Shadows Of The Damned Tanks, Why?

Our review was pretty glowing – Shadows of the Damned is a great game but it looks like it failed to make much impact on UK game buyers, missing out on the top twenty charts completely.  In fact, it landed at position 31, hardly an impressive achievement given the fact that publisher behemoth EA was behind the game.

So what happened?

Well, it’s not the reviews – the game’s currently sitting between 77% and 79% on Metacritic (depending on format) and most of the comments from critics are hugely positive.  “Don’t miss out on this trip,” say Gamer Limit.  And, look, we even said the game provides “eight hours or so of some of the best third person shooting we’ve seen for ages.”

[videoyoutube]GamesTM said it’s “original, amusing and brilliantly playable” and Strategy Informer said that “its freshness shows just how stale a lot of the industry is and it’s what’s needed in an era of grey, modern shooters.”

Is this the problem, though?  Do people want ‘freshness’ when they’re so clearly happy with just buying the same old titles week in, week out.  Take Zumba Fitness, for example – still riding high at the top of the charts but the games bubbling just below the flab-busting workout title are obvious sequels and respected genre staples. L.A. Noire, FEAR 3, DiRT 3, another LEGO game.

Ocarina of Time, down in sixth already after charting at two last week, shows that this is an industry that’s incredibly hard to predict.  Zelda’s been one of the most advertised games for the last couple of weeks, at least from personal experience, and it’s certainly up there in the best games ever made – and yet the numbers simply don’t add up.  I’d like to think Nintendo are shifting 3DS units off the back of Ocarina, but I’m sceptical.  Is a remake of a game that’s at least 2 generations behind something that people really want?

But back to Shadows.  Is this the final wake-up call to the industry that reviews simply don’t matter outside of our own sheltered, isolated world – or at least as much as we think they do?  Does Joe Public just wander into GAME of a Saturday and turn over a few cases, making his choice based on the back of the box or the in-store merchandising when it’s not a game he’s particularly familiar with?

And was EA’s specialist press marketing too thinly spread?  We saw a few site takeovers dotted around the internet, but they weren’t consistent or particularly appealing, and didn’t really get across what the game was all about.  Was the game, with its inherit Japanese leanings and rather esoteric mechanics just too hard a sell for a publisher used to dealing with annual sports titles – we seem to remember Mirrors Edge ending up the same way when it failed to ignite too.

We applaud EA for working with Grasshopper on this one, but maybe gamers just want things simple – they want their Call of Duty, their FIFA, their sandbox GTA-a-likes and their Mario, and everything else is a case of waiting until the game hits rock bottom?  We’ve heard that some outlets weren’t even selling the game – including some branches of big name supermarkets – were initial shipments low based on a lack of confidence?

I’m guessing that, ultimately, in the world of new IPs and tried-and-tested franchises, people just aren’t willing to splash the cash on something they’re not familiar with unless those scores are 90+ and the game’s been shoved in your face for months prior.  Shadows’ poor sales showing might not be representative of the game, but it is representative of the industry.

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37 Comments

  1. I would buy this game but the later half of this year is just too incredible and will set me back around £150. I just know that I will probably have more fun with Uncharted, Skyrim, Assassins Creed and Arkham City. It’s a shame really.

    • Have to agree i think its a big year game wise with Battlefield,Resistance,Twisted Metal Ect and taking a risk on a game thats had very little promo is a risk,i have read a few great reviews and will look at getting it when price drops.

  2. I think its because 1. most people have games they are already playing and 2. absolutely no marketing at all for this title in the mainstream.

    • 3. Difficulty trophies don’t stack! Lol I’ll be buying the game just for this very reason as I wasss going to rent it – something which the chart doesn’t account for is rentals and this could’ve made it to loads of peoples’ rental lists..

      • +1! lol. I hate games that do that. That and games which don’t give you the highest difficulty straight away

  3. Unfortunately this seems to be the way the gaming industry works at the moment; Unless you release a game that either has ‘fifa’ or ‘call of duty’ in it’s title or slots into the fitness or casual genres, your game is almost destined to fail. Shame really as I’m sick to death of these games and would love to experience some new IPs. Almost tempted to buy Shadows of the Damned tonight on my way home from work just to support it

  4. Truth be told, i hadn’t even heard of the game until it was reviewed here! :/

    Sounds like something i would be interested in too, but alas, money, HDD space & time in general are all things that i am short of at the moment.

    But to address a point made in the article – I never buy a game based upon how pretty the box is anymore. I have been burned by that too many times before now, so if i am unsure about a title, i will always check a review or two. Not for the score, as that won’t tell me much, but for the content. & this is now made all the easier by mobile web browsers – I can check how a game has reviewed whilst stood in the store, which is great.

    The only thing i can think of is that people were put off because it didn’t reach the 80-90% mark, which to be frank, is ridiculous.

    • Agreed. I used to always buy games based on whether the description on the box appealed to me, but I’ve wasted so much cash using that approach that I nearly always do some thorough research before taking the plunge these days.
      I personally find giantbomb a lot of help at times thanks to their ‘quick look’ videos. With no disrespect to TSA or other review sites, reading a review about a game and actually seeing a large chunk of it in action are two very different things :)

      • I used to love a game called Kirby’s Airride. Reviews thought it sucked (around 60%), but it was a fantastic multiplayer racing game that was so much more fun and diverse than Mario Kart. Every friend I had over at the time played that because it was a blast. For me that’s a reminder that ratings aren’t everything.

  5. A lot of “A” titles has been released in the past month. I personally didn’t even know this game was out this week, and I consider myself an informed gamer. Lack of advertising, previews on the major sites..

    • An IP has to be hyped in order to be succesful. This game will sell well in Japan, though. Which I presume it’s the main market for this type of TPS..

  6. It’s very hard mid generation to release a new multiformat IP. Being exclusive gives you extra publicity. There are only 2 exclusives in that top 20. Mainly because there haven’t been many released for while. Shadows Of The Damned could have been one and charted far higher.

    If you don’t have that you need a massive developer/publisher who can attract the audience. Lines in trailers like “from the makers of gta” will certainly have helped LA Noire.

    EA’s chance with new IP has probably gone for this generation. Dead Space and Mirrors Edge came out around the right time (though after Christmas may have been better).

    Timing is very important. MCV are reporting that this summer will see only 50 games released making it a very slow summer. Had they waiting a month or two then it could have been the big release for that week rather than at the back end of a busy period which saw some big releases.

    A lot of new IP don’t sell that well but the follow ups see big increases. Dead Space and Uncharted weren’t massive sellers but there sequels sold bucket loads. To sell a new IP you need to get things right that arent just about making a good game.

  7. Shame. Surprisingly one of my games of the year so far. Went into GAME and it wasn’t even on the shelves with the new releases on, it was already chucked down the bottom somewhere.

  8. Read a review on Saturday at 6:30pm – loved the video review I saw on Gamespot and immediatly went to blockbusters (as most stores were shut) Blockbusters had boxes on the shelf for sale but when I went to purchase 1 they said i could not as they were sold out and only had 3 rental copies available – I then went to Tesco – not even on the shelves – went to Sainsburys – not on the shelves (asked if they had it in but had sold out they said NO and that it was not a priority title like Fear 3. Went to Currys and Comet that are open till 8pm all did not have it.

    My opinion is that based on the title,a nd based on what was coming out that week this was a title you ordered low on or not at all

    Such a shame as on Sunday Game had a copy and I bought it – took it home and have been playing t ever since.

    Class title and it appears only ones getting any benefit will be pre-orderes or online web shops based on stores ignorance or low orders

  9. Lack of awareness combined with a non-descript title. “Shadows of the Dawned” doesn’t tell me anything about the game, and doesn’t inspire me to find out either. Games like Ico show that good reviews alone may not be enough to generate decent sales. They may become cult hits and subsequent sequels are championed by the community, but otherwise you get games like The Saboteur… everyone I know that played the game thoroughly enjoyed it, but sales were very poor. Again, that was new IP published by EA.

    • *or Damned even :) …… bloody predictive text!

    • The Saboteur was brilliant – A lot of grinding of ‘free play’ required, but good fun all the same!

      • And one crazy Irish accent :D

      • & some of the best one-liners i have ever heard in a game.

      • *yoinked from IMDB but still a great quote*

        Dierker: Guten Abend, Herr Morini. Always a pleasure to welcome one of our Italian friends to the Fatherland. I was just speaking of my admiration for General Mussolini. A kindred spirit to our own führer. Your country is fortunate to have such a leader, ja?
        Vittore: Racing is my passion. I find little time for politics.
        Dierker: Sometimes, racing -is- politics.
        Vittore: No. There is a difference.
        Dierker: You must forgive my ignorance, Herr Morini. We Germans are a simple people. Perhaps you would enlighten us further?
        Sean: [Cuts in] One’s a hobby for rich assholes who can’t get laid without a flashy car and a silly uniform. The other is racing.

  10. a) I’ve never heard of the game until now, lack of advertising as usual unless its developed by an MS studio
    b) I’ve already wasted a lot of money and £40 for a game nowadays is too much
    c) I have over 20+ games I still need to play
    d) There’s too many releases a year

    It looks good but I’ll still wait till a price drop and assuming its by EA, I assume it’ll be better on PS3?

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