Days Gone Director, Analyst Disagree Over Why Big Games Can Flop
John Garvin's comments came when discussing why Days Gone was a one-and-done game.
It doesn't appear we'll be getting a sequel to Days Gone, and some of the game's creative leadership at Sony Bend is no longer at the studio. This includes director and writer John Garvin, who appeared to put the blame for games not getting sequels--at least in part--on players not willing to pay full price at launch.
Speaking to fellow former Sony developer David Jaffe, Garvin said (via VGC) that "If you love a game, buy it at full ****ing price," and said he has heard players talk about getting games on sale or through PlayStation Plus, instead.
Jaffe asked the obvious rebuttal to this, which is how can you know you love a game you haven't played? Garvin doubled down but didn't have much of an answer. He pointed to the PS4-exclusive God of War getting more support out of the gate.
Putting so much emphasis on full-price games at launch also seems to go against the trends we've seen from Xbox Game Pass. Outriders, for example, launched on the service but didn't actually appear to have sales negatively impacted. For one reason or another, and despite Xbox Game Pass having a huge attachment rate, Xbox players still bought it.
NPD Analyst Mat Piscatella, who previously worked for both Activision and Warner Bros. in the business and sales planning departments, disagreed with putting the blame on players.
If a game didn't sell well at launch it's most likely because the game, its marketing or its price failed to incentivize consumers to purchase.— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) April 18, 2021
Blaming the consumer for a game not selling well at launch is a bit off the rails. https://t.co/1DguPbzj1x
I've been a part of the launch of hundreds of titles, and a good chunk of them failed in the market. Post mortems were all about what we didn't get right, and what we could do better next time. If someone didn't buy the game it was our fault, not theirs.— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) April 18, 2021
"If a game didn't sell well at launch it's most likely because the game, its marketing, or its price failed to incentivize consumers to purchase. Blaming the consumer for a game not selling well at launch is a bit off the rails," Piscatella said.
Garvin later posted a series of tweets clarifying his position, emphasizing that he had left Sony Bend two years earlier and was talking more about his experience with piracy on PSP.
"If you think games cost too much? More power to you. Just don't buy [a game] on sale a year later, discover you love it, then wonder why a sequel never got made," he added.
This is sometimes the case, though there are outliers. The original Nier failed to attract much attention at launch but became a cult hit, and its sequel Nier Automata sold far beyond Square Enix's expectations--so much so that an upgraded version of the first Nier is releasing this week.
Days Gone was polarizing at launch, with reviews all over the place. According to GameSpot's sister site Metacritic, they ranged from as low as 3/10 to as high as 10/10, with plenty of very low and very high scores among the 109 cataloged. It also released during a fairly busy time, with Mortal Kombat 11 arriving just a few days earlier and Rage 2 following a few weeks later.
By contrast, God of War's very lowest score on Metacritic was a 7.5/10 and it had more than 40 perfect scores. Seeing such praise for a game before it's out can certainly influence a buying decision.
Days Gone is free on PlayStation Plus right now and is also included in the PS5's PlayStation Plus Collection. The game releases for PC on May 18.
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