Home is where the cash is

Despite middling review scores and criticisms for having a short single player mode, THQ’s Homefront has been very successful shipping 2.4 million units which equates to 1 million sold to the consumer since its release two weeks ago. To put that in perspective, some games don’t even sell or ship point four of a million within years so Homefront‘s sales are indeed something to shout about.

And shout THQ have because it was the mediocre Metacritic score which left the publisher a fifth less valuable after its stocks fell 20% when the game first shipped. Contrasting that, Homefront actually sold 375,000 copies in the US on day one, the same time as shareholders were receiving the bad news about their stock. But it’s apparent how the mainstream gamer, to whom the shooter clearly appeals to, cares little about an aggregate score with the rampant marketing for Homefront clearly paying off.

When a game that started off having reviews which praised its gameplay then was hit with a wall of critics displeased at the performance but crediting the multiplayer, all kinds of theories involving dirty dealing begin to surface. But I’m not going there, that just leads into a depressing cul-de-sac and instead am interested in how it managed to sell a further 600+ thousand units after the consensus claims the game is good but not great and how such an achievement is a slap in the face to Strauss Zelnick of Take-Two. He said: “Making good games just isn’t good enough. I believe good is the new bad. … Games need to be great,” adding the importance of sites like Metacritic who have the power to effect game sales.

Homefront didn’t fall into the ‘great’ catagory nor does it have a high Metacritic ranking but still managed to reign in the cash for THQ and crash multiplayer servers which couldn’t cope with the hordes of gamers eager to play online. Maybe these gamers haven’t even touched the single player component, the part that lowers the game’s overall score, instead diving straight into the online squirmishes. If so, then Homefront is deserving of much higher praise. Or maybe it’s the aforementioned marketing that has been its saving grace seeing as you can’t watch TV without one of the high-octane adverts playing out before you. EEDAR analyst Jess Divnich told IGN how reviews aren’t the be all and end all of a game: “Review scores are simply a weight, not an absolute. The impact of review scores on video game title sales are determined by the potential size of the market, direct and retail promotional spend, competition at launch, overall level of interest in the title before release and more. This helps to explain why titles such as Demon’s Souls can achieve 90+ reviews, but produce lower revenues, and why a game such as Medal of Honor from Electronic Arts can get an aggregated review score in the 70’s and surpass nearly 5 million units in sales worldwide.”

Whatever the case, Homefont is selling well and a sequel is highly probable giving the opportunity to address the first game’s issues, potentially becoming a real contender to the might of Call of Duty.


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