summer of Arcade starting to diminish? Is it truly worth the hype?

[Editor’s note: while this piece frequently references Metacritic, we do not believe review scores should be treated as the end all be all of a games worth. XBLA Fans does not score games. We use a buy, try, skip system. However, as much of the rest of the industry, gamers, developers, publishers and some press still place a large weight on MC scores we can’t ignore them.]

Back in 2008, Microsoft underwent a promotion entitled Summer of Arcade. Back then, anyone who bought all five games, consisting of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, Braid, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Galaga Legions and Castles Crashers, would be entered in to win a grand prize of 100,000 Microsoft Points, a 12 Month Xbox Live Subscription and an Xbox 360 Elite Console. The following years would not need the same enticement as without question; it’s clear the first Summer of Arcade set a high bar for preceding years as it included the current XBLA sales leader (Castle Crashers) and Metacritic score leader (Braid).

This was followed up with the 2009 Summer of Arcade consisting of ‘Splosion Man, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Time Re-Shelled, Trials HD, and Shadow Complex. At the time, fans had been clamoring for a re-release of Marvel vs. Capcom for quite some time. And ‘Splosion Man and Trials HD became huge success stories that have both spawned sequels. But Shadow Complex arguably stole the show as it pushed the boundaries on what people believed was possible for an XBLA game.

But 2010 set a new benchmark, it was the first year all five titles, Limbo, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, Monday Night Combat, and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, launched at a 1200 point price tag. It’s hard to argue the price increase was unwarranted as games have been increasing in size scope over the years. Limbo was the true highlight breaking into the 90’s on Metacritic.

We debated back and forth for months internally about what games we felt would make 2011’s Summer of Arcade list. The resulting titles were very diverse: Toy Soldiers: Cold War (sequel to the highly popular hybrid tower defense title), Fruit Ninja Kinect (popular iOS game and the first Kinect XBLA game), Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (a Metroidvania title from the The Iron Giant’s Michel Gagne), From Dust (return of Eric Chahi), and Bastion (a captivating world by an indie darling). In the end, we were entirely pleased by the results. All five titles shined with four of the five placing on the top ten selling titles for the year.

Ironically enough, if you crunch the numbers 2008 was by far and away the best year for XBLA Fans. The Average Metacritic score was 84.8 (the highest), and the average price was 960 (the lowest). The following year has the second best numbers with 80 and 1040 respectively. Again the third year, saw a decrease in Metacritic Scores (79.2) and an increase in price (1200). This past year saw another decrease in score (78.8) but also saw a decrease in price (1120). In 2008 we paid an average 11.329 Microsoft Points for each Point of Metacritic Score earned by the Summer of Arcade titles, while in 2011 we paid an average 14.165 Microsoft Points for each Point of Metacritic Score by Summer of Arcade titles.

So if Summer of Arcade is arguably on the decline why do we care so much about it? We can tell you first hand there is a reason that almost every XBLA developer will tell you they are aiming for summer for their release window. Many of them are hoping to work their way into the Summer of Arcade promotion. It receives an unparalleled amount of promotion, both by Microsoft and by Press. Just looking toward Metacritic will prove this yet again. Bastion received 79 reviews on Metacritic and From Dust received 76 whereas few games outside of this promotion will even encroach on 50.

If you want to be noticed by both press and gamers who traditionally ignore XBLA titles, Summer of Arcade is your ticket. And in the end, what everyone is looking for is sales. Trials HD and Castle Crashers chronically sell at the top of every XBLA sales chart. And every year a new group of games are trying to break into that territory.

Continue to: Taking Risks (New IP, Established or ported)

Return to: XBLA in Review 2011

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