Would Alan Wake Have Sold Better on the PlayStation 3?

June 7, 2010 Written by Mike Hartnett

Alan Wake, the Remedy-developed psychological action thriller released exclusively for the Xbox 360 roughly a month ago, was a critical success, but sales figures for the game have been rather disappointing, at least by gaming standards. This begs the question… would Alan Wake be doing far better had it been released for the PlayStation 3? And more-so, would PlayStation 3 owners have had a better appreciation for it?

For those who may be unfamiliar with the title, Alan Wake casts you as, you guessed it, Alan Wake, a popular crime fiction author who hasn’t experienced a successful publish in years. He heads off to the country to try and get his creative juices flowing again, only to find himself falling into a horror story of his own. The gameplay is quite interesting, as players must use the power of light to fight off dark, deadly creatures and other baddies, while the story tries to work your mind every which way. The graphics, for the most part, are quite nice, with an array of good affects and excellent sound. So there you have it, you now know about Alan Wake, but let’s get into the sales figures and just why it may have fared better on the PlayStation 3.

The sales for Alan Wake, for the most part, have been rather disappointing, at least compared to other titles that, despite having vastly different gameplay styles, tackle the same sort of new IP, psychological crime-style, titles like Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain was developed by Quantic Dream, a company that had had past success with games like Indigo Prophecy, but never really had any phenomenally huge blockbuster releases. So essentially, Quantic Dream had very little momentum going into Heavy Rain’s release, aside from the chit-chat around the web and coverage from video game news outlets, even the commercial advertising wasn’t all that heavy, and yet the title managed to warrant over 520,000 units sold in its first week on the market due to the intriguing gameplay and intense story, still managing to move over 20,000 units per week nearly four months after its initial release.

The 360-exclusive Alan Wake, on the other hand, hasn’t managed to do quite as well, only managing to move around 260,000 units in its first week on the market, half that of Heavy Rain, even with past hits like Max Payne 1 & 2 under Remedy’s belt. Although both titles are vastly different, they did have the same, psychological thriller aspect in common along with a strong sense of quality and great gameplay. What didn’t Alan Wake have? A first-person viewpoint, incessant swearing, blood and gore everywhere; one or more of these aspects are typically found in successful 360 exclusives, not all, but most. This isn’t a bad thing, but many may question whether or not this trend may have hurt Alan Wake and hindered its ability to be accepted as a great game for the average gamer who may not be “in the know” when it comes to new releases, inevitably leading those releases to fly under the radar.

Interestingly enough, four of Remedy’s founding members were a part of the demoscene group Future Crew. So far, the only console to see anything demoscene related at all has been the PlayStation 3 with Linger In Shadows, which was a PSN exclusive; see the connection? It’s as though Remedy’s intriguing, thought-provoking style is destined to make its way onto the PS3 at some point or another. This genre of demoscene-inspired interactive digital art is nowhere to be found on the 360, but that’s another discussion for another time.

All-in-all these issues just have to make one wonder, do PS3 owners have a broader range of interest and acceptance for different game genres as opposed to Xbox 360 owners? Would Alan Wake have done better on the PlayStation 3? Many of the aforementioned figures and ideas would lead us to believe that Alan Wake would have not only been a critical success, but a financial one as well, had it debuted as either a multi-platform title or even a PlayStation 3 exclusive. As it stands now, Remedy has full rights over its games and properties, so if these sales figures do indeed send a strong enough message to the Finnish game developer, we could be seeing games like Alan Wake and the like making their way onto Sony’s big black behemoth.

Remedy, when you’re ready, PS3 owners will be here, waiting.