Reports have emerged that The Callisto Protocol significantly underperformed the sales expectations of publisher Krafton, with the company having to lower their target stock price in response.
Per MK-Odyssey, the game cost 200 billion won – $162 million or £132 million – to develop, and sales thus far mean that investment has not been recouped during the launch window (a time when games make the majority of their revenue as sales are at or close to full price).
Kraton had expected The Callisto Protocol to sell around five million copies, but has now lowered this expectation to just 2 million sales through the rest of 2023.
This shouldn’t really have been all that surprising, especially when considering the genre and where The Callisto Protocol has come from. In the current market, the horror game benchmark is the Resident Evil series, which over the past five years has seen Resident Evil 7 start with 3.5 million sales in the first three months (short of Capcom’s 4 million target) and Resident Evil Village sell around 6 million copies sold during its first 6 months. Resident Evil 2 was the biggest success of the bunch, quickly passing 4 million sales in the first month and taking three years to reach 10 million copies.
By comparison, Dead Space’s original run at EA consistently underperformed expectations. The first game started slowly and took three months to sell 1 million copies. Dead Space 2 improved to 4 million sales in its lifetime, but was still considered a commercial failure, and Dead Space 3 underperformed to the point that the EA gave up on the series for the time.
Developed by Striking Distance Studios, founded by former Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield, the build up for The Callisto Protocol leant heavily on the expectation that it could be a spiritual successor to Dead Space. But it’s not Dead Space, it’s a brand new IP, and Krafton clearly misjudged the broader appeal of the genre, expecting it to be able to immediately stack up against the biggest horror franchise in sales.
Further reading: Is The Callisto Protocol better than Dead Space?
Of course, there are some other factors to consider. For one, EA is producing a Dead Space remake of their own – here’s hoping they have realistic sales expectations, eh? – and its launch date was set for just a couple months after that of The Callisto Protocol. Then there’s the somewhat awkward early December launch timing, the review embargo being set for the day of launch (a bit of a red flag to core gamers these days), and then facing middling reviews and early impressions that suffered from bugs and performance issues, in particular on PC and Xbox Series X.
All that said, we hope that The Callisto Protocol gets a second shot. There’s some interesting ideas bouncing around within the game, such as the shift toward melee combat, and it’s a fantastic technical showcase for the current gen consoles and modern horror games in general.
Source: MK Odyssey