GTA: Chinatown Wars sales 'frustrating' - Nintendo

Sales executive for console maker criticizes Take-Two's marketing support for disappointing DS debut of open-world crime series.

Nintendo has experienced unprecedented success with older gamers in recent years, but ironically, games rated M for Mature (audiences 17 and older) have frequently struggled on the platform. For example, Take-Two Interactive's blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series debuted on the DS earlier this year with Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars but has barely broken sales of 250,000 at US retailers in the intervening months.

Nintendo thinks Chinatown Wars could have been a bigger hit for the DS if Take-Two had promoted it more.

In an interview with MTV, Nintendo executive vice president of sales and marketing Cammie Dunaway acknowledged the critically acclaimed open-world crime game's commercial struggles and laid some blame for it at Take-Two's feet.

"It's frustrating, quite frankly," Dunaway said, noting that some M-rated titles like Resident Evil: Wii Edition have managed to sell a million units on Nintendo systems. "Part of what's needed is you have to continue to put marketing support behind these titles. The old dynamic of 'Throw it on television for a few weeks and then move on and forget it' just doesn't work, because new consumers are coming in all the time who are interested. So you've gotta keep coming up with ways to expose it."

When the game sold fewer than 90,000 copies at US retailers in its debut month, Take-Two representatives showed faith in the title, saying, "We're confident in Chinatown Wars' long-term success and believe it will continue to sell well." Since then, Chinatown Wars has arrived on the PSP and has been announced for Apple's iPhone.

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179 comments
FireboltDS
FireboltDS

people understimate the power of the dual screen device

basangicu
basangicu

This just proves that the Nintendo DS is for a younger audience.

BTroxell
BTroxell

I agree with all the people saying "promotion wasn't bad people just weren't interested".

funbunny
funbunny

I don't think you blame the sales on Take2. They published a great game, but the vast majority of DS gamers weren't interested.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

To honest, I actually wholeheartedly agree w/ what Dunaway stated and to frank it certainly makes a lot of sense. Rock* should have made some harder pushes; but also I think unfortunately Nintendo, itself, has also got to think of now how much damage all the DS's shovelware and wack fluff titles is the blame for why such an awesome game as Chinatown falling flat. Maybe because of the fact that Nintendo only seemed to portray the DS in a certain light (whether true or not); probably gives publishers the impression that there isn't any 'mature' adult audience out there--which might explain, I guess, why Rock* didn't make that big of a advertising effort. Retailers, too, should also be held accountable as well for not making better efforts on making this title visiable also; though I suspect this as largely to do w/ the perceived 'demographic' that retailers think buy DS game--so more likely I'd assume many of them probably were pretty timidated by carry a GTA title that happen to be on the DS. ...a pity, really, considering this is truly one helluva game for the DS. Hell, it was actually one of my reason that finally convinced me to get a DS this year (out of the almost 5 yrs of it being on the market).

-Fromage-
-Fromage-

Too bad, people are missing out.

DMLSLAT
DMLSLAT

Why does everyone think Nintendo's target audience is 5-year-olds? Last I checked they say over and over again they want to appeal to everyone. They sure make me happy with Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Smash and Kart... I got Chinatown Wars, and liked it a lot. Before everyone on here starts blaming Nintendo, give them some credit first. DS's have sold like five times the amount PSPs have, so there's a market for GTA. The reason Chinatown probably struggled is that it was in the wake of IV on the big gun consoles.

Tommz7070
Tommz7070

Duh... The nintendo system is based for kids from ages 3 to 12. Lots of their parents would not let them play m rated games especially grand theft auto. And for those 17 year old playing DS right now man up and get a psp

Blueforce1746
Blueforce1746

These comments must be on repeat or something.

DeadlySpartanII
DeadlySpartanII

Right game for the wrong system, plain and simple. We all know that, a lot of us commented that. And so almost everyone knows why it isn't a success.

pikaby
pikaby

Both of Nintendo's consoles have a target audience that GTA just wasn't meant for. Hardcore, mature games will nearly always bomb on their systems, cause they're always marketed to the wrong people.

Abecale
Abecale

Dear Nintendo: The right game, wrong system to sell it on Stop blaming Take-Two for your target audience fail. Im sick of Nintendo never owning up to any of its trial and error mistakes.

gameking5000
gameking5000

Ha since when did Nintendo get frustrated

stziggy
stziggy

@mccainswedges: It's the same thing here in Wyoming too. If you want adult marketed stuff you have to order online. Our stores in town only care the family fare garbage. I'm looking at you Wal-Mart when I say that! I still say that pricing this game at $35 during a recession was a huge mistake. I got my copy for $25 online finally.

guichan
guichan

its so good like a betray , because Chinatown wars isnt a eclusive game anymore , and about rockstar , when they will leave that GTA based situation ? its really a good game but thats only

AdamWriter
AdamWriter

If I cared to buy a DS, I'd purchase this for it. Along with other games too, of course.

mccainswedges
mccainswedges

It's weird that it isn't selling - but then check out a department store or even dedicated video game retailers (Here in Australia at least) and the DS shelves are packed to the brim with those horrendous Petz titles or those Imagine games, or even the brain training spinoffs - if you're even looking for a video game (let alone hardcore - I'm just talking platformers here) you have to really search for them as their shelf space pales in comparison to the shovelware - As for Chinatown Wars - haven't seen it in a major Dept Store, EB had a copy buried somewhere amongst the pre-owned shelves - eventually found it in JB Hi-Fi on Sale for $39 - about 4 weeks after its launch - I couldn't beleive my luck (most DS games retail from $50-$70 new in Aus - extortion I know) best DS game I have played but something is very wrong if they panicked on price so quickly. So I blame the major retailers who give over shelf space to the shovelware makers, was in a Kmart today looking at the DS games - what's the biggest game in the world at the moment - Call of Duty - do you think this major chain had any of the 3 DS releases on their shelves... FAIL.

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

I thought it was promoted very well actually.

aaronobst
aaronobst

Bought the PSP version Better display

bluedeathking
bluedeathking

@redskinStu your right that resident evil dont have the same audience due to the fact that GTA series appeal to more of the wannabe/casual gamer audience which once found out it was done in top down decide not to get the game. the fan base of GTA isn't as devoted to the series compare to the resident evil series audience which would stick to the series through the hard time where review where sick of the old style of play of the series. but any game that try to do something different these days it tend to not due good in sales look at games like blazblue or valkyria chronicals which where great game.

Scisor50
Scisor50

And most M gamers are actually not mature. Whilst grown-ups have PSP's a lot of teens have DSs. And trust me, a lot of teens play M games. Most of the games I own are M in my case anyway.

Cabal23
Cabal23

How do you market a M game to a G audience? Maybe that is why they did so little advertising for it. Who are you advertising to is the first questions you ask? Then you ask if the money spent will equal returns. You can't really advertise GTA on Nickelodeon, and they already know not enough of their demographic will buy into the M world fantasy that is GTA, so why would they waste their money? Sounds like a bad idea from the start. Most grown ups have PSP's and I Touch's for their handheld gaming and that would be the market you would advertise to.

_Elric_
_Elric_

Bottom Line: Blood and Guts M games do not sell well on systems where 99% of the players are either casual gamers or under the age of 10.

dzimm
dzimm

BoondockSaint66: "What a great game that Rockstar developed for the DS only to have Nintendo turn around and blame bad sales on R*'s lack of advertising." Which seems perfectly reasonable. There was some buzz leading up to the game's release, and then it disappeared off the radar. Whose fault is that? Certainly not Nintendo's. Rockstar should have kept the marketing pressure on for another couple of months at least to take advantage of the stellar reviews and positive word of mouth.

redskinStu
redskinStu

RE and GTA don't necessarily have the same audience.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

I partially agree with Ms. Dunaway. When it comes to Mature Wii and DS titles, you have to continue to push the product and keep it in the public view for much longer than it would need on other platforms. This is because of the different audience that the Nintendo consoles lives off of. However, Nintendo has put their products into that position, where Mature titles are going to have a hard time selling no matter what. Publishers have to look at the risk/reward for spending so much on more advertising just because its on a Nintendo platform. With poor sales numbers, this just forces Publishers to put their Mature-rated games on other platforms where they will have more success. _

BoondockSaint66
BoondockSaint66

What a great game that Rockstar developed for the DS only to have Nintendo turn around and blame bad sales on R*'s lack of advertising. Sure, they probably counted on word of mouth to tally up the sales, and I'm sure it worked for a while, but don't blame the software company for not moving more of your hardware. You want the sales, Nintendo? You have to compromise, and we all know you don't like to do that. Business is business I suppose, you can't just make a great game. It's all about the money.

Bortson
Bortson

Why RE4 on the Wii was an epic success was that the addition of the remote to the game made it a perfect addition to an already stellar game. The DS to me is a portable SNES simulator (nothing wrong with that) for old school style games. My GF is getting one for X-mas and I already called dibs on it for Mario and Zelda. We got Scribblenauts and the puzzle games on our radar and shes got some of the more casual games on hers. And when I need my GTA (or other FPS/violent game) fix, well that was the 360 (or PS3) is for

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@maxsteel86 "True the games you mentioned are pretty good. But going along the flavour of those games, would you recommend I buy a DS over a PSP?" Er, I guess I'd have to say yes, since they're all DS exclusives. But why does one have to choose? I own both a DS and a PSP, and can therefore subsist happily on nothing but the top portable games. If nothing sexy comes out for the DS for a few months, no problem... the PSP picks up the slack. And vice versa.

thps48
thps48

Was that last sentence a skillfully veiled mock? XD

maxsteel86
maxsteel86

@Rottenwood True the games you mentioned are pretty good. But going along the flavour of those games, would you recommend I buy a DS over a PSP?

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@maxsteel86 There are plenty of excellent DS games that are played primarily, if not entirely, with the buttons. All of the Castlevania games, the Mario and Luigi RPGs, all of the great platformers minus Scribblenauts, the Advance Wars games, Shin Megami Tensei, Contra 4, etc., etc. Do a little research and you'd be rewarded. "Nothing on the Wii or DS interests me, nothing." People are cute when they try too hard.

maxsteel86
maxsteel86

@Rottenwood "The only gamers that don't own one are self-conscious guys in their teens and twenties who base their personal machismo on the software they buy." Actually, gamers who like playing with buttons and those analog sticks as opposed to a stylus have also not bothered to get one. Nothing on the Wii or DS interests me, nothing. And I've played FFX-2 all the way through to the end. How's that for a girly game?

richioso
richioso

We already have GTA games on the PSP so no real need for a port of a DS GTA game

dysonlu
dysonlu

Yeah, kids play GTA but those kids, the "Mortal Kombat" type of kids, don't wanna play GTA on the cute and tiny DS. In fact, they probably don't care much about the DS and owns a PSP.

angelGP32
angelGP32

@leo-colt: go to vgchartz and pull them both up. At first glance I would say you are right about the sales, but then you look and see how the PSP version the sales are increasing, two fold, while the DS declines. The PSP out sold the DS looks like over 2 - 1, 26,280 for PSP compared to DS 11,785, and that was only in America, if you count all the regions, the PSP still outsold the DS version. Then you will also notice 2 other things #1. The PSP version has only been out for what 2 months? and #2. The PSP version is not available in any other region yet. Still looks like a flop though, but it is selling better on the PSP, at least for the time being, and it probably will once or should i say IF it goes to other regions.

angelGP32
angelGP32

because how many commercials for older DS and Wii games do you see on TV, none, just try to pass the blame Nintendo, I hate you more and more with every ridiculous comment that comes out of your mouth. No amount of marketing commercials would have mattered when your target demographic is ALL BELOW the M age threshold. So you want what? You want Take Two to run commercials until your targeted audience grows up??? Give me a break you morons. Nintendo can officially suck my balls now. Until they go back to how they operated in the days of the NES and SNES I will not buy another Nintendo product.

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

I bought the PSP version. Great game. Anyone know how well it sold on PSP?

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@shani_boy101 Right, because kids don't want to play Grand Theft Auto. If there's one thing kids hate, it's forbidden mature content that makes them feel older and cooler when they get their hands on it. Kids play Grand Theft Auto by the truckload thanks to feeble age laws, uninformed parents, and older siblings. The DS is going to be the number one-selling system of all time when the dust settles. That's not hyperbole, that's pure raw data. The only gamers that don't own one are self-conscious guys in their teens and twenties who base their personal machismo on the software they buy.

OneMoarLevel
OneMoarLevel

Didnt know there are so many Nintendo haters on gamespot.Just to let u know I am 16 years old and I am playing on my ds almost every day. I have 36 games and I think u need to shut up cause games on it arent kiddy.Its really good system. GTA is a good game and Nintendo shouldnt complain.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

it's probably because the majority of DS gamers are under 12 and simply get their parents to buy shovelware because it's a movie/tv spinoff and they don't know if it's good or not before buying it. And please, Nintendo, don't give me this bull**** about it being Take Two's fault. You made two platforms geared specifically towards kids, casuals, families and old people, and allow a flood of worthless shovelware games in the process. now you pay the price.

daqua_99
daqua_99

Just proves that a quality game isn't enough, it actually needs marketing support behind it ...

roryk666
roryk666

this game is really good and deserves to sell better.

Leo_Colt
Leo_Colt

I'm not Crazy Cammie's biggest fan, but she is absolutely right. GTA IV had a huge marketing blitz. Chinatown Wars was indeed on TV for a week or two and that's about it. There was barely any promotion. And before anyone screams "women and children demographic" at me, consider this: It didn't sell well on the PSP either. Are we to assume that the PSP is mostly owned by women and children?

Phacet
Phacet

Is it any surprise? Young girls aren't interested in gta, and they're the only people that play ds

firehawk998
firehawk998

The sales of this game is a great tragedy. It is simply one of the best hanheld games ever but it got dismal sales thanks to the demographic of the DS. Think about it the DS is mostly owned by casual gamers and a few hardcore gamers ( I own one also) and the product is seen as a family friendly device to the eyes of many. After the recent controversy surronding the GTA series Nintendo didnt want to risk marketing this game on thier device in fear of parents suing Nintendo. Thus Nintendo didnt market this game well in fear of backlash from parenting groups (remember something similar happened like this when Nintendo released Madworld) and thus the dismal sales of this game. Honestly I thing Rockstar should have released this game first on the PSP.

Henninger
Henninger

Gotta agree with Nintendo on this 1. I saw the ads 4 this game 4 like a week & then it stopped.

finaleve
finaleve

@ St_muscat GTA started as a top-down game...so obviously did something right with the series in the first place. I'm pretty sure I've seen some ads on TV but honestly...they sucked. Had no idea what was really going on, little idea of the story so I wasn't hooked.

Freezezzy
Freezezzy

Generic_Dude said ":: cut to shot of a landfill in the American Southwest with millions of copies of Cooking Mama being buried ::" Probably the same one where all those (Atari 2600) ET games went.