Tomb Raider needs to sell at least 5m to be a success, says analyst

Analyst says that Square Enix's focus on single-player IP could be problematic for the long-term prospects of the publisher.

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Independent games industry analyst Billy Pidgeon, who has previously worked at Inside Network, M2 Research and IDC, has said that Square Enix's recently launched Tomb Raider reboot will need to sell at least five million copies to be successful.

Yesterday Square Enix revealed that Tomb Raider had sold 3.4 million copies since its launch at the start of the month, but this was not enough for it to meet sales expectations.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International, Pidgeon added that Square Enix's focus on single-player IP is becoming problematic for the publisher. "The AAA market is extremely competitive," he said. "Most of Square Enix's franchises are single player games, which are less popular than multiplayer. Square Enix has been a leader in that sector, but now faces stronger competition from multiple publishers, both large and small, including Bethesda, Capcom, Xseed, Atlus and Level 5.

"Square Enix's franchises are well established and require ever-higher production budgets to match and surpass past performance. The latest Hitman and Tomb Raider sold in the three million unit range and got Metacritic ratings above 8. Those numbers would rate as successful for JRPGs that earn more from vendors as exclusives and have manageable budgets."

"But for games with development budgets approaching $100 million to be truly profitable, ratings have to be above 8.5 and sales need to be in the five to ten million unit range."

Tomb Raider was awarded an 8.5 in its GameSpot review.

Pidgeon also said that the next year will be "very tough" for Square Enix, but that the departure of outgoing president Yoichi Wada will be positive for the company.

Discussion

559 comments
gbernalesp
gbernalesp

I think that saying that Tomb Raider is a failure implies that Square Enix have done very little analysis in this issue., because:

1) They haven't considered online downloads, which nowadays is an essencial sales channel, 
2) It has only been a month since the game release
3) All the costs associated to game development, characters, technology, movements, etc, can be considered as an investment for the continuity for the franchise, therefore the future Tomb Raider games would have a considerably lower cost of production making them very easy to be profitable. They could release one title per year like Assassin's Creed, making the subsecuent games very profitable.

Considering all this I think the only explanation for Square Enix declaration is that they needed an excuse to change the CEO, and they blame it on an excellent game who already has sold millions of copies. I hope this doesn't stop the production of future Tomb Raider games.

suprsolider
suprsolider

I bought the game at full price last month. I haven't played it yet since I have been busy working and girlfriend issues have kept me from gaming much.

When I do have time to game I am trying to finish Sly Cooper 4, on the last area of the game.

fiendling
fiendling

There is a fairly serious omission in this article. Tomb Raider sold 3.4 million PHYSICAL copies, digital purchases are not taken into account in the sales stats at all. 

For example: Six of my friends and I all bought Tomb Raider on Steam. That is 7 people out of my known gamer sample group of about a dozen people that purchased digital copies. Caveat: I am talking about PC gamers here.

urtin3
urtin3

Wait...

"Most of Square Enix's franchises are single player games, which are less popular than multiplayer. Square Enix has been a leader in that sector, but now faces stronger competition from multiple publishers, both large and small, including Bethesda, Capcom, Xseed, Atlus and Level 5."

Are you kidding me?

RaidersNTime
RaidersNTime

It is beyond me where the hell SquareEnix was thinking it was going to generate COD numbers here. Yet selling over 3.5 million copies in less then a month is a huge accomplishment in it's own right and nothing to sneeze at. What this seems to me to be is that Square was expecting to offset it's losses from Final Fantasy Online which of coarse was a massive failure. Yet it also highlights just how out of touch Square is with western markets these days. I don't see how Tomb Raider is anything but a huge success. It has already in it's short history outsold all of it's previous ventures outside the original. It has received almost universal acclaim and is among this year candidates for game of the year. What a slap in the fact to Crystal Dramatics which clearly has created among this year best titles. Yet you would never know that talking to SquareEnix. I really don't understand the Japanese as they seem to never be satisfied with anything. 


Well at least when it comes to foreign properties as clearly Tomb Raider has eaten Final Fantasy's lunch, in North America at least. Both FFXIII sold 2.28 million in North America and even less for X-2 with 1.92 million units. FFX was 2.9 million copies and FF7 was 3.01 million. So how is this a failure when it has outperformed every FF game to date in North America? Not to mention done it in half the time which doesn't even count digital sales lol.That might not be sitting to well with them but then again no reason to discrete it do to their own domestic failures. These numbers are  great by anyone's standards and clearly shows how disconnected the Japanese gaming industry is from the rest of the world. SquareEnix has clearly lost it's marbles this time around. Some other publisher should pick up Tomb Raider which can appreciate what the series has done and not an ungrateful one like SquareEnix. 

SipahSalar
SipahSalar

This analyst is an idiot and wants to ruin the video game industry by stuffing every game with multiplayer, isnt that the gaming industry's biggest problem right now anyways? That developers compromising single player experience just to add a horrible multiplayer for sake of it.

Badges
Badges

QTE games will always be passed over by me. I hate this beautiful game with a passion.

BigtoungE01
BigtoungE01

Although single player mode is the core of Tomb Raider,but this new TR does have multiplayer mode,just like Uncharted,however,SP mode is still far more fun than just shooting each other for scores . If Uncharted  franchise can be successful, I see no reason why this more superior new TR cannot .

senjutsu
senjutsu

This guy is lost... Single player games are way more popular in general. And the multiplayer games have a lot more competition than single player ones, since they are less numerous. As an exemple, online FPS have a really hard time competing against call of duty and modern warfare, while Tomb Raider can easily coexist with Assassin's Creed or even Uncharted. Also, 3.5 million units sold at full price (60$) means more than 200 million dollars. So even if the game would cost 100M$ to make, they would have PLENTY of profits.

This game makes no sense at all... What a waster of my time.

KelsieKatt
KelsieKatt

"Most of Square Enix's franchises are single player games, which are less popular than multiplayer."

Lies. There is no evidence to support this claim. Even if you look at popular multiplayer franchises like Call of Duty, the majority of people who buy them still play the single player and never log onto the servers. Although, I can't imagine why... the campaigns are incredibly meh.

SteveTabernacle
SteveTabernacle

They spent nearly 100 million to make a generic third person shooter?  Wow, they deserve to fail.

ernelson1976
ernelson1976

The idea that games need multiplayer is ridiculous. Single player games sell well enough to make money so long as development costs are kept reasonable. Square Enix seems to have bet a little too heavily on Tomb Raider. I loved the game, but there's nothing about it that suggests to me that it should need to sell five million copies. If it's true, Square Enix took an unjustified risk. I doubt this analysis is correct, though. Tomb Raider might not meet sales expectations, but the positive buzz about the game and it's reasonably strong sales should easily justify another game in the IP.

1valiantknight
1valiantknight

I hate that for a game to be, truly successful, it has to have multiplayer. UGH! Hopefully Bioshock Infinite will do well and show that not every game has to have multiplayer. Also the fact that a metacritic score is actually taken into account makes me want to vomit. I have never paid attention and never liked number ratings for games. I remember back when I first heard the name metacritic, I threw up in my mouth a little. A number rating from a stupid web site should have absolutely no affect on how much money a developer gets. It should be all about the sales of the game. Yet people still don't get bonuses because the shmetacritic score was bellow a 8.5. What a load of crap.  

blackhrt
blackhrt

Can I work for Square? I'm pretty good at telling executives what they want to here too. However, I'm currently telling execs the realities of their ventures.

stev69
stev69

It may not meet sales expectations but im pretty sure they are into the profit margin considering how expensive games are these days, maybe they should be more realistic with their investment into development. And its probably about time the tech involved started to be made available at more reasonable prices, the cost of making pre-rendered trailers and cut scenes is stupidly high.

razama
razama

Let me sum up all these comments:

-It is crazy that a game can not be profitable despite selling 3.5. This is the case though because TR was a game with high development cost.

-It might still reach 5mil... or it might not. Most games make all their sales soon after releasing... but a few might hang around and make decent sales numbers.

-Some people didn't like the reboot. Most loved it.

- Square is dumb for betting on such high sales numbers...!... but then again remember companies like Square are smarter than you - they know how to calculate sales and account for price fluctuations and what to set their sale goals at.

-The game is great, but a lot of people probably see it on the store shelf  and think "Ew, Tomb Raider... haven't those games been horrible for the last decade?"

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

Maybe if they would of added some raptors and a T Rex this game would of sold more.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

The old Tomb Raider had a huge variety of enemies, this new one only has 3. Though the original Tomb Raider games had horrid controlls, i still prefer the first 3 Tomb Raider games. I do like how the new Tomb Raider is finally rated M with more mature themes and better combat, but why did they not include any dinosaurs, or cool monster/mutant creatures? The classic Tomb Raider games were so awesome because of the anticipation of finding a new shock around every corner(T REX). The only interesting enemy in this new Tomb Raider is the undead samurais. The old Tomb Raider games had undead enemies and so much more. It's a crime how much they left out of this game. The Tomb Raider reboot needs a giant croc, bears, Allosaurus, trex, Raptors, Big foot, and other cool enemies.

plm3d_basic
plm3d_basic

The game has only been out for a couple of months.  By the time it's Christmas I guarantee the game will sell at least 5 million and these idiots don't even count for digital distribution. In North America, the only way to get Tomb Raider on the pc is through digital distribution such as steam.  There are no retail boxes in stores or online.

GoranZipy
GoranZipy

You made a great game, It sold pretty well. 

What the hell were you expecting the whole world to buy it at full price.

Daian
Daian

This guy needs to get his head out of his own arse and stop spreading the idea that all games need multiplayer, it's idiots like this why we keep getting tacked on multiplayer in single player franchises.

slainta
slainta

See? See? I told them not to reduce Lara's boobs! People wanna play the original Lara, the like of Angelina Jolie, even with a bigger breast (but slightly thinner lips), not the cute girl next door. Lara's boobs were a Cult, a matter of personal distinction that helped defining our most loveable heroine! 

Tomb Raider Reboob. And that's what you get...

cubachino
cubachino

Wow not profitable? 3.4 mil. units x $60 = $204,000,000 - $100 mil. budget = $104 mil. in profit so far in just three weeks. I guess next generation games aren't going to look much better since most developers aren't going to want to increase their budgets 

dtimm612
dtimm612

 "...single player games, which are less popular than multiplayer."  Is that true?  Maybe they meant to say single player only games with no mp... not mp only games. Skyrim seemed to be a hit without mp.

telaros
telaros

Atlus, Bethesda, Capcom, Xseed, and Level 5.

Atlus <-- The Square that Square wishes it could be again. If ever there was a publisher that cared about what its fans want, strives hard to deliver the best gaming experience, and doesn't afraid of anything, it is ATLUS! These guys need only bring a couple of their epics to PC and PSN and Arcade as well as go multi platform with no console bias and these guys would erase Square off the map for good. This is a company that isn't afraid to follow 'niches' in gaming.

Bethesda <-- Delivering an expansive and freedom to explore and be what you want to be. To actually BE in control of your hero that you made, named, and built up specifically to how you want to PLAY it. They don't want to take control of the action away from you. They don't believe in quick time events if it doesn't actually add to the gameplay. They put more effort into putting things in the game that is a part of the enviroment and monsters that dwell in it, even outside of a cutscene, because it was made for them and not just a single scene. Square wishes they had a quarter of the talent at making such great worlds.

Capcom... It's Capcom, what can I say? Not freaking Shakespeare but, these people have released more original content and have shown enough care (despite some hiccups) to the fans that it is just a company worth supporting! All we need honestly is a new Breath of Fire or original RPG and Square would cry more rivers. Just don't expect much from the Devil May Waawaah~ series anymore.

XSeed <-- These guys are freaking geniuses. The Y's series has become one of my all time favorites and are responsible for MANY amazing small free to play mmo and mmo'ish games among many other genres. These people know how to tell a fun and excited story with great action packed variety in gameplay! Square games never been this much fun since snes days! SUPPORT THESE GUYS!


Level 5 <-- Dark Cloud series, better known today for White Knight Chronicles 1 and 2. Makers of Professor Layton series for Nintendo DS. Among others. These guys are known to NOT take the 'safe' route. Everything they make is a risk, but a risk they see worth pursueing because of how closely involved they are with each game they produce. They want to not just sell us games, they want to share the fun and excitement they see in those games with us!


In short, Square is fearful because they can't make money off a name alone anymore. They also set unrealistic goals and toss out money left and right to the wrong people. They need to branch out. It isn't that single player is ruining them. It is that they have failed to execute anything worth dishing out 60 dollars worth of single player activities that will end in under eight hours...

Tomb Raider is a great example of doing single player right. For Square. Improve on its faults, work on improving and not just reusing the stuff that worked. Apply those to other games. Final Fantasy also needs to stop being called Final Fantasy. You can't ride a single name for the rest of your existence. It's sad.

Here is hoping to bigger and better yet don't have to wait 2-3 years for, games for next gen by Square.

DrKill09
DrKill09

Not gonna happen.

No more crap reboots, please.  It's bad enough what they did to Deavil May Cry.

Tomb Raider Legend was a reboot done right.  This new game looks awful. 

UltraredM
UltraredM

@katanakillbill Lol, you're not the sharpest tool in the shed are you? In what childish world do you think Square Enix will be sent every dollar of your $60 purchase? It's probably closer to $15. 

Let's assume Tomb Raider's budget was about $100 million for development, advertisement, and overhead. $15 times 3.4 million is 51 million. That's a 49 million deficit.

mick_holland
mick_holland

@katanakillbill taking into account that they dont actually get $60 from your purchase. much like musicians dont get the full money from cd purchases and downloads. Your probably talking more in the $20 ish range they would get so they will not be making anywhere near as much unless they sell a good couple million more.


ogremalfeitor
ogremalfeitor

@SteveTabernacle You clearly didn't play this game. Believe me, you'd be surprised, it has nothing to do with the shallowness that unfortunately had come to be associated with this franchise in later years. This one has story, and this Lara Croft feels like a human being.


(Edit: one more thing - although I agree 100 million is too much, either for a game whatever it is, or a movie for that matter... but the game is very surprisingly good indeed)

senjutsu
senjutsu

@ernelson1976 Easy exemple: Grand Theft Auto games are mainly single player (very few people actually play a lot of multiplayer games, as it's only a kind of bonus). And they sell more copies of this game than any multiplayer games ever, lol.

radprofile
radprofile

@razama I was one of those "Ew, Ew, Tomb Raider... haven't those games been horrible for the last decade?", I hated the old ones, but I gave this game a chance, and now I think is one of the best games I ever played.

fullxtent
fullxtent

@Dredcrumb9 

Agreed, all games need some t-rex. I would forgive Activision if the next COD had T-Rexs...

Mufuggin' T-Rexs

razama
razama

@Daian He is saying that according to sale numbers, games with multiplayer are more popular. Tomb Raider is a game that focuses on Single player and because almost every Square Enix game focuses on single player they are going to have tough time finicially. It isn't his opinion on what games need - it is just what the numbers show. The fact that this edition of TR had high development cost didn't help, so it needs to sell 5 million if Square wants to keep making the series at a profit.

That is all he said.

vsnake48
vsnake48

@slainta It's true! It's true! I wanted to seem gentlemanly but i can hide it no longer!

*breaks down sobbing*

longestsprout
longestsprout

@dtimm612  Yeah, Skyrim was a hit. But can you name many other SP games that sell that well? It's not exactly common.

razama
razama

@telaros Square has always been a company that relied on bringing the biggest and most dazzling product to the show. They are like the exotic sports car company of the video game world. The problem is just that they can't meet their own lofty reputation and goals anymore.

Euphoriumz
Euphoriumz

@DrKill09 You're comparing legends to this? Yea clearly not even touched the game.

Scarab83
Scarab83

@DrKill09 Pretty sure you haven't touched it, or even looked at much footage of it. The new Tomb Raider is awsome.

Cypress131
Cypress131

@DrKill09 

"looks awful".

Have you played it? It's actually the best reboot I've seen in a very long time.

cubachino
cubachino

@Euphoriumz Of course not. So lets break down some more. 204 mil in total sales minus production cost 100 mil.. They are left with 104 mil. so far.

I know nothing about how this works but lets just say:

10% goes to Sony

10% to Microsoft

20% to Publisher

30% to Stores

30% to developers

30% of 104 mil. is 31.2 mil. seems like good money to me. But what do I know?

slainta
slainta

@longestsprout @dtimm612 Well, on PS3 only I can name Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, MGS4, FF XIII, Elder Scrolls, Fallout. Tomb Raider deserved a space between them. 

cubachino
cubachino

@roja_85  @razama @Euphoriumz I think you have to redo your math. When I worked at a car dealership I would get 20% commission and that was very generous. But the 20% would not come from the total sales only from the profit made. So if car cost 5k and sold for 7k I would only get 20% on 2k. Doesn't that make more sense? Why would I get 20% on the initial 5k that I had nothing to do with?

cubachino
cubachino

@schesak Like I said b4 I know nothing about this I only spectulate. But I'm willing to bet that's included in the development cost. For instance when I sell anything on Ebay I pre-calculate my shipping cost and the fees that Ebay will be charging me for using their site. Kind of like marketing my item on their site. It's all calculated before hand so that I make sure I am profitable. 

razama
razama

@cubachino @Euphoriumz Even using that break down, your math is wrong. First you would do:

204 - 142.8 <= (70% of sales)

61.2 - 100 mil (development cost)

-$38.8 mil profit. So you are in the red.

roja_85
roja_85

@cubachino @Euphoriumz  by your logic it's 30% of 204 mil, which is about 60 mil. When the game cost 100 mil thats leaving you 40 mil in the red...

slainta
slainta

@razama @slainta @longestsprout @dtimm612 Hmmm… I never thought in those terms. You're right. And one would need an online pass as well, so the game can't even be borrowed. 

Still TR sales have been quite low compared to other SP games. It is a bit of a shame, actually. Not that I can say anything. I'm broke so I couldn't buy my copy either..

razama
razama

@slainta @longestsprout @dtimm612 If you line up every single player game against a multiplayer game, the multiplayer games would have sold a much much larger amount.

When you buy a multiplayer game, you and your friends need your own copies. With a single player game, you or your friend just borrow a copy or just pick it up when the price goes down unless you really wanted that game. Multiplayer games get picked up on release day because by the time the price goes down, your friends aren't playing it anymore.