With the arrival of this unexpected sequel in a competitive market, Epic and Remedy seem to have found a solution.
Alan Wake 2 was one of the video games unveiled at Sony’s most recent PlayStation Showcase today.
The survival horror video game from Remedy (and published by Epic Games) looked fantastic, but later it was revealed that it would only be available digitally.
The company explained its decision in a FAQ on the designer’s website and began by noting: “You can buy a Sony PlayStation 5 without a disc drive, and Microsoft’s Xbox Series S is a digital-only console. Modern video games frequently have a digital-only launch.
Obviously, this is real. Here, we’re not discussing a minor project with no known audience; rather, we’re discussing a visually stunning survival horror sequel from the renowned designer of Max Payne and Control. A video game of this genre being released only digitally is unusual.
Additionally accurate observation is made of the digital-only consoles. The Xbox Series S is the most popular Xbox platform in several areas, and as a result, Xbox has grown to be a large digital platform. Publishers frequently release video games with an Xbox digital store sales percentage of above 80%.
The Dead Space remake conveniently sold far better in a package than it did as a download in Europe.
That’s important because Xbox is Alan Wake’s spiritual home. For Alan Wake 2, Remedy and Epic have teamed with PlayStation, but the situation there is different. Because just 15% of PS5s available in the UK are the all-digital model, the digital market share for PlayStation formats is much lower. Video games for the PS5 frequently sell much better at physical retailers.
Naturally, treatment is accurate. Digital has accelerated. We revealed that 55% of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s sales last month in the European market report. When Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was released in November of last year, it had a 35% digital market share. That represents a 20% shift from physical to digital, which has undoubtedly accelerated since the pandemic forced businesses to close and drove customers online.
That still means that over half of players bought Star Wars in physical form. Additionally, since Alan Wake 2 is a survival horror video game and we’ve lately had a few of those, we could need more in-depth information about it.
Conveniently, the Dead Space reboot, which debuted in January, sold better in a box than it did as a download. The March release of the Resident Evil 4 remake saw far stronger digital download sales, although it was still very close to a 50/50 split. Based on previously published GSD statistics, all of above is for Europe.
In December 2015, the Callisto Protocol became available. Although the GSD data does not track digital sales of this game, we can see that it did well at traditional retail, with boxed sales that were not all that dissimilar from those of the Resident Evil 4 Remake.
Given that Dead Space cost $70, it is understandable why many would prefer to own a tangible copy. Additionally, the Resident Evil 4 remake included well-liked collector’s editions, which would have improved boxed sales at launch.
Even if 50% of players who play survival horror games opt for physical combat, this does not mean Alan Wake 2 is losing half of its audience. Although I chose to buy Resident Evil 4 in a box, if going digital wasn’t an option, I would have done so instead.
This shows that tangible video games are a thing for survival horror fans, and Remedy’s decision to forego a packaged release will undoubtedly irk some people.
The release window is the second aspect of the decision that astounded me. Due to the impending holiday shopping season, when Alan Wake 2 debuts in the middle of October, physical retail sales are expected to be robust. Additionally, it’s a perfect range before Black Friday, allowing Remedy and Epic to hold the full price for a month before releasing the game on that well-known discounts week.
The PS5 and Xbox Series S and X have not enjoyed a true Black Friday because of stock shortages. With both businesses eager to expand their audiences for Christmas, this year is probably the first ever, which presents a significant opportunity for software. The most advantageous games will be Spider-Man, Assassin’s Creed, and Call of Duty, however Alan Wake 2 might still be included despite its high price. Naturally, Remedy and Epic can run digital Black Friday promotions, but this is the time of year when most people start (and finish) their holiday shopping, favouring the boxed market.
All of this suggests that by keeping Alan Wake 2 off the physical market, Remedy and Epic are losing out on a chance. It’s not quite that simple, and there are some really great reasons for both businesses to arrange some care.
In May 2010, the first Alan Wake was released. It competed against Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption and fell short. With time, a cult following developed, and the series, including the spin-off Alan Wake: American Nightmare, attracted over 5 million players. It required a long time of unceasing support and affection for it to arrive at that pivotal moment.
The key here is love, after all. Microsoft declined to order a thorough follow-up, but Remedy never gave up. In its future releases, it maintained the name of the video game and secured its intellectual property rights, contributing significantly to its 2019 breakout hit Control (which contained Alan Wake DLC). In many ways, it would have made more business sense for Remedy to concentrate on the Control IP (which has attracted over 10 million players), but it has instead chosen to go back to Alan Wake.
Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite and Unreal, undoubtedly offers Remedy a number of advantages, but actual retail circulation is not one of them.
To put it simply, Alan Wake 2 is not certain to be a hit, thus it is to Remedy and Epic’s credit that they have decided to take no chances at all. The follow-up was really developed fairly smartly, and its development cycle was significantly shorter than that of the first. It will still launch into a competitive market, although with lowered expectations. It debuts shortly after Assassin’s Creed Mirage, another popular single-player game, and a week before another spooky Alone in the Dark revival. Additionally, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is causing consumers to be more cautious.
According to reports in the market, The Callisto Protocol did okay for the genre (selling about 2 million copies in its first month), but fell far short of its publisher’s sales projections.
Remedy and Epic are well aware of both it and Dead Space’s comparatively slow sales, so those two factors together will be important. This explains why Remedy wants to “keep the video game cost at $59.99/ EUR59.99 and the PC version at $49.99/ EUR49.99.” The company is aware that it will be necessary to charge a competitive price as clients become more aware of costs.
Undoubtedly, Remedy has several advantages from Legendary Games, the company that created Unreal and Fortnite, but actual retail circulation is not one of them. There are costs involved, not just in the manufacture but also in the sellers’ and suppliers’ commissions.
Clearly, there is a market for a tangible copy of Alan Wake 2. For my part, I would happily buy a pricey scandal sheet set from a company like Limited Run or Iam8bit. Perhaps that is a route the company should take to appease its more ardent customers.
I really believe Alan Wake is capable of great things, and its inability to receive a physical release will hinder this. Solution isn’t some giant conglomerate, and it’ll need to act morally for both its video game and itself.
And if that means you want me to download it rather than buy it from a store, fine.
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