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Analysts Disappointed in Duke, Far Less Sales Than Expected

July 6, 2011 Written by Tyler Minarik

Were you disappointed by Duke Nukem Forever? Fear not, you’re not alone, and it seems those relying on it to profit are feeling the pain too.

The reactions were certainly mixed when Duke Nukem Forever released. Some fans were greatly disappointed by the lackluster graphics and dated gameplay, while others were fully prepared for the pixelated blow. Die hard fans still claim it’s a good game, but enjoyable or not, the sales numbers will tell much of Duke Nukem’s story. Unfortunately for him, it’s a depressing one. Duke Nukem Forever was originally expected to sell at least 3 million units, but Wedbush Securities has lowered their estimates by half, to 1.5 million sales. This in turn has lowered Take Two’s Q1 profit expectations from $375 million to $350 million. Normally this might be a sign of trouble for a publisher, but Take Two looks like they’re still on solid ground, with numerous IPs that are expected to have solid sales numbers, and already look far better than the flailing Duke. Analyst Michael Pachter commented on the situation, saying:

We had previously expected Duke to be one of the year’s top sellers due to a high degree of hype and a dedicated fan base, and expected solid profit contribution as the bulk of development had been previously expensed. However, the game’s poor reviews (average Metacritic score of 49) likely had a negative impact on sales.

Despite the release of a disappointing Duke sequel, we expect Take-Two’s commitment to high quality games to translate into consistent profits. Of the major publishers, Take-Two has had the fewest ‘misses’ in terms of game quality over the last two years, and as a result, delivered a profitable FY:11 without a GTA release. It has over a dozen core franchises, and if it can streamline development, can be expected to increase franchise releases to three or more per year.

Sure, blame the reviews, but perhaps they underestimated the number of people that would be skeptical, and simply rent the game first too. However, if reviews are to blame, then count us in too, since Duke Nukem Forever didn’t score well with us, and for good reason. Surely Pachter only meant that the reviews adequately warned potential customers of the danger which lies ahead.

Luckily for Take Two LA Noire has shipped 4 million units, which is much more promising and hopefully will make up for some of their losses. With The Darkness 2, XCom, Bioshock Infinite, Max Payne 3, and many other well established games on the way they’ll likely recover just fine. Despite Duke’s issues, Take Two is still committed to the franchise and intends to expand into other mediums to take advantage of the IP. Maybe they’ll reconsider when they realize that there’s little advantage to be had, but only time will tell, for now.

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