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Enslaved’s poor sales: it’s all your fault

Enslaved’s poor sales: it’s all your fault

Enslaved is a good game. This is not just Play’s opinion – it’s shared by the gaming press in general. It was scored 83% by our fair hand, and currently enjoys a Metacritic rating of 79 on PS3. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, this is actually a very good score.

The game was advertised up the hoo-ha, appearing all over television, in magazines and plastered over the back of websites both covering video games and things that aren’t video games. So it was warmly received by the press and it was advertised widely enough for those not interested in games to know about it.

It had some ‘Hollywood’ names attached to it – everybody’s favourite bloke-who-was-King-Kong, Andy Serkis, was joined by the writing talent of Alex Garland, a man who wrote a book that was turned into a film you’ll know about, as well as writing a couple of films you’ll know about (minus the book thing). So there was something lacking from most games in the shape of star power, even if it wasn’t Hollywood ‘A’ list.

But sales on PS3 have barely scraped beyond the 75,000 threshold (numbers here). It’s not the lowest number we’ve seen for a game, but it is a surprisingly small number for a game so well-received, so high profile and with such star power behind it.

So I’m just wondering: why haven’t you bought it? Why have you consigned an original property to the doldrums? Why have you given the suits at the top another excuse to avoid taking chances on new, interesting and exciting games? I’m not even saying Enslaved was all of those things – I’d go more down the route that it was an interesting and good-looking title that while it didn’t bring anything new to the table, did do what it set out to do with style and heart. But the gaming public’s reticence to purchase a game whose only real risk was being an unknown name… well, what does that say for the future of games that actually take risks? It’s not looking that bright.

This may seem like rather an aggressive article, blaming gamers across the world in a wholesale fashion for the apparent failure of a new IP. That’s because that’s what it is. The gaming press did their job, Namco Bandai did their job and Ninja Theory did their job. If this doesn’t end up being a slow-burner and sell the numbers it deserves to sell, you only have yourselves to blame if we face a console future of Nothing But Military Shooters. Seeing as Enslaved is now clocking in at about £25 and below in shops across the nation, you now have the perfect chance to redeem yourselves. Get on it.

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  • SuperfluousMoniker

    I played the Enslaved demo. It sucked. Later, I played the Vanquish demo. It rocked.

    Guess which game I bought day one?

  • Bedlam

    Ian, “game journalists” like you obviously don’t know anymore what it means to be a normal gamer out there. You totally lost connection.

    You get most of the games you play delivered to your office – for free. Somehow you now believe that gamers can get as many games as they like. That’s not the case. While you play most of the new games “at work”, gamers often have to select one of several great games every month.

    It’s totally understandable that gamers look at the value they get for their 60 bucks. Furthermore: gamers usually have other jobs than testing games for a living which reduces the time they can spend on gaming. We can’t just play every remotely decent title out there.

    At the time Enslaved was released I went with Castlevania because…

    – I like a challenge
    – while Enslaved has interesting visuals, Castlevania appeals more to me
    – Castlevania offers a 20 hour single-player campaign and lots of replayability through optional trials
    – while the Enslaved demo impressed me visually, I really disliked how the game guides you on rails and doesn’t even let you fail on purpose (Castlevania is also very linear but still presents a challenge at every point). Also, the combat – again, as visually impressive as it looks – felt just lackluster and unsatisfying and the controls are way too unresponsive.

    No matter how beautiful the game is or how well presented the story is: that’s just not enough when I find so many other things lacking with the it. Enslaved is close to being little more than a nice cgi movie and that’s just not worth 60$. People will buy the game if they think the price is justified.

  • Leeroy

    I think that article shows something I observed for some time now. There’s quite a disconnection between normal gamers and game journalists. Some game journos really seem to have difficult time to comprehend that people who don’t test games for a living can’t play every game out there thats half decent. We don’t get most of the games sent to us for free, we have to decide which games we spend our money on. And most of us have jobs or studying to do while you game journos play all the new releases during their work day.

    Also, while game journos probably enjoy short games because they can finish their reviews earlier and play the next game, we normal gamers take a closer look at the value a product offers us for our money.

  • JamesJond

    What a pretentious and awful article. I’m going to buy Black Ops to spite the writer.

  • David

    It looked pump.

  • sonn

    Online retailers have really spoiled me with their sales. When I can get games like Assassin’s Creed 2 GOTY edition under €13, how can you expect me to pay full retail on any game, let alone Enslaved? I keep my games, I don’t re-sell them, so the more I pay for my games, the more I expect from them.

    I played the demo and didn’t like the loose, almost automated, climbing controls. Then I heard that the game is really short and easy and the controls don’t get any better. So it flew straight to my “get when under €15”-pile.

  • AmandaSOne

    Too short. Holds your hand. DmC effect.

  • Mitch

    Short. Linear. Simple. Simply not enough value for the £35 you have to pay; and maybe not enough for £25 even.

    Short, linear, simple are not particularly bad things when only one, maybe two of them exist in one title.

    Enslaved is nice, it is good, but for me it will be nothing more than a bargain bin purchase because it simply doesn’t offer enough.

    For the same £35 at launch you can get games like ACII & AC: Brotherhood which offer great story, great gameplay, intense, addictive atmosphere, a great soundtrack, solid graphics, freedom…there’s 30+ hours of gameplay and now the latest iteration offers multiplayer in addition to what is more than worthy of a full blow sequel.

    You say: “If this doesn’t end up being a slow-burner and sell the numbers it deserves to sell, you only have yourselves to blame if we face a console future of Nothing But Military Shooters.”

    Well Assassin’s Creed for eg. done something new; and people supported that, but I don’t think people cover the successes of new stuff, particularly when they go mainstream; they just like to moan about the failure.

  • James williams

    Excuse me? I think this article reflects the general arrogance of the media towards consumers. This doesn’t read like a valid criticism at all of the gaming community, rather it reads more like “wha wha wha, why didn’t you prove our overrated view right?”

    I really hope the writer reads this post. Let me start by saying GET OVER YOURSELF.

    It’s funny I don’t recall any kind of article written about okami, Ico or any of the other video game “masterpieces” that didn’t sell as well as expected. It quite frankly is offensive the free pass that ninja theory has been getting by the gaming press.

    Enslaved sold exactly what it deserved to sell. It is an Action game trying to be a movie absolutely ridiculous if you think about it. Even directors action movies know that have a big opening you need one thing :- action. However you do it, explosions, guns, sex appeal, you have to draw in your audience.

    In the case of video games the mechanism is gameplay. Average gameplay never deserves to sell well in any genre and in an action game is actually unforgivable. If this was an RPG, maybe it could be overlooked but this is a game that is supposed to be played by the same people who bought god of war, bayonetta and uncharted :- all games that in their own ways have tight combat, responsive controls and a fair amount of replay value. These are the mechanics that video games have been built on since the days of pong. It has to be fun and make you want to come back for more first and foremost.

    Ninja theory have gone on the record to say they feel that that is not as important as story in games, something that up until really the ps2 generation was simply window dressing for a good game. Go ask nintendo if the think the story of Mario is what caused him to sell over 150 games to date, ask square if final fantasy would of lasted 20 + games if the story was the only thing drawing people in.

    Nobody is knocking NT for trying to improve games story and narrative, we just want the underlying game to have the same level of care and attention.

    But how dare you, think that just because you liked the game, it should be a must buy for everyone else? While I see your point in the idea that innovation in gaming is dying, if you think the NT approach is the way forward is smoking some of that good stuff.

    Let me remind you that uncharted was a new IP this gen. So was infamous. So is bayonetta. All of which sold a hell lot better than enslaved. It’s not that gamers won’t support new IP’s. Hell, you can even look at the sales of You can’t even blame the recession, because in one week vanquish has managed to outsell enslaved and that is is also a new IP.
    You can’t blame the time of year either because Batman AA was a new IP that came out the same time last year.

    You can’t even blame the idea that enslaved was too different, because heavy rain, another story focused game has sold over a million copies this gen.

    All these games have one thing in common that enslaved lacks :- a dedication to gameplay and replayabilty. Even heavy rain, moreso with move support has quite a polished gameplay system,. It differs by making it’s gameplay immersive and non intrusive so it actually feels like your watching a movie.

    Enslaved is a game, that looks like a game, has been marketed as a game but is trying to be a movie. It isn’t going to work. It doesn’t matter how much it is marketed, how much praise is thrown on it by the gaming press, who have seem to forgotten that you are supposed to be a guide, not the upmost authority and how much it goes down in price. enslaved is a waste of time and money. When your game offers no reward for actually buying it over watching it being played by someone else, it deserves to fail.

    I had enslaved. I picked it up at second hand store for damn near full price and traded it back in 2 days later. While it might seem like a breath of fresh air to someone who plays 100 different games a year, many of them devirative, to someone like me, who buys may 2 games every 3 months, it’s a waste of money when there are games out there who have just as interesting a story, tight fluid combat and months of replay value in the same genre. castlevaina springs to mind as one such example.

    All in all. I personally think you are full of it. I haven’t even gone into enslaved’s technical issues, or the fact that I can have the same experience that enslaved is offering for far cheaper by going into a bookstore or cinema. You are simply wrong for thinking that because you can overlook enslaved’s flaws because you have a free copy. We should waste our hard earned cash to so the same.

    Not to mention you need a damn reality check if you think just because something is well promoted in the media that people should automatically fall in line like sheep and buy it.

  • James williams

    One more point I forgot to mention in my tl;dr post. See the one thing about trying to make games more like movies and books?

    Well written books and great movies bomb all the time. It’s not an automatic guarantor of success to be well marketed and critically acclaimed.

    Story over gameplay = rent don’t buy

  • James Gowan

    Rather than respond to some of the boneheaded comments from outraged commenters, many of whom quite clearly haven’t even played Enslaved, I’ll just post that I agree completely with this article.

    Although I will say that it wasn’t promoted particularly well going by the usual channels – my purchase of Enslaved, one of the freshest and most enjoyable games I’ve played in years against all the millions of substandard military shooters, was nothing more than a random purchase in a store. I bought Castlevania at the same time, and by God is it boring. Length is a very poor substitute for enjoyment.

  • Silent

    “pearls before swine”

  • FotherMucker

    This whole “Please, love Ninja Theory’s games” madness went too far.

    I didn’t buy it, and I am proud of it!
    I can understand that people like the story,
    but it’s a game, that means gameplay comes first…
    glitchy-ass games with serious framerate issues,
    terrible combat and NO replay value DO NOT DESERVE a high score,
    it deserves to fail. =D

  • Even if the game would have received rave reviews, scored 10/10 everywhere and playing it would have felt like snorting pure cocaine while swimming in a pool filled with expensive wine and high class prostitutes I couln’t care less.
    Who are you to decide what people spend their money on? Were you Enslaved by NT before writing this?

  • Ugh. This article is trash. Yes, a games journalist’s job is to provide to readers insight; Enslaved got fair reviews, and the company tried hard to make people aware of it. However, regardless of both of those, people didn’t bite. People were simply NOT interested. Think about this:

    Developers are paid to make a good game.

    Advertisers are paid to market a game well.

    Journalists are paid to provide their opinions and provide interesting news stories for readers.

    Readers aren’t paid to do jack squat. In fact, we’re paying the first two groups’ paychecks when we buy a game. We are losing money in order to make sure that the first two get theirs. When you start paying me to buy the games that i don’t want to own, then we can talk about it. Until then, eat me.