GTA: Chinatown Wars jacks over 74,000 in April

DS debut of Rockstar series sees only mild drop from approximately 88,000-unit March sales; analyst predicts title should sell around 20,000-30,000 units going forward.

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Despite being thebest average score of any DS game on Metacritic, the critically hailed Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars stumbled out of the gate. In the two weeks after its March 17 debut, the game sold fewer than 88,000 units--far below analyst predictions ranging from 200,000-400,000 units. As a result, many retailers began marking the game down, a move that made its April performance in the US market critical, according to Jesse Divnich, director of analyst services at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR).

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"If it does below 40,000 units, then it's following a curve much like topline PS3 and 360 releases which quickly tapers off," Divnich said of the game. "If it does above 40,000, then it will be more like a DS game and will see steady sales for months to come. So April sales are going to be incredibly important for this game."

Now, following its release of last month's US sales numbers, the NPD Group has confirmed that Chinatown Wars sales dipped only slightly. The game sold just over 74,000 units during the month, down from just under 88,000 the previous reporting period. Based on the game's two-month performance, Divinch expects the game to sell between 20,000-30,000 units per month domestically for an extended period, emulating the flat-but-steady trend of other DS titles.

Divnich also told GameSpot that gamers shouldn't expect Chinatown Wars to remain a bargain-bin fixture. "Typically retailers try to order six to eight weeks of sales orders at a time, but the game was a new style of game for the DS. The confusion came when Take-Two and retailers applied a very similar sales expectation like a console GTA or your core AAA titles. So Take-Two and retailers kind of panicked when they got the initial figures, so that's why we saw all these initial discounts."

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