Sony and Microsoft both had huge exclusive titles land in March, but apparently neither one of them lived up to their company's expectations. Gears of War: Judgment on the Xbox 360 and God of War: Ascension on the PlayStation 3 both turned in poor sales figures according to analyst firm Cowen & Company after a slow start in March.
Their sales figures point to 425,000 for Gears of War and 360,000 for God of War. Compared to the last entries in both series, Gears of War 3 had sold 2 million in the first month while God of War 3 had sold 1.1 million.
"We had expected sales trends to improve in March due to a strong core line-up. Two historically strong franchises appear to have significantly underperformed."
What could be the problem? Well, franchise exhaustion, for one thing. Trilogies have been in fashion for the past decade, and many have come to realize that three is the magic number before taking your franchise to the next level.
Three official Super Mario Bros games before taking it into 3D with Super Mario 64. Three major Final Fantasy games every generation. Three Metroid games before it became a first-person shooter, and three Metroid Prime games before taking it back into platforming.
It especially looks bad when they slap the game with a subtitle rather than an official number. It almost makes it look like the game shouldn't be taken as seriously as an official entry in the main series.
Gamers need to see more and more progress in a series before signing on for more and more entries, and sadly, these two didn't really seem to push the envelope enough. Call of Duty and Battlefield are exceptions to the rule, and these franchises just couldn't make the jump.
I wouldn't blame exhaustion of the current console generation though. In the same report, Cowen & Company praises the sales of Tomb Raider, 696,000 in 33 days, and BioShock Infinite, 665,000 in just 10. Both franchises were overdue for a new entry, and both completely overhauled their appearance and gameplay ideas while still keeping the spirit of the series intact. Great sequels to old franchises, and that's why they sold well.
Not to mention, the classic Tomb Raider series also started to lose its touch after the third entry in the series.
Time to put your thinking caps on, Microsoft and Sony. How can you make two of your biggest franchises fresh again. Just slapping multiplayer on or changing the protagonist isn't going to get the job done.