Editorial: LittleBigPlanet Was A LittleBig-Flop Because Of Beta

By William Usher 2008-11-30 14:19:32 discussion comments
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LittleBigPlanet would probably be considered the biggest, most anticipated game of the year for the PS3. Fans were estatic about the game; gaming blogs and publications were already hailing Sackboy and Sackgirl as the next Mario and Luigi; and Sony seemed to put enough interest into the game to promote it as the next mascot-based title for the PlayStation brand. However, things didn't seem to look quite as grand when the NPD results were released, and LittleBigPlanet looked more like a single-A title rather than a triple-A system seller.

While Sony managed to move more than 200,000 units of the game for the PS3 -- which is impressive if it were a game made by a no-name developer and published by an even lesser known publisher -- it looks a little bleak when compared to the million-units-sold mark that Gears of War 2, Far Cry 2, GTA IV and other titles managed to achieve within a few weeks. As a triple-A title, LittleBigPlanet would easily be considered a LittleBig-Flop. Nevertheless, sites like Electronista believes that there may be a discrepancy in the numbers due to the amount of LBP units that may have been sold alongside PS3 consoles that may not have been counted in the final statistics. Regardless of excuses, that doesn't justify why it sold less than SOCOM: Confrontation, another first-party exclusive for the PS3, which was far less hyped and received very little promotional efforts from Sony.

Even though I hate to say it, I think Cliffy B. had a point in his deviation from allowing demos and betas to be released of high-profile projects. With more than 25,000 beta keys that were made available from Sony for the LittleBigPlanet beta a few months back, it's easy to see how gamers got in a good deal of play time and then figured it wasn't worth buying the full version, especially if they invited friends over to play, who didn't even need the beta. Based on the sales it looks as if a lot of gamers got in their game time and figured it wasn't urgent to purchase the game once it was released. This became further evident when Kotaku reported on people buying LittleBigPlanet beta keys from ebay. And given the extensive amount of playability (and creativity) offered within the beta of LBP, I'm sure a lot of gamers forfeited the added expense of buying the game when it did become available.

I wonder if Sony is secretly resenting the "stress test" for which the beta was intended? What's funny, though, is that despite the moderate sales of LBP, Sony was apparently pleased with the results, according to VideoGamer.com. Maybe someone should tell the execs at SCE that software sales usually decline on a title as time goes on, they don't increase. Then again, they seem to be aiming the PS3 to exit the world backwards, because these are the same folks who are not planning on cutting the PS3's price during the holidays or soon after the holidays, so says PCMag.com. So I guess Sony is just running their entertainment division butt-backwards from here on out, which is not too surprising given that they thought people would be thrilled to pay $700 for the PS3 back in 2006, when the economy was already showing signs of edging toward disaster.


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