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The Hidden Sales Success Of Xbox Live Arcade

Downloadable games aren’t included in the official Aussie Charts as tracked by sales data experts GfK. But what if they were? You might be surprised.

At a recent Xbox media event, we asked Microsoft how well the recent Winter of Arcade releases had performed in Australia. We had just heard that Shadow Complex, the most celebrated of the recent XBLA batch, had reached 200,000 downloads worldwide in its first two weeks. But we really wanted to know how these things are selling locally.

We weren’t surprised to hear Microsoft say that all five Winter of Arcade games had sold well. But we were very surprised to hear that all five would have placed in the top 10 across all formats during their respective launch weeks. Not just in the Xbox 360 chart, but across all formats.

That’s pretty impressive.

Even more impressive is that other recent XBLA games – Worms 2 and Battlefield 1943 – would have made it all the way to number one on the all formats chart during their launch weeks. Again, that’s all formats. Yes, that means they sold more that week than even Wii Fit.

Now, to clarify, we’re talking unit sales here: we’re simply taking the number of units Microsoft know they sold of each of those titles during launch week and then compared it to the units sold at retail that week according to GfK.

Further, the GfK all formats chart only includes “full price” games, ie. those with an RRP greater than $50. Clearly, when XBLA games cost $15 – $20 we’re not exactly comparing like for like. But still, it’s interesting data and provides an insight into the relative performance of retail vs digital that our current chart tracking methods don’t acknowledge.

I’m curious to know about your purchasing patterns. Do you find yourself turning more and more to services like XBLA, PSN or WiiWare? How has your ratio of disc-to-digital purchases changed this year?


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