Potentially bad news for Remedy Entertainment, as its long-awaited horror title Alan Wake, an Xbox 360 exclusive, apparently moved only about 88,000 units in its first week of release.
88K in Week Zero is not a disaster, especially if you consider Remedy’s track record – Max Payne was also very long in the oven, and only sold heavily after the almost universally-positive reviews inundated the marketplace. However, it’s not a good number, and it likely has caused some sleepless nights among employees of the Finnish developer.
While we’ll have to wait a month or so to see whether Alan Wake develops a long tail, as it might; the fact is the game has received some pretty darn positive press (see Kotaku’s review, and 1UP’s) and it’s possible that sales will grow over time. With a couple of other high-profile releases in the same time frame (SMB Galaxy 2, Red Dead Redemption, etc.), Alan Wake may simply not have the name recognition.
I myself was displeased with the DLC model the game’s been trumpeting, and many have been ticked by publisher Microsoft’s decision to make the game a 360 exclusive. But despite these issues I’ve been impressed by the reviews and I’d hate to see Remedy fail because of poor Alan Wake sales. They’ve already said that they pretty much bet the farm on this game – unsurprising, since it’s been in development for six years and Remedy hasn’t released a game since Max Payne 2 – so an 88,177 sales figure can’t make anyone very happy.
Of course, Alan Wake has changed a lot since its original design, which had been an open world psychological thriller with a nonlinear storyline and Twin Peaks-ian mystery solving. The game’s now strictly linear and episodic, to the point of episode recaps and new-episode DLC (which, for some reason, both Microsoft and Remedy have insisted will not actually extend the storyline). Horror games are a dime a dozen; the segment has grown so complex that only the really innovative ones are drawing any attention right now, and for better or for worse, most people who haven’t played Alan Wake are equating it mentally with Alone in the Dark: that 2009 remake of a remake that failed catastrophically, its clever ideas ruined by lazy implementation. Actual reviewers seem to think that Alan Wake is way better than that, but what the reviewers think is kind of irrelevant if no one buys the game.
I would like to buy Alan Wake, but I’m quite literally buried under a mountain of games to play right now. Alan will have to wait.
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