Only 200,000 Chinatown Wars sold in March?

Source: Today's NPD March US sales preview report by Jesse Divnich, director of analyst services for Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR). What we heard: One of the bigger surprises at Nintendo's E3 2008 media briefing was the unveiling of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. After...

Source: Today's NPD March US sales preview report by Jesse Divnich, director of analyst services for Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR).

What we heard: One of the bigger surprises at Nintendo's E3 2008 media briefing was the unveiling of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. After its suddenness wore off, the announcement of the first GTA game for the DS had as many supporters as it did skeptics. On the one hand, releasing a spin-off of 2008's second-biggest game* on 2008's most popular platform appeared to be a license to mint money. On the other, there were doubts whether the ultrafelonious game--which lets players steal cars, shoot enemies, deal drugs, and commit myriad other crimes--would translate well to the handheld's more family-oriented demographic.

Which position is correct will be determined this Thursday when the NPD Group releases US sales figures for March. But instead of being in near agreement, analysts are offering wildly diverging estimates on how the critically lionized Chinatown Wars fared. Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter believes that the game sold 450,000 units in the two weeks after it went on sale March 17, a solid debut by any standard. By contrast, EEDAR's Jesse Divinch thinks that the game's sales were in the 200,000-unit range--a number seized upon by the game-industry blogosphere.

"It appears the industry may have been overzealous with initial expectations on how GTA: Chinatown Wars would perform based upon the news it had received one of the highest-quality scores for a Nintendo DS title," wrote Divnich in his report. "It is important to note that there have been many other titles that achieved a quality score above 90 on the Nintendo DS and have failed to sell over 300,000 units within three months in North America (irrespective of ESRB rating)." Speaking with GameSpot, Divnich stressed he believes the game's sales were between 200,000 and 300,000 units.

Divnich also contends that with the trigger-happy game's lackluster debut, Take-Two Interactive may have shot the M-rated DS game market in the foot. "EEDAR believes the results of GTA: Chinatown Wars confirms that attempting to release a major AAA title on the Nintendo DS, targeted at a mature demographic, carries significantly elevated risk," contended the analyst. "With the majority of publishers currently taking a risk-adverse stance, we expect this to slow the growth rate of future mature-rated titles on the DS."

The official story: Take-Two reps said they were looking into the matter and had not officially commented as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: The world will know for sure on Thursday, when NPD releases (and GameSpot reports) the March NPD numbers. However, the market seems confident that Chinatown Wars waged a decent struggle at retail. Take-Two stock has been rising for the past week, shooting up $1.05--or 12.5 percent--today alone.

Another factor to consider is how, unlike most games, often DS and Wii titles can start off slow but increase as time goes on. "From what we can tell from the retail channel, sell-through of the game started off more slowly than expected, but picked up," Lazard Captial analyst Colin Sebastian told GameSpot.

[UPDATE] Speaking with GameSpot on Tuesday, Divinch clarified his Chinatown Wars estimate as not being negative, but rather merely cautionary. "DS games definitely have longer lead-ins," explained the analyst. "Even if it only brings in 250,000 in the first month, it will continue to sell well month after month. I expect Chinatown Wars to sell well all the way into next year, but it's only Take-Two and Grand Theft Auto that can do this. I don't think something like Saints Row, which is one of my favorite games, could pull this off. It's definitely risky, though, and that [200,000-unit range] number might scare some people."

Ultimately, though, Divinch believes that Chinatown Wars will give Take-Two a "huge profit." He continued, "since this is the highest-rated DS title to ever come out, it will be a system-seller like Halo 3 or Metal Gear Solid 4 was. I also expect it to remain on store shelves throughout the DS' entire lifecycle for years down the line."

* = 2008 saw combined PS3, 360 GTAIV sales of 5.18 million units; Wii Play (with remote) sold 5.28 million during the same period.

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223 comments
drwrir
drwrir

The psp is not the system to sell gta games on. If you haven't noticed, the psp is a flop. Yes I said it, the only people still supporting it are EA and Activision. Plus a few minor titles from Atlus. If it was dropped by those publishers, the system would be dead. In fact, it is. The team for this gta was twice the size as any used on the psp and they made the game itself larger too. I'm 25 and my wife and I both have ds systems. As do many of my friends. It's not a system only targeted at children, this is fact because of the number of units sold. By next summer they estimate it will surpass the ps2 as the all time highest selling system. So if the ds passes the ps2, does that mean only 12 year olds have ps2 systems? Certainly not. The whole it's for kids thing is only a perception of "casual gamers" when many hardcore gamers know that the system can really shine when it wants to. I can name probably 50 A-list games on the ds quicker than you can think of 10 on the psp. Mostly the problem is economic status, the fact that there were many big titles released for the ds in march, and when people saw the birds eye view angle of the game, it might have been a turn off. I actually loved the original gta games, so this I don't mind. Graphics to me are not a selling point as they are for "graphic junkies." I'd rather have a great game that looks like crap, than a great looking game that plays like crap. Graphics are just icing on the cake. I'm sure the sales on this title will pull through. I think the multiplayer in itself is worth it. Plus, I'd like to see them create another gta for the ds because I think Leeds did a great job on this game.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

Pokemon [insert any color here] will always outsell GTA because Nintendo DS is much more of a kid's handheld, in the same way Gameboy was. PSP is the system that can really sell GTA games, and is proven to do so, because of the more mature audience it has. And for those are at least 14 and don't have this game are really missing out.

heirdt
heirdt

Nintendo is the Japanese version of the Gold Fever. Those numbers by themselves do not mean that much or might not look tragic but considering Nintendo DS installed base (100 MILLION units, march 6th 2009), and how popular multimillionaire Grand Theft Auto franchise is (come on it still sells copies like pancakes as proved on PS3 and Xbox 360) numbers scream to third parties be aware. China Towns is not the only third party game doing so bad on Nintendo consoles, actually it would be easier to name blockbuster exceptions and while it's true China Towns is not the only core game on DS I'd remind you it's the first "AAA" title with "AAA" reputation (the highest score rated game in console history) that has come in years. So should Scottish Rockstar North be angy with this wee numbers?..... my answer is yes very much, indeed. It's very contradictory to see Nintendo consoles being sold like crazy when third party software is not doing so well. Business is great, but only for Nintendo, they should be worried because while it's true they are making mountains of money right now, it is highly probable third party companies will stop supporting wii and nintendo ds/dsi the same way they have done for years. I know people say Nintendo is not the system for core gamers, but I should suggest asking if the system is even attractive enough for casual games developers, I don't think casual games are doing so great on Nintendo Wii, especially considering there are hundreds of titles with low quality compilations (shovelware). Please don't hate me but I'm sure Nintendo is damaging the gaming industry just like T-virus ruined Raccoon city, it's turning developers into ZOMBIES. Heirdt Von Braun

ReaperX30
ReaperX30

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pureskull123
pureskull123

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pasteltheman
pasteltheman

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Kermyt
Kermyt

Playstation One sold millions of units anyone remember the games sales - easily copied games with modded chips etc NDS sells millions upon millions of units - again the game sales anyone. Edge, R4 as everyone has mentioned. So we the user knows about copied games etc are we expected to believe that the programmers and makers don't. Come on!! Whilst you continue to create machines that are easily copyable don't moan about your sales. PS: GTA Chinatown truly is a great game! Which should be purchased - whether or not you have a R4/Edge jobby job - to say thank you to Rockstar Leeds for making such a blindin' game.

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

to getix-01 good point well same as psp they got free downloads thats why 3000 model didnt sell at all cause no download and sa as ds on the r4 lol but i hate r4 and free game downloads cause it causes alot of viruses to the computer :D

Getix-01
Getix-01

the reason for low sales is things like the r4 chip, they brought a brilliant game onto an easily hacked console. some lonely fat guy in his mums basement surrounded by star wars poster probably released this game as a free download lol.

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

thats just sad but hey how bout april statistics might be better money is hard these days you know :)

snarple_basic
snarple_basic

It wouldn't surprise me. Once I saw images I wasn't interested. I played the 2nd game on the Ol' Dreamcast and didn't like the over the head camara gameplay. I found it too be very hard to do the missions with out getting in too much trouble with the cops. Unless its more forgiving which I have a feeling it might be, I don't ever see myself pick this up.

Homsar13
Homsar13

wow, i can't believe this has sold that low. this is probably my favorite DS game that i've ever owned.

snake289
snake289

I gotta say most DS owners must be fools(Maybe me but meh LOL)the same Pokemon games can sell millions but yet an original GTA game can't what as the world come to?

djsaskdja
djsaskdja

It probably doesn't help that Walmart doesn't sell this game, I've looked in about four different Walmarts since release and not a single one had it.

link1709
link1709

How is this considered to be unsuccessful? 200,000 to 400,000 copies may have sold in the last month. Let's take into consideration that rockstar would have spent a maximum of half a million on this project. they would make a possible profit of £3 to £5 per copy. times that by the minimum amount available so 200,000 x £3 = £600,000 that automatically puts £100,000 into the black. We still sell at least one copy a day in my store, especially when I explain it is one of the best GTA games for some time. I think that GTA is continuing to be a success and that over analysing a project as risky as this was a big mistake. I would welcome more mature titles. The Wii and DS desperately need them to increase their user base. Now where is command and conquer DS (not a remake)

mowens81
mowens81

I rented this game through Gamefly. I don't really play the Nintendo DS, but my wife has one. So, I figured I would give this game a shot. The game was pretty good. It had nice graphics for the DS anyway. The controls worked really good, although the DS hurts my hands after playing for a little while. It just isn't very ergonomic in my opinion. Even if I did play the DS a lot, I wouldn't have bought this game though. Once I beat a game like this, I don't play it anymore. It is definitely a rent in my opinion, unless you are the type of person that replays games. I did feel like it should have been a crime to play this game on a pink DS though. It just didn't seem right. I never thought I would be playing Grand Theft Auto on a pink handheld one day. Again, let me repeat the DS is not mine. It is my wife's, hence the pink color. I would recommend any mature DS owner to check out this game. This is not a game for kids just like any other GTA title. It is definitely worth your time. They did a really good job on it.

vietboi89
vietboi89

you know what will fix those bad sales, Chinatown Wars as some DLC for the console version

02sfraser
02sfraser

GTA:Chinatown Wars didnt get the support i thought it should have. i work at GAME and the game got of to a poor start despite heavy advertising from ourselves. however i have seen the game increase in sales over the past few weeks and i hope the analysts are right. the game deserves good sales

tatu2004
tatu2004

that's bad i expected that it would sold around about 600,000 copys not 200,000 well i guess people don't have the cash right now with the way how bad things are right now

paul_hubans
paul_hubans

I plan on getting this game, it's just starting to get a little tough to fork out money for games when the economy is in bad shape. Feeding myself takes priority over entertainment. Another thing is that I don't really have a lot of time for games between school and designing my own games, as I bought DQV over a month ago but haven't played it for weeks.

Sins-of-Mosin
Sins-of-Mosin

GTA is an adult series and it's on a Nintendo product, knowing past history will tell you why the sales aren't insane.

puablo
puablo

What a crock. GTA deserved better, especially with how many DSes there are around. But of course there are many possible reasons - lots of kids own DSes and shouldn't be getting this game, a lot of people don't swoop up portable games on release as ravenously as console games, and let's be honest, I doubt everybody who bought a copy of GTA4 is going to believe that the DS version is any good. Of course, they're wrong, but I'm just saying, you know people are likely thinking it.

KAISERKONG
KAISERKONG

Did they stop to consider the state of the economy? Some people just don't have the disposable income right now like they have had in the past. I think it's just bad timing and the title will sell a boatload before it's all said and done.

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

Quote: @BigD - My money is on the fact that people who want to play M rated games on a DS probably have a flashcard. End Quote; I agree, 100%

rikjuh
rikjuh

Hurray for Flashcards, right? RIGHT? Oh well, hopefully the DS is secured better then the lite, and when that sells more, perhaps more ppl wil lbuy GTA as well.

goobyman
goobyman

I'm interested in getting it... but I still haven't beaten GTA 4... bad habit of playing games to within a fraction of completion then just sort of giving up... meh.

BigD
BigD

My money is on the fact that people who want to play M rated games on a DS probably have a fashcard.

r_gam3
r_gam3

it will sell over time.

bizuit
bizuit

Maybe next time Rockstar should make a console and try marketing it to nursing homes

Richmaester6907
Richmaester6907

200,000 for a handheld that kids own isn't too bad TBH I dont even own it but how is 200,000 a scary number????

aDhAmMe13
aDhAmMe13

If true, this is not good for Rockstar at all. I expected it to be a lot more successful. It's a really good game.

Cabal23
Cabal23

It's probably been said, but the DS's target audience is not teens or adults. It is children. So to assume GTA would be a hit on DS would be silly. Now on the PSP I would be suprised.

lozvil
lozvil

I agree with NigressSutra, and also one of the reasons is our economy right now, this is not really a good time buying videogames but instead to save a little bit to buy a house and cars... LOL... but hey, I'm serious, it's not the right time to waste money, but I still buy games though... always... but I should start to save you know... heeheehee...:)

NigressSutra
NigressSutra

I have to admit I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't do well simply because of the types of games people who do own the DS/DSi actually play. However, it's really a shame because it was a great game nonetheless...some people are just missing out.

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

wmg, it's unbelievable! A GTA game on the handheld console that sells millions of copies of casual/kiddy twink/soccer mom games such as Cooking Mama, Pokemon, Mario/Zelda, Nintendogs, Brain Age isn't selling like crazy? GTFO! What's next, the conduit doesn't break a million in sales?

BigDaddy973
BigDaddy973

I love this game! I got it from gamefly and it is awesome!

tuznecote
tuznecote

Ninetendo has attracted a new audience and that audience doesnt really want to play GTA. I dont think they/ we realised that its not just the wii that has attracted the "family"/ "casual" audience.

alex_1889
alex_1889

One of the most violent, bloody and hardcore game series ever created debuted on a console primarily aimed at female children, and it didn't sell well?... NO WAI!

AnelZukic
AnelZukic

it isn't just because the game is M rated, I mean at max 50% of the sellers are asking you for the age or are even looking at the rating M. GTA CW is a great game, one of the best on DS, a sure pick for everyone. Why does Nintendo have like at the end of article said "start off slow but increase as time goes on", mostly because the one who buys game for Nintendo console doesn't plan which game to buy and doesn't have a constant source of money. Piracy is big on Nintedo's consoles and the X360, my friends who also owns a DS owns a Falshcard (which isn't that cheap, costs more then most DS games :P), I know a guy who can hack the Wii and he sells game for 1-5$ :shock: but I just have the DS and just some games for it (original of course :P). The same for X360, I know some peoples who are hacking it, who owns a hacked one and who sells piraticed games for a price not bigger then 10$, here in my country you can find piraticed game sold in a shoping center, or on the street (if you wonder which country it is, it's Bosnia-Herzegovina, south-east Europa) The PS3 isn't hacked. Why? You can't copy blu-ray discs, unlike DVD's, but if it would be possible it would be hacked in a moment, I'm sure in it. If the source is right in my country more then 300000 PS2 are sold (the country counts 4 million peoples) and I'm sure that at least 90% of them are hacked and people are buying games for 2-7$. And how much PS3 are sold? Not even 20000 units and you probably know the reason :P. But that's not the only reason. The price of PS3 here is about 700$ and the avarage monthly wage is about 800-1000$ so think twice sony if you're making an expensive console 'cause a good number of your costumers doesn't have enough money ;)

OGKNav
OGKNav

@chrisman0777 You can't hack the PS3 to play ISOs... You can only rewire it to play burned PS2 games. Which is an absolute mess. Also I bought GTA:CW. Aside from the "limited" soundtrack [thanks Nintendo...], this game is/was a great trip down memory lane.

Foxtrot561
Foxtrot561

Who in the heck would want to play this peice of crap? It's so overrated.

ItsEvolution
ItsEvolution

Most people don't want to play top-down GTA?

swisdwag
swisdwag

Not sure what Nintendo is trying to do with all these hardcore mature rated games like Madworld and Chinatown Wars. They've marketed their products to casual gaming families for too long that the transition to hardcore mature gaming won't be that easy for them to pull off. It's moves like this that hurt businesses. They don't need the hardcore gamers. There's a Wii in every elementary school, sunday school, nursery, retirement home and hospital that they don't need one in the crack houses too! :P

Trogeton
Trogeton

yeah.. really for gta you have to have both satisfying graphics and gameplay and on the ds it didn't really have either

Dixteel
Dixteel

hum....maybe they should not be too surprised because who really want to play GTA on DS?

CVM_123
CVM_123

lol the guy is bigger than the cars

pureskull123
pureskull123

Rockstar money hungry company deserves it, after doing a crappy job in gta4 for pc. They were really lazy in porting gta to the pc, Now i hope nobody buys that title, i know i wont and i was big fan of gta for pc.