Square Enix reveals Tomb Raider's missed sales potential

Square Enix released a detailed explanation of its "shocking" financial performance today, including the internal figures its recent trio of western-developed games failed to meet. President Yoichi Wada, who announced his pending resignation late last month, detailed the issues in a presentation to investors.

The Japanese publisher relied on a slate of big-budget western games through the last two quarters of its 2013 fiscal year, Wada said. This would be the first time the publisher leaned on its western assets so heavily without releasing a "blockbuster" in Japan.

Based on "game quality," Metacritic ratings, and genre, the publisher decided Sleeping Dogs had the retail potential to sell 2 to 2.5 million in Europe and North America in fiscal year 2013, Hitman: Absolution 4.5 to 5 million, and Tomb Raider 5 to 6 million. Square Enix forecasted each game would sell about 80 to 90 percent of its potential.

Sleeping Dogs and Hitman matched the low end with an expected 1.75 million and 3.6 million, but Tomb Raider was roughly 600,000 units short of its minimum forecast.

"We put considerable amount of effort in polishing and perfecting the game content for these titles, receiving extremely high Metacritic scores," Wada said. "However, we were very disappointed to see that the high scores did not translate to actual sales performance, which is where we see the substantial variance in operation profit/loss against the forecast."

The shortfall, combined with scrapping some casual productions and others made for a much worse than expected year for the publisher. Wada also confirmed that, after he steps down in June, he will leave Square Enix's management entirely.


  • Boonehams - April 10, 2013 9:45 a.m.

    And now Square-Enix is going to look at these numbers and go, "Well, looks like we can't trust western developers to deliver the goods. Nothing but Final Fantasy games it is." *dumps out another crappy Final Fantasy sequel of a sequel*
  • ParagonT - April 9, 2013 7:14 p.m.

    I think its just bad timing if you ask me. The console cycle is almost over and they were playing with a wild card that people wouldn't be able to predict.
  • Child Of Death - April 9, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    The hell Square? Those are amazing sales figures! Some developers would kill to have that many sales!
  • euan-davidson - April 9, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    I agree, I think the expectations are out of control, especially with the economy as it is.
  • ObliqueZombie - April 9, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    All things considered, those sales aren't bad at all. I loved Sleeping Dogs, too.
  • reddeaddigestion - April 9, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    Seriously, who is their market analyst? I have an idea, Square, fire that man and put a potted plant on the chair in his office. At least the potted plant won't give you worthless advice. Each of these 3 games were excellently made and bring a breath of fresh air to a media market bloated with "safe" copycat shooters and "safe" franchises that are 5+ years old. It speaks volumes about the ineptitude of Square and certain other pubs and devs when games like these are declared commercial "failures" when the pub or dev goes upside down on their production costs versus retail sales. Over the past several years, I have watched Square Enix publish numerous remarkable games which I have come to love. I have also watched as Square Enix somehow inexplicably continues to lose increasing amounts of money on the same titles. It is clear that Square will not survive the first half of the next console generation, unless they begin to practice far more tactical launch strategies and wake up to the fact that NO ONE looks at them or their devs as the golden goose. To the average consumer, there is NOTHING special about Square and the average consumer would not notice if Square was gone. Square's launch shedules and capital investment in each "major" title leads me to conclude that the execs managing Square think the average consumer sits around their house thinking, "I can't wait for Square Enix's next game to come out." This is false. For explanation of why Square's games undersell expectations, we need only examine their pathetic launch strategies: You WILL get stuffed if you release sleeping dogs right smack in the middle of the autumn/late summer launch window alongside Borderlands 2 and other titles such as Forza H and Darksiders 2. Pick a time of year when nothing is coming out and people have cash burning holes in their pockets! Most importantly: don't expect it to sell like GTA. It is not GTA. You will get stuffed if you release Hitman Abs smack in the middle of the winter/christmas launch schedule; when your game will contend with titles like Blops2 and Assassin's Creed 3. Christmas?! Really, Square? Most importantly, don't expect it to sell like COD. It is not COD. You will get stuffed if you release Tomb Raider alongside Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite (a LONG awaited title), and other comparable games in the eyes of the consumer. Heck, I'm still playing Farcry 3 and that is a very comparable game, in some respects, with a similar "survival" tone. Most importantly, do not expect it to sell like... Heck, I don't know what they thought would make it sell 5 million+ right out of the gate. TLDR: Square thinks they are one of the big boys... They are not one of the big boys. Even if they were, that still would not cover up their laughable understanding of demand in the market for video games.
  • sandplasma - April 10, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    Wow, very well said. This should be the number one comment. Its ridiculous, someone needs to get fired for calculating these expectations.
  • Vincent Wolf - April 9, 2013 5:16 a.m.

    Can't believe they find these numbers disappointing. Idiots, the game's a huge success, especially since last one wasn't that popular and some people probably were disappointed with franchise overall (I personally liked it, but not loved, like Legend).
  • tehtimeisnow - April 9, 2013 12:53 a.m.

    toomb raider selled bad cuz it sucks seruoisely it cant compete with a superier gane like balck ops2 or modern warefare3
  • 7-D - April 8, 2013 11:11 p.m.

    Hang on. Wasn't this one of (if not the) biggest selling games of the year so far? How can you sell that many copies and it still not be enough? What am I missing here?
  • FoxdenRacing - April 9, 2013 7:08 a.m.

    What you're missing is that the price to make a AAA game...including not only development but also marketing, corporate overhead, and physical climbing faster than sales are increasing. Last generation, 1M was enough for the "greatest hits" line; this generation, 4M sales is a commercial failure. And if the pattern that's held since at least the NES continues to hold, prices are going to double again with the new generation on the way.
  • Scoob - April 8, 2013 9:44 p.m.

    I'm interested to see how much Tomb Raider costed to make as well as it's advertising budget. In any case, I think the game will be one of those steady sellers over the years after a price reduction. Think something along the lines of Just Cause 2. A game I don't think many people bothered with upon release, but were all over it when it went on sale, basically setting up what will probably be a successful sequel.
  • Ivalo - April 8, 2013 9:32 p.m.

    Am I only one that wants to see Enix crash and burn? It's all about numbers and sales figures for them, not about actual games. Sadly, Square going down could mean crash for great western developers this witch has taken control of.
  • Bloodstorm - April 8, 2013 10:33 p.m.

    They already use them as their scapegoats, so can it be much worse?
  • Vincent Wolf - April 9, 2013 5:13 a.m.

    I kinda do. In that case I might yet see a good FF7 remake on PC while I still care.
  • semitope - April 8, 2013 9:13 p.m.

    Tomb raider mp should go f2p. That seems a good idea for a lot of these games that don't meet expectations. You provide an sp people want to pay for, and then make more on the mp
  • winner2 - April 8, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    This is what happens when execs lean too heavily on misguided economists. Personally I think Tomb Raider is a serious GOTY contender for me, more so than bioshock in fact.
  • Redeater - April 8, 2013 9:31 p.m.

    I LOVED Bioshock:Infinite but there is a huge part of me that was incredibly impressed by Tomb Raider. I don't think it's fair to compare them but if I had to choose I would give TR game of the year. I walked into B:I and got almost the perfect game I was expecting. I walked into Tomb Raider and was completely blown away because I was expecting a good game and got a fantastic one.
  • Vincent Wolf - April 9, 2013 5:14 a.m.

    Well TR is definitely the best game that came out since Arkham City...
  • tyler-aud - April 8, 2013 7:46 p.m.

    maybe they should focus less on how well they think it should sell and actually watch the trailers and videos on it from a consumer point of view. Because I didn't care for sleeping dogs. Hitman honestly I'd buy it, but for me it's never been a gotta have immediately game, and I got nothing bad to say about the new Tomb Raider. The trailers actually made me excited for it. I think publishers in general should instead of having expectations based on how much money they've put into the game, simply ask the simple question, If I were a consumer, could I pass up this title? I couldn't pass up bioshock Infinite, battlefield 3, Chivalry, etc. All those games got you pumped up for it, including Tomb Raider. Who here was truly pumped for Sleeping Dogs? Not I

Showing 1-20 of 29 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000


Connect with Facebook

Log in using Facebook to share comments, games, status update and other activity easily with your Facebook feed.