We gamers love to talk about what's selling and what's not. Actually, scratch that. Not just gamers, it seems to be a human phenomenon. Box office and music charts are regularly reported in the mainstream media. I'm not sure why we're so fascinated by charts, but we are.
The two main ingredients of our regular chart diet are the weekly UK UKIE report and monthly NPD sales for the United States. We tend to divide the world into two neat categories: "Japan" and "West", so we generally assume that the UK and U.S charts are more or less similar to what's going on elsewhere in "the west". But is it?
Out of curiosity, I decided to check the Amazon best-sellers in the videogame category in five countries: U.S, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and I was surprised at just how different gaming tastes can be in those countries. Even Canada and the U.S have significant differences between them. Sure, the big blockbusters sell well everywhere, and as expected the Xbox brand dominates the U.S and the UK, while PlayStation rules everywhere else, but beyond that there are considerable differences. A game that's in the top five in one country may be nowhere to be found in the top hundred in another. It's quite fascinating! Of course, we can't assume what's selling on Amazon is selling across the whole country, but I think it provides an interesting window into local tastes. Also remember that Amazon.com doesn't officially sell Wii U hardware and only recently began selling a limited number of 3DS models again, so that skews things a bit on that front.
I don't want to drag this on too much, so I'll keep it simple. I'll link the five charts and write a bit about what I see, nothing fancy. I mostly just wanted to talk about this with somebody, and who better than the Dtoid community to talk to about VIDEOGAMES?!? BTW, these charts are updated all the time, so don't be surprised if what you see don't exactly match what I wrote.
Amazon.com Amazon UK Amazon Canada Amazon Germany Amazon France
First of all, next-gen! We can clearly see that the common perception that the U.S and the UK are Xbox land while PlayStation dominates everywhere holds true in these charts. I was actually under the impression that Xbox's dominance extended to Canada as well, but apparently I was mistaken. However, if Amazon is any indication, Microsoft is doing a mighty fine job of giving back their hard-won market share to Sony. Everywhere, the PS4 and PS4 games are doing considerably better than their Xbone counterparts. Tellingly, in both Xbox strongholds there are more pre-orders for CoD Ghosts for the PS4 than for the Xbone, timed DLC exclusivity be damned. In the U.S, there are 4 PS4 games before the first Xbone one, Ghosts, shows up at #30. Microsoft will either have to work extra hard to win back gamers or hope that TVTVTVSportsTV woos enough "normal people" to make up for it.
Are gamers "starving" for next-generation, as we're often told, or are many perfectly content with what they got right now? From the looks of these charts, I'd say many gamers are perfectly happy with current gen and are in no hurry to upgrade.
Unless your're Germany, that is. Boy, are those guys ready for next-gen! 5 of the top 6 sellers are either PS4 consoles or PS4 games, and a full 11 of the top 20 are PS4 products (The Xbone comes in at 19, and no Xbone games are currently in the top 20). I think it's safe to say Germany is very much looking forward to next-generation. Go Germany!
Now, pop-quiz time: In which of the five countries is Zelda the most popular? According to Amazon, the answer is, far and away... drum roll... Canada! A link Between Worlds is at the very top right now, while Wind Waker HD comes in at #33 (charting higher than Black Flag IV and Battlefield 4 on the Xbone), its best performance by far. Elsewhere Wind Waker is either near the the bottom or outside the top 100.
Speaking of Canada, have I mentioned that Canada rocks? I'm officially in love with it. A Link Between Worlds number one? Super Mario 3D World number six? Tales of Symphonia Chronicles (!) of all games (which is nowhere to be found on the top 100 anywhere else) charting higher than the likes of Assassin's Creed and Ni No Kuni still in the top 40? There may be hope for humanity yet!
Canada also seems to be more receptive to the OUYA. The OUYA is currently in the top 20, and a couple days ago it went as high as #4. In the U.S and UK, the two other countries where Amazon officially sells it, there's no sign of it in the top 100.
On the other side of the spectrum, the United Kingdom seems to have the least amount of love for Link and co (and for Nintendo in general), with A link Between Worlds all the way back at #50 and Wind Waker nowhere to be found. Hum... I always felt there was something wrong with that country... now I know why! :)
Speaking of Nintendo, it's probably no coincidence that the two markets that have moved most heavily towards blockbuster shooters (U.S, U.K) seem to be where Nintendo is least popular (compared to the other 3 countries). I mean, if all you care about is shooters, "Nintendo" is the last name to cross your mind.
France has perhaps the most interesting and quirky tastes. This is a country where the €99 (yes, €99) collector's edition of Bravely Default is currently outselling both next-gen versions of Ghosts on the local Amazon! As I write this it's in the top 20, but earlier in the day it was even in the top 10. Do you know what else is outselling next-gen Ghosts? Inazuma Eleven: Lightning Bolt and something I've never heard of called Monster High: 13 souhaits (13 wishes), all for the 3DS. This Monster High thing must be big over there, even the DS version is performing relatively well at #40. Oh, did I mention that Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is in the top 3?
France and Germany may be right next to each other, but if Germans are going crazy for next-gen (or at least German Amazon customers), the French are in no hurry. Like, at all. Between consoles and games, there are a whopping 6 next-gen products in the top 50, with the first being the PS4 Killlzone bundle at #12. If they're not not terribly enthusiastic about next-gen in general, they're even less about the Xbone. The first Xbone game on the top 100, Black Flag, comes in at #66. Among the games currently doing better than every single Xbone games as well as most PS4 ones, besides the 4 already mentioned, are such blockbusters as Wii Party U, Sonic Lost World and Inazuma Eleven: Feu Explosif. Oh, and FIFA 14. On the Wii.
If France isn't embracing the future, I suppose it's only natural they are all about Nintendo, right...? Sorry, that one just flowed right out! Anyways, of the 5 countries, France is where Nintendo seems to be the most popular. Between Nintendo hardware, accessories, Nintendo games and third-parties, a whopping 48 positions in the top 100 go to Nintendo stuff. A couple days ago I even spotted the Wii U version of Ghosts in the top 100, believe it or not.
One thing that surprised me in all countries is just how well Wii games are still selling. Isn't it supposed to be dead and forgotten? In France there are 2 Wii games in the top 6, and elsewhere they're still doing surprisingly well. If Nintendo can somehow convince those Wii owners to upgrade eventually, the Wii U might succeed with exactly the opposite sales curve of the Wii: while the Wii took off right away, peaked and vanished almost overnight, the Wii U could have a very slow start and take off in its later years, not unlike the PS3. Of course, that depends on Nintendo successfully reaching those active Wii owners, a big if.
We usually focus on the top of the charts, but the bottom also tells an interesting story: there are plenty of very old Wii games in them, and not just in France. Have you ever wondered how come Nintendo games rarely have impressive opening sales compared to the big blockbusters, and then when they release sales numbers after a couple years it turns out that game that didn't even make the top 3 in its opening month sold like 15 million copies? This is why. They keep selling for years, long after we've forgotten all about them. On Amazon Canada, Super Smash Bros has been in the top 100 for 1438 days. In France, Mario Kart Wii, currently at #72, has been in the top hundred for a whopping 1818 days. That means it pretty much never left the top hundred since it launched 5 years ago, while last year's blockbusters are nowhere to be found. Even some DS games are still there.
Remember when I said in the beginning that I wouldn't drag this on? Yeah well, so much for that. I just found it so interesting to see how different gaming tastes can be in supposedly similar countries that I could keep ranting on and on, but I this is enough for now. I hope you enjoyed it, and remember: next-time you see an NPD or UK chart, don't assume it's the same story everywhere else!