People like us talk a lot about video games. We read the news, scour forums, watch trailers, download screenshots. But a piece on Gamasutra reminds us how small a part of the market "we" are.
Using the recent release of Madworld as an example, research firm GamePlan Insights reveals that, despite IGN naming it "as the Wii game with the highest level of unique interest, and by extension purchase intent" amongst its readers, and despite overwhelmingly positive review scores, there was a reason it sold only 66,000 copies in March.
And that reason was that the kind of people who were getting really excited about MadWorld - excited enough to not just talk about it, but buy it - were a teeny, tiny fraction of the Wii's install base. The game made a lot of noise online, yes, but it made a lot of noise amongst a small group of people.
According to GamePlan Insights' own polling data - which reportedly canvasses "1,000 gamers on a weekly basis" - MadWorld wasn't the most-anticipated Wii game on the horizon. It was the 41st, behind a string of "casual, music and puzzle" games like Wii Sports Resort and Trivial Pursuit.
Which ended up pretty close to the mark. Probably because, unlike the impression we get reading up on a game in the enthusiast press, GamePlan's 1000 gamers are drawn from "hardcore gamers, casual gamers, and everyone in between", including Gamefly's rental customer database.
Of course, this isn't news. Anyone familiar with the old "great game, poor sales" argument will be familiar with this scenario. But then, just like it's helpful sometimes to gaze into the night sky and ponder the scale of the universe compared to your tiny sack of carbon and water, it's also helpful to remember findings like this every time you feel like wailing "why the fuck is Wii Fit outselling Zack & Wiki?"