Update: Game Director Jeff Ross has explained on a live stream that his figures are not from Sony’s official internal tracking, instead figuring out numbers from internal trophy telemetry that aligned with the 5 million sales announcement in 2020 and allowed him to extrapolate from trophy data available on external sites.
In a stream Ross said (transcribed by PushSquare): “Where I got my data from, I had access to a lot of telemetry, and I could see stuff and when we were at 5 million copies – when we were announced at 5 million copies – the telemetry data was at 5.8 [million]. There are basically resells or shared discs. I was actually using an external website – I think they’re offline now – but they were using trophy data and it lined up with our internal telemetry data so for me, it’s like, ‘good enough.'”
While this does cast doubt over Ross’ original statement, one of the key takeaways is that there is a link between sales and trophy data that means you can get a rough extrapolation one way or another. When the game’s industry is often quite coy about sales figures (unless it’s a major milestone), it’s good to know that even developers are happy to perform similar napkin maths to figure things out. Ross says that he stands by his numbers.
The original story follows.
Days Gone managed to sell over 8 million copies within its first year and a half on sale, according to the game director Jeff Ross, but despite this matching Ghost of Tsushima’s new milestone, Sony’s “local studio management always made us feel like it was a big disappointment.”
Ross was tweeting in reaction to the new that Ghost of Tsushima had sold over 8 million copies, and is widely seen as a success story thanks to continued interest in the game, the PS5 upgrade and Iki Island expansion, and positive critical reaction. However, Days Gone while sold a similar figure in its first 19 months, the general response to the open world zombie game was more muted – we scored it 6/10.
Sony Bend pitched a sequel in 2019, but this was shot down by Sony and eventually led to a bit of fallout as he and fellow game director John Garvin departed at the end of 2020. It seems there’s still some bitterness about this as Ross took to Twitter.
“At the time I left Sony,” he tweeted, “Days Gone had been out for a year and a half (and a month), and sold over 8 million copies. It’s since gone on to sell more, and then a million+ on Steam. Local studio management always made us feel like it was a big disappointment.” He added that it “Definitely didn’t generate God of War numbers, but neither did Ghost… or Death Stranding,”
While the decision making at Sony not to greenlight a sequel has never really been clarified from their side of things – except that Bend is now working on a new IP – it certainly feels that Days Gone’s critical reception factored in.
In follow up tweets to commenters, Ross drew upon other games from Sony’s library in response to other tweets, mentioning that not every Sony franchise started with universal acclaim, when compared to Days Gone’s 71 Metacritic score. “I was planning on building on top of the original for a kick-ass sequel. Even the first Killzone got a 70 on metacritic, but the sequel roared back with a 91. You gotta crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.”
Further reading: Does Days Gone deserve a sequel after all?
The other suspicion is that Days Gone suffered from a protracted development cycle and a few public delays, all of which will have expanded the game’s budget – Ross previously admitted that the budget ballooned. In the here and now, Ross noted that they actually had a comparable development period to Ghost of Tsushima. “[Sucker Punch] worked on [Ghost of Tsushima] for 6-7 years, and had an open world engine, and a team who understood open world. We had to do all that from scratch, and we made the game in 6-7 years, depending on how you measure.”
While it might seem like and apples to apples comparison, there’s a lot more that Sony is able to consider. For example, not every one of those 8 million sales is going to be equal once factoring discounts. Ghost of Tsushima has held a premium price for longer, especially when accounting for the enhanced PS5 release that helped fill some gaps in the 2021 lineup after upcoming games were delayed. Priorities can also have changed in the games Sony execs want to produce, and while Days Gone was developed under Jack Tretton and Shawn Layden’s leadership, incoming boss Hermen Hulst could have wanted to push for more standout and unique feeling games.
The good news, as was revealed last year, is that Sony Bend is able to continue on. No they aren’t working on Days Gone 2, but they are pushing ahead with a new IP that can hopefully meet both sales figures and garner more critical acclaim.