Brutal Legend And DJ Hero Fail To Crack Top Ten In Sales


Posted November 13, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

DJ Hero

I hate to be a bringer of bad news, but I'm going to bring you some anyway: Neither DJ Hero nor Brutal Legend even cracked the top ten in terms of software sales in October, although DJ  Hero came out late in the month, and Brutal Legend came out on the 13th.

In October, Brutal Legend sold about 216,000 units while DJ Hero wracked up about 123,000 in sales, according to figures released by industry analysts at the NPD group. The hipster DJs and metal heads who make up each games' cast were beaten out by Kingdom Hearts for the DS, Wii Sports Resort and sleeper hit Borderlands in terms of sales on individual consoles.

DJ Hero's NPD numbers represent only a week's worth of sales, but I'm going to make some predictions about the future sales of this game. I don't think it's going to do that well. That game had "low sales" written on it at the concept level for a couple reasons. First: Not many people like or care about the kind of music it features (IE "mash-ups). Secondly, and more importantly: DJ Hero is a game where you pretend to be a guy who is playing records. Think about that for a second. You're not pretending to be a person who is doing something exciting--you're not playing fake music or putting out a fake fire--you're pretending to be a person who is playing a recording made by another person. It's as if Activision decided to capitalize on the popularity of Guitar Hero by putting out Guitar Hero Hero, where you use a hand-shaped controller to control the fingers of an on-screen avatar who is playing Guitar Hero. Also: You can buy an actual turntable for around the same price of a DJ Hero game, and actually play records, right out of the box. I don't foresee big sales for the game, but, hey, maybe November's NPD numbers will prove me wrong... do I look like a psychic to you?

Brutal Legend's lackluster sales are a little harder to understand, but, whether you love or loathe it, Legend was a tough game to market. While diehard gamers didn't need much more to buy the game than the fact that is was made by Psychonauts creator Tim Schafer, outside of that tiny wedge of the population, that Schafer was behind the game means nothing. I'm going to estimate that less than three percent of the general population of the country recognize Schafer's name. So why feature "Schafer!" so prominently in the marketing and cover art?

It's obvious that there was a lot of money spent on marketing this game; A lot of people were made aware that there was a game coming out called Brutal Legend. The problem: Pre-launch, there was no further information.

A reasonable person might have asked: "What kind of game is this Brutal Legend?" and the answer was something like, "Well, it's about heavy metal and it has Jack Black in it and it has action and cool music and a setting influenced by 1980s record covers." There was no real knowledge of what the game was like because no one wanted to say that it's basically a real-time strategy game with some action elements. Trumpeting BL as a real-time strategy game would probably not have increased sales or anything -- not many people like those kinds of games -- but at least it would have been honest.

Plus, there's the whole "HEAVY METAL!" aggro-ness to the game. That just doesn't appeal to me. Like most people, I wasn't a metal head in high school; I didn't hang out with the metal heads or admire them in any way, so why would I want to play a game about them?

It's a shame that these two original titles disappointed in sales, because it feeds into the conventional wisdom that says gamers want sequels and reject originality. Maybe that's true, but it's a depressing thought. Luckily, the out-of-nowhere success of Borderlands counters this.

Anyway: Here are the raw sales numbers...

Brutal Legend (360) - 150,000 units
Brutal Legend (PS3) - 66,000 units
DJ Hero (360) - 62,000 units
DJ Hero (PS3) - 39,000 units
DJ Hero (Wii) - 19,000 units
DJ Hero (PS2) - 3,300 units

...Feel free to parse them in our comment section.

Brutal Legend And DJ Hero Fail To Crack Top Ten In Sales


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