Sales Hit or Miss
Prince of Persia
Description: In 2008 Ubisoft launched a revamped Prince of Persia title that features a new art style and a focus on cooperative gameplay with an AI partner. After having successfully launched a new IP the previous holiday season (Assassin’s Creed), Ubisoft had high hopes that the new Prince of Persia could establish a second holiday tent pole series for them. Unfortunately, the game did not approach the sales of Assassin’s Creed, and even more disappointingly the game did not meet the sales of the previous Prince of Persia trilogy from the last console generation. However; the game has gone on to sell 1.75 million copies combined on the PS3/Xbox 360, which is not an insignificant number. So is Prince of Persia a hit or a miss? Keep reading to find out what we decided.
*Note the PC version of the game is not included in these sales figures.
To get a better idea about what the sales expectations were for the game, let’s look at some games that have a few similar characteristics. Beginning with the obvious comparison to Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed launched November 17th of 2007 whereas Prince of Persia launched December 2 of 2008, which means that Assassin’s Creed has a couple more weeks of holiday inflated sales on its side. Still Assassin’s Creed was dramatically outpacing Prince of Persia from the start, which is surprising considering Prince of Persia was from an established franchise while Assassin’s Creed was a new property. So while Ubisoft may not have expected Prince of Persia sales to hit the highs of Assassin’s Creed, they probably were hoping that Prince of Persia would sell more than ~21% of Assassin’s Creed’s total (1.75 million for Prince of Persia, 8.35 million for Assassin’s Creed).
Ok, so we’ve established that sales of Prince of Persia are a disappointment compared to the mega successful Assassin’s Creed, but how does Prince of Persia compare to other similar games?
The Prince of Persia series has a fairly unique gameplay style, so I’ve included comparisons to other action/adventure games that contain at least a few elements from the platformer genre. The most important comparisons are of course the Prince of Persia games from the Sands of Time trilogy last generation. As mentioned in the chart, sales of the Gamecube versions’ of the Prince of Persia titles are not available. But when estimating for that version’s sales along with the totals for the PS2 and Xbox versions, sales of Prince of Persia (2008) are probably down about ~45% from Sands of Time and ~30% from Warrior Within (data for The Two Thrones is not available). Which again puts the sales of Prince of Persia in a negative light.
The final comparison I want to highlight is how Prince of Persia compares to other recently developed games from Ubisoft Montreal.
You can see that Ubisoft Montreal is a studio with a knack for developing hit games. The only games to sell less than a million are games based on licensed properties (Lost and Naruto). So compared to most of their other developed gamesPrince of Persia underperformed.
Now we have an idea of how Prince of Persia performed to games with similar characteristics, but what response has the publisher given to the game’s sales?
In Ubisoft’s 3rd quarter 2008-2009 financial report (link) they describe the game as having a “slow take off”.
In an interview Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez said that the goal for the game was to sell at least 2.5 million copies and that “If it goes to four or five (million), then there is an upside factor for the company, If it goes to 1.5 million, then there is a downside factor.”(link)
Finally the relatively recent announcement that The Prince of Persia franchise is going to return to the Sands of Time story for the upcoming game Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands does not speak well for Ubisoft’s happiness with the performance of Prince of Persia (2008). Although of course a big part of that decision was because of the upcoming Prince of Persia: Sands of Time movie.
Verdict: It is hard to justify claiming a game that has sold 1.75 million copies is not a success because many games would love to have those sales numbers. It is also likely that the game broke even or made a small profit for Ubisoft (especially since the vast majority of the game’s sales came early before a price reduction). However; the developer and publisher obviously had larger plans for the game than for it to be slightly profitable, and therefore I think it is considered a missed opportunity.
Thanks for reading today's Sales Hit or Miss Game of the Day, be sure to let us know if you think Prince of Persia was a sales success or failure in the comments section.