It wasn’t until Sony released a Top 5 for March earlier this month that I really questioned the sales of PlayStation Mobile games. Sure we had seen some sales figures before, and they weren’t pretty, but those might have just been outliers. No one was really sure. Over the past couple weeks I have been collecting sales data from a few PSM devs and while I can’t paint a full picture, the overall sales are pretty much in line with what was released previously.
So I figure we might as well start with that list which was released. The Top 5 sellers for March on PlayStation Mobile were (in order):
We have hard numbers for Castle Invasion thanks to the developer. The game sold ~800 units in the US during the month of March and ~250 in February. All the other developers declined to give us March figures (or did not have them yet which is another issue entirely), but Life of Pixel developer Super Icon did let us know that the game sold just over 950 units worldwide in February. He also went on to say that just under half were US sales.
One big thing to mention is that all but Castle Invasion are managed PlayStation Mobile titles. Meaning, these titles are not being released via the “Community Developer Portal”, but were with some help from Sony. Most notably that help means coverage on both the PlayStation Blogs. If you take a look at the other games released during month of March, not a single one of them made it to the Top 5.
March PSM releases:
So how well does a game sell during its first week with little to no coverage on the internet? As of April 2nd Snake sold 150 units. Worldwide. I can only imagine what higher priced titles do, even with coverage on the Blog. While ratings by no means are an indicator of sales, let’s look at Snake vs. Forevolution. Snake was released to no fanfare on March 26th and currently sits at 12 ratings on the PSM Store. Meanwhile Forevolution was mentioned on the PlayStation Blogcast, gets a post about the game on the PS Blog, and on release day has numerous people from Sony tweeting about the release. The game sits at 7 ratings as of publish time. How bad must the sales be?
If there is one person who knows about releasing games on PlayStation Mobile it is Thomas Hopper. Currently he has the most published on the service with 6, and another one in the works right now. We have covered a lot of them here on the site and while most lack a little polish they are mostly worth checking out. Sadly it doesn’t seem like many users are however. He asked me not to share specifics on each game but I can say that none came close to Castle Invasion’s March numbers in the US. As a quick point of reference his cumulative release catalog’s sales worldwide is a little less than double Castle Invasion’s sales in the US so far. But what can he do to improve this?
Currently there is no way for Developer Portal members to obtain product vouchers for their games. As some might know, the majority of game websites usually are given vouchers for digitally released content. Seeing how small PlayStation Mobile is relative to other platforms, writers don’t seem to be buying copies of games to check out if we are judging this by current coverage overall. When games do see coverage it is when they are promoted by PlayStation on the PlayStation Blog.
I think Sony needs to really do something about this. Frankly I think it is a joke that 6 months after the service has launched there still is no weekly post letting people know what has released on PSM. But Chris, there is a page for it on the US PlayStation website. Well… it hasn’t been updated since launch, it is buried on the nav, and there is almost zero info other than game names.
Since the launch of PSM there have also been some changes to the PlayStation Store. There is a great web site you can use to purchase games and developers can link to their products so users can buy them. Oh I forgot, PlayStation Mobile isn’t included there. Want to search for a PSM game on Vita? Oh you can’t do that either because, 1) there is no search on the PlayStation Mobile tab and 2) PSM games do not show up on search results on the Vita store.
From looking at all these numbers I did notice a few things. For one here is a breakdown of how sales usually pan out. US is the biggest market, then it is Japan and UK followed closely behind by Canada. Note: To release on the Canadian store you will need both French and English store text, Japan obviously needs Japanese. Then a little bit behind Canadian sales are France and Germany. Lastly Australia, Spain, and Italy roughly do about the same. So if you are going to release a PSM game, make sure you have French and Japanese store text translations even if your game is fully in English.
One other thing I noticed was that talking about your game will help. Haunt The House was released back in January and sold about 1000 units during that month. In February sales dropped off to about 50%. But in March sales actually went up slightly. What caused this? Well Tom from SFB Games, developers on the title, offered up a possible explanation, “it could be down to the giveaway I ran on Reddit, which got quite a bit of attention on the /r/vita subreddit, with plenty of folks saying that they were going to buy/have bought the game.” But keep in mind, Haunt the House was a managed PSM game so he had product vouchers to distribute. Which as I mentioned before is something that your average developer release does not have access to.
Hopefully with the addition of more PlayStation Network features to the platform like leaderboards (which were announced at GDC), sales will pick up. I know from talking to a lot of developers this is something they want badly. Things like Unity support also could make PlayStation Mobile a go to place for Indies. But time will tell if sales will pick up. I for one hope they do.
[Banner image source: PlayStation Mobile]