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It turns out that four is not a magic number as both Gears of War: Judgment and God of War: Ascension struggle to perform in March.
Microsoft and Sony both had major exclusives for their home consoles last month in Gears of War: Judgment and God of War: Ascension, but both underperformed compared to their predecessors, according to analysis from investment firm Cowen & Company. BioShock Infinite, meanwhile, sold an estimated 665,000 copies on consoles in the 10 days following its release in March, and Tomb Raider sold approximately 696,000 units on consoles in its 33 days on the market. Both of these games, though, are multiplatform titles.
“We had expected sales trends to improve in March due to a strong core lineup,” reads Cowen’s note to investors. “However, while some titles appear to have done well, including Square Enix’s Tomb Raider and Take-Two’s BioShock Infinite, two historically strong franchises appear to have significantly underperformed.”
Cowen estimates that Gears of War: Judgment, the fourth release in the franchise, sold 425,000 units on consoles. That’s down from over 2 million in the first month for Gears of War 3 in September 2011. God of War: Ascension, the fourth major release for a Sony home console, only moved 360,000 units on consoles, Cowen predicts. That’s also down from around 1.1 million for God of War 3 in March 2010.
All of these numbers only include console sales. It does not represent any revenues through the popular PC sales service Steam.
Despite the success of Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite, Cowen expects total game-industry revenue to drop double digits compared to March 2012. The firm doesn’t expect to see growth until August with the early release of Madden and later with Battlefield 4 and Grand Theft Auto V.
Industry sales tracking firm The NPD Group will release its report for the month of March this Thursday after the markets close. We will have full coverage on that with analysis at that time.