Chinatown Wars sells under 90,000 units in March

Raw sales numbers show startlingly small DS debut for Grand Theft Auto series, but Take-Two and analysts confident about game's long-term success.

Earlier this week, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research director of analyst services Jesse Divnich made headlines for predicting a lackluster US debut for Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Whereas other analysts such as Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter were predicting that the game would sell around 450,000 units, Divnich shocked many by saying that the game--one of the highest-rated ever released for the Nintendo DS--would sell only "in the 200,000 unit range."

Though widely dismissed as overly pessimistic, Divnich's prediction appeared to be validated when the NPD Group released its March US Sales numbers today. They revealed that Chinatown Wars hadn't even cracked the software top 10, where the lowest-performing game, MLB Baseball 2K9, sold just 205,000 units. Given the hype behind Chinatown Wars, it was widely assumed to have finished just below that figure, despite the industry's overall 17 percent slump during the month.

Unfortunately, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars wasn't lagging just behind MLB Baseball 2K9--it was lagging far behind. According to raw NPD numbers provided to GameSpot by a source who wished to remain anonymous, the Rockstar Leeds game sold just less than 90,000 units in the US during the March reporting period, generating slightly more than $3 million in revenue. By contrast, the month's other high-profile DS debut, Pokemon Platinum, sold a whopping 805,000 units.

Speaking to GameSpot, a rep for Rockstar Games parent Take-Two Interactive expressed confidence that the game would gradually pick up steam. "We're confident in Chinatown Wars' long-term success, and believe it will continue to sell well," said the rep.

Take-Two's sentiments were echoed by Divnich himself, who underlined the fact that DS sales don't necessarily match up with the usual launch-week spike followed by a rapid decline. "It could very well bump up next month with sales of the DSi, and we are very likely going to see steady sales going out from there," the analyst told GameSpot. "It's going to sell the same month after month until the end of the game's life cycle. This is not a short-term in-and-out situation for Take-Two, it's going to generate income for them long haul."

As an example how a high-rated DS game could generate huge revenue after a slow start, Divnich held up Mario Kart DS. When it debuted in November 2005, the game sold only 222,000 units in the US, generating only about $7.3 million. More than three years on, the game is still popular, ranking eighth place on the February 2009 NPD best-seller list with 145,000 units sold that month.

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Discussion

327 comments
dbj-uk
dbj-uk

gta on psp was just so and so but on a ds?what could you expect? im not a hardcore loving gta fan but i do like playing it when i heard of Chinatown wars, as an asian myself would like to buy it, but knowing it is on ds and with screenshots of gameplay i knew it wouldn't be my game. ds isn't a bad console but its not meant for these kind of games it should stick to mario cart or games that are just casual which is their selling point/audience. my nephew loves his ds but i prefer my psp.

xXZak-ataKXx
xXZak-ataKXx

Not surprised really,GTA isnt ment for the handhelds,even the ones on the psp were not as good as the console versions.:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

i just dont like GTA games .. no thrill ,your a mob or something steal cars kill some bozo no decent stroy enough said. plus expensive 34.99 :) if they put it at 19.99 its gonna sell like pancake little profit but continous sales :)

Sk8rlink
Sk8rlink

sorry I meant couldn't buy legit, XD

Sk8rlink
Sk8rlink

Just goes to show, more than 65% of DS owners are little kids who could buy GTA legit, but it's nice that there actually good games coming onto the DS I sold mine cause I preferred a book over it, but also sad that a "new" Pokemon beat this game.

d3emondav3
d3emondav3

How old do you guys think someone should be to play this? I've seen 8 year olds playing this, and that is waaay too young. But a 14-15 year old could play it for sure. Do you guys agree?

Futil1ty
Futil1ty

This was the first time I've watched that review. I didn't know much about the game, and I don't own a DS... But the review made it look like THE BEST GTA EVER. I want,

cashkilla_basic
cashkilla_basic

Hopefully game sales pick up. This is exactly the type of game we need more of on the DS. I think we're all getting tired of endless Cooking Mama and WarioWare styled minigame-games.

Chin3se_Pride
Chin3se_Pride

Trust me there's over 800000 people playing that game. The reason its only less than 90000 is because these are the only people that bought the game legit. Considering its rated M, and kids will want to play it, so they found otherway to get it, if you know what i a mean.

nappan
nappan

@Old Captaini: Fair enough, I can appreciate gameplay improvements that are outside of the engine. Despite being a little dissapointed that GTAIV had more of a "Liberty City" than a "San Andreas" style, I was amazed by how alive the city seemed. The amount of voice acting alone was stunning. Frankly, GTA:CW is just a slightly glossier rehash of GTA 1 & 2. Granted, those were good games, but they played themselves out, and evolved. I understand that my view is skewed by my deep dislike of handheld gaming, and I realize that a lot of what I'm talking about reflects my taste more than anything else. If I came off as having been upset, I apologize.

Old_Captaini
Old_Captaini

Didn't intend to strike any nerves with that comment.......Certainly GTA IV is superior in most ways to GTACW.... just by nature of sheer horsepower of the engine able to be deployed on the consoles. I was just pointing out Rockstar did a great job of optimizing the capabilities of the DS and making GTA CW as an immersive experience as GTA IV though certainly in a different way. The place where I think they moved the franchise forward was with the minigame tasks required for many of the actions in the game such as stealing a car, making molotovs, hijacking trucks, etc.. Being able to do so much with the PDA was handy too, such as order weapons, check e-mail, get directions. Just a lot of nice touches and attention to detail you don't normally see in a DS title.

nappan
nappan

[quote]Old Captaini posted: "...and truly rivals and in some ways exceeds the game play in GTA IV!"[/quote] In what way does CW exceed the gameplay experience of a living city from GTAIV?

Old_Captaini
Old_Captaini

Very surprising...........Chinatown wars is an excellent game. A full blown Liberty City experience in the palm of your hand. It doesn't feel watered down at all and has some really neat unique game play elements of its own. It is superior in terms of gameplay to the PSP GTA outings, and truly rivals and in some ways exceeds the game play in GTA IV! Perhaps the overall DS gamer population (except for me) is much younger than on other consoles, so perhaps there won't be as many takers right off as on the console versions. Even though it is a masterpiece....it is NOT a game for the kiddies......they need to stick to Zelda and Super Mario. Maybe with the roll out of the DSi and GTACW mature gamers may start to take notice.

xunhallowed
xunhallowed

Well, this happens to be one of the most pirated DS games, mainly because of the pathetic security features in it that were hacked before the game was even officially released, but hey, these are the risks you take with portable games.

JimBurber
JimBurber

I own it, I like it. It's fun to play to kill the time. The cops are way more fun to antagonize than that of GTA IV which I found to be a very dissapointing game in most categories. Personally I love the overhead racers/drivers, I always have since the days I used to sit and play Offroad or Super Sprint, or even Auto Racing for the intellivision :) and enjoy when a new one comes out that I can play around with for a while.

Malco_Vincenzo
Malco_Vincenzo

@ people saying that this game is AWSOME give it about another month the novelty of having a GTA game on the DS will wear off. I just found a copy of both GTA 1 and 2, it's the same gameplay minus the stylus controls.

fabz_95
fabz_95

That's pretty dissapointing for Rockstar but it really is an amazing game and I advise all ds owners to buy it ( as long as you're old enough :P )

xbox4life76
xbox4life76

There is only soo much money we can fork over for new titles...there is no way everytime there is a new release, people are always going to go out and buy...

KAISERKONG
KAISERKONG

I guess there are just too many systems in the hands of younger gamers to think GTA would sell more than it did, but it's sure to be a good seller over the life of the system.

LAboy06
LAboy06

bought a DS Lite with my copy of this Saturday, awesome game! Seriously, GTA perfectly gets translated to the DS. I'm having more fun with this game than I did with GTA:VCS on my PSP. Everybody buy this game! If you dont have a DS, buy and DS and this game! Support R*, they did an amazing job with this game!

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

ds and gta dont go together, its a shame because its a really good game but its like microsoft and blu ray, they just don't go together

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

Handheld gaming is a totally different animal. You don't generally get the huge opening week sales that a console gets, outside of something like Pokemon, Nintendo's golden goose for portables. As the article stated, the big hits take months or even years to generate revenue. But speaking as a consumer, I'm not really interested in the game, even as a grown married man who loves his DS. I prefer the sort of games that aren't flooding the home consoles already - 2D adventures, quirky RPGs, Loco Roco and Patapon, etc.

Malco_Vincenzo
Malco_Vincenzo

@ tawagivercetti TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS NOT NEEDED. STOP BEING OBNOXIOUS.

tawagivercetti
tawagivercetti

CHINATOWN WARS IS THE REINCARNATE OF GTA 2 ON STEROIDS, REDBULL AND REDRUM. ROCKSTAR LONDON IS GREAT AND ALL BUT THEY NEED TO STOP SNORTING SHERBERT OFF THE BREASTS OF HOOKERS JUST FOR A FEW HOURS EACH DAY AND MAKE A NEW GTA FOR PSP ALREADY. PLEASE. PREFERABLY SAN ANDREAS STORIES. SAN ANDREAS WAS SO ENJOYABLE AND HAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR EITHER A PORTABLE SEQUAL OR STORIES LIKE VCS/LCS. YES THE MAP IS BIG, CERTAINLY THEY HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO FIT EVERYTHING IN BY NOW. THE CHOICE OF LEAD CHARACTER IS ENDLESS- THE TRUTH WOULD BE HILARIOUS OR MAYBE cj'S BROTHER, BRIAN?, TENPENNY? GTAIV STORIES OR THE LOST AND DAMNED STORIES WOULD ALSO BE VIABLE ALTERNATIVES. BTW TO: ADUTTYFOOT BUY A DSi, ALWAYS LOOK TO THE FUTURE. DSi HAS INCREDIBLE POTENTIAL.

REA24409
REA24409

Can't say I am not surprised >_>

Princess_Rectum
Princess_Rectum

@gypsygib: "Should have released it on PSP, DS owners are children and girls" Yeah you're totally much cooler than that demographic!

aduttyfoot
aduttyfoot

"baystatethrashr People buy this game if you own a DS and dont own this game you really need to stop playing games this game is amazing. Its a shame" man i had no idea this game was so good, it reminds me of gta2 which i loved to death. just watching the video got me excited. i guess i will be picking it up with a dsi. i currently dont own a ds so i guess if i was going to get one i should go with the dsi, unless someone on here can give me a good enough reason to get the dslite instead.

gypsygib
gypsygib

Should have released it on PSP, DS owners are children and girls

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

After GTA4, no wonder. I just found it very strange that the reviewers seemed to love it but people like me who bought it, hate it. It's a boring and repetitive game, just go into any comment section on any article for it and you will see a lot of hate directed towards the game. I thought it was kind of depressing and dark, not fun at all.

maverick_76
maverick_76

Over time the game will sell well but I agree with the sentiment that mature material will never garner the numbers that Mario & Co. are used to. Lets face it, less than half of all NDS' are actually owned by hardcore gamers, or gamers that actually would have an interest in this type of game. This is the reason we keep seeing kid-friendly title after kid-friendly title, they sell like the dickens on Nintendo products while these more mature titles sell well on the more "hardcore" systems, I don't know why this was not on the PSP, I bet that it would have done better than 90,000 pieces sold.

Chin3se_Pride
Chin3se_Pride

Trust me there's over 800000 people playing that game. The reason its only less than 90000 is because these are the only people that bought the game legit.

FoxExecutive
FoxExecutive

@kejigoto I agree a lot with what you said. Nintendo has had a really bad rap for being kid friendly ever since the Nintendo 64. Being friendly to everyone, doesn't make you friendly to just kids. What it means is that you are being primarily given a gaming experience that everyone can enjoy, without being offended or taken back by mature material. Now, when a game like Grand Theft Auto comes along it's a pleasant surprise to see a great gaming experience with material that caters to a more specific audience. Really, it's funny. Back in the days of the SNES and Sega, a more mature experience would usually mean a shock game with terrible gameplay. It wasn't until Mortal Kombat that the idea of great mature rated games really took off. In all honesty, it is a shame how many video games enthusiasts think about what makes a great game nowadays.

kejigoto
kejigoto

@ diceXVII And this is the exact mindset that is ruining gaming, just because Nintendo opens its doors to other types of games doesn't mean developers need to forsake any other form for that platform. I wouldn't expect any 12 year old girl out there to be interested in this game, and no parent should be buying this sort of game for their child unless they are 17 or older, so bringing your 12 year old into this wasn't exactly the best idea. Heck my 17 year old sister wouldn't want to play something like this but those that I know who have a DS and are of the right age are really wanting to get this game and try it out, especially after seeing me playing it at work or just talking about it. Honestly I think Chinatown Wars is more of a GTA game than IV was by a long shot and the controls work amazingly well for it. I'd much rather have a game built from the ground up around a platform like the DS than a game built from the ground up with the PS2 in mind but start it off on the PSP before later porting it over to the platform it'll work best on.

Cicatraz_ESP
Cicatraz_ESP

I plan on getting this soon, but their are still a bunch of other great games I want as well, so we'll just have to see how soon I get around to playing this. The DS really does have a large amount of high quality titles.

diceXVII
diceXVII

It looks like a good game, but this game shouldn't be on the DS. Nintendo DS focus more on the younger generation kids, 6-14yrs and most of them are girls. Parents wouldn't bother buying them this game. They want cute games. My daughter who's 12yrs old doesn't want this game on her DS and she doesn't even want me to touch her DS lol. Put this game on PSP and I wouldn't think twice of buying it. I agree with riou7, mature games won't sell well on the DS.

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

San Andreas Stories, here we come!!!

Pwnage-sama
Pwnage-sama

I think this game is awesome, but it's release date is was very close to Pokemon Platinum's, which we all know that a lot of people love. It's just that not every DS gamer have the money to buy 2 great DS titles at once. I mean, even I prioritized on getting Pokemon Platinum first, but now I'm planning to get GTA Chinatown Wars. I have a really great feeling that this game will sell, just wait and see.

BigBen11111
BigBen11111

Maybe they would of done better with some DSi content.

OG_GhostKilla
OG_GhostKilla

I really hope this sells a ton in the long run, it's a great game.

Nintendo2Brawl
Nintendo2Brawl

im under 18 and i have almost beat the game it is a good ds game i would go buy it if you have a ds

riou7
riou7 moderator moderator

mature games doesn't sell well on nintendo system

fabz_95
fabz_95

Well a lot of people owning the DS is under 18 thus ruling out a lot of people being able to buy the game so that may be one reason.

chickenfeed9
chickenfeed9

The people who would buy this (myself included) tend to use the psp much more than the DS. Release this on the psp, and i'll buy it.

Bufta
Bufta

Ive got the game and its a cracker (no doubt) but im a hardcore gamer who just happens to have a DS. The usual demographic for the DS is kids and or women not teenage lads up to men in their 20s and 30's. Thats the simple reason for the poor sales. They should release this on PSP then watch those numbers jump significantly.

crudmanIV
crudmanIV

tekken220 Posted Apr 18, 2009 7:41 am GMT i thought little kids are gta addicts... besides, parents would buy them a psp and a pireted copy of gta vice city stories (unquote) depends which country you live in. Us aussies are pretty sensitive to our feeble, unstable, impressionable minds. (if you didnt know, I'm speaking ironically)

Weddum
Weddum

This is what happens when you produce a game when the largest currently installed userbase are kids or casual gamers who aren't into that type of game. Also can't forget about all the people who think they are too "mature" to own a DS because they have the idea it is a kids console. When there is no such thing. Seriously some people need to grow up and realise their big manly image isn't going to get destroyed owning a particular console.

tekken220
tekken220

i thought little kids are gta addicts... besides, parents would buy them a psp and a pireted copy of gta vice city stories

gnrlstuart
gnrlstuart

what did they expect from a casual gamer audience, made up of mostly young children and people who have never bought a new game in their life.