A few days ago, it was revealed that Tomb Raider sold 3.4 million copies, which to the lay man seems like a pretty impressive game release. However, Square-Enix said that the game failed to meet expectations. Not only that, but the company was in financial trouble because of it. This begs the question, how well does Tomb Raider actually have to sell to be considered a success?
Videogame analyst Billy Pidgeon told GamesIndustry that Tomb Raider will have to break five million copies sold in order to be considered successful. “Square Enix's franchises are well established and require ever-higher production budgets to match and surpass past performance,” Pidgeon said. “The latest Hitman and Tomb Raider sold in the three million unit range and got Metacritic ratings above 8. Those numbers would rate as successful for JRPGs that earn more from vendors as exclusives and have manageable budgets. But for games with development budgets approaching $100 million to be truly profitable, ratings have to be above 8.5 and sales need to be in the five to ten million unit range.”
And here we see the big problem with how the gaming industry has evolved. The cost of game development has grown so big, its crushing any developer who can’t consistently make AAA blockbuster hits. Unfortunately, the gaming fanbase simply does not have enough money or time to make every huge funded title a success, which means big name studios are slowly going to start to fail if they aren’t in front of the pack. Unfortunately, this means we are going to see a lot more THQ stories in the future. It also means that, despite favorable reviews, millions of sales, and general acclaim from the entire gaming populace, Tomb Raider still has to be considered a failure.