So the first-week sales from Bayonetta 2’s Japanese release are in, and they are creating panic around the Internet. To cut to the chase, Platinum Games’ latest action endeavor has totaled 38,828 coming in at third on the charts for the top selling games during the week of September 15. Now, most people are going to see that less-than-40-thousand figure and freak out, which is, you know, whatever – everyone’s entitled to make a fool of themselves without doing some fact-checking. So go ahead, do what you need to do, and then come back and read the rest of the article.
Done? Alright, good. So, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, really. Nor should it be a story of doom-and-gloom like IGN and various other sites would have you believe. Let’s break down the numbers to get a good look at what’s really going on here. What a lot of folks aren’t considering here are current Japanese market trends. Folks are going to immediately (and have already done so) compare Bayo 2 sales to the original’s. This, however, is about as obtuse as it comes. For starters, Bayonetta 1 was released at a time when console gaming was a lot healthier than it is now in the East. In fact, making this comparison would be like comparing movie ticket sales of a blockbuster movie from this past summer to one of the summer of 1995; of course sales are going to be bigger now for movies, because there are more ways to promote and expose them, in addition to there being more human beings on planet Earth in the year 2014. Wow, that was a tangent. I hope you’re still following me here; I promise I’m going someplace with this.
So we factor that into the equation, and put it on top of Bayonetta 2 releasing on one console (not two, like Bayo 1) — a console that already has a small install-base — in addition to Platinum Games’ history of not selling well in their native territory, and one begins to see that those numbers for what they are: numbers that could have been far worse. And actually, they HAVE been far worse for Platinum Games’ Japanese releases. The Wonderful 101 sold ~35k less in its opening week in Japan; Anarchy Reigns sold ~15k less (and it was released on two consoles – so that number is taking into account the 360 and PS3 launch), and MadWorld also sold 35k less on Wii. Vanquish only sold 20k more, and it came out on two consoles at the peak of last gen’s popularity.
Now, the point of this article isn’t to say that the opening sales figures are wonderful, because they’re not. We’re also not defending the Wii U in any way here, because I think we can pretty unanimously agree that it’s hurting. Nevertheless, this all isn’t world-ending news either. In fact, 40,000 units, given the current console situation in Japan, is pretty decent for a third-party developer on the Wii U. Could they have been better? Hell yes they could have been. But, Hyrule Warriors opened at only 20k more units sold in its first week, and that’s an established franchise that has decades on Bayonetta. Not to mention, while everyone’s calling this box-office showing “terrible”, let me point you to The Wonderful 101’s opening sales, which totaled 5,000 units. That is terrible, ladies and gentlemen; not this. So stop with the hyperbole, let those other numbers mean something as well. Oh, and did we mention that the sales numbers of Bayo 2 only account for two days? That’s right, two days. TWO.
What could be terrible news, however, is if Bayonetta 2 does similar numbers here in the West (both North America and European territories). But, we don’t suspect that’ll happen. The most obvious indicator of this is Platinum’s track record with having better sales in the West than in their home-country. The Japanese have never been as rabid for PG’s titles as Westerners; that evidence is in the sales figure for any and all to see. Thus, one can’t deny that their games just simply sell better here in the States. In fact, sales for the PS3 version of Bayonetta were twice the amount here in the States as they were in Japan, and 1.5 times larger in Europe in comparison to Japan. The Xbox 360 version racked up sales nearly 4.5 times more in North America than in Japan — 4.5, people! Of course, these aren’t direct correlatives or exact predictors of how well Bayo 2 will perform here in the States (as the audience for the first Bayo was much larger just because more people owned 360s and PS3s than Wii Us). But, this juxtaposition does show that Bayonetta is indeed desired more by Americans and Europeans than by Japanese gamers.
Perhaps the more accurate side-by-side, then, would be to look at MadWorld’s numbers. In America, the game sold roughly 430,000 copies over the span of its life (according to VGchartz, so take the accuracy of that number for what it’s worth), while in Japan it barely broke 20,000. The only game within PG’s library that makes these Bayonetta 2 figures look meager, outside of the aforementioned original Bayonetta, is Metal Gear Rising — but comparing those numbers to Bayo 2’s is even less rational considering the global frenzy of Metal Gear Solid.
TLDR? We live in a world where fanboy-ism runs rampant, and folks will look for any reason to bury a game or console if it fits their agenda. There are psychological reasons why this happens (reasons that have been documented in various studies and write-ups, one of which can be found here). SO, as you continue to read these sky-is-falling articles about Bayonetta 2’s Japanese sales, take them with a grain of salt, unless they look at the context of sales.
(All sales figures were taken from Media Create, NPD, and/or VG Chartz)