When Level 5 and Studio Ghibli first announced their jointly-developed Nintendo DS RPG, Ni no Kuni, it seemed like a game that was destined for success. It had a strong developer behind it, as well as the support of one of the most renowned animation studios in Japan.
Expectations of the game naturally soared, owing partly to Level 5’s development prowess and partly to Level 5 and Ghibli’s extremely wide range of appeal. Ni no Kuni was going to be the next big thing.
Only, it wasn’t, and even retailers may have been off-the-mark in their predictions.
Based on retailer demand, Level 5 shipped 600,000 copies of the game out to retailers in Japan — the highest initial shipment for any new Level 5 property. Following its release on December 9th, however, Ni no Kuni: The Jet-Black Sorcerer moved a relatively low 170,548 units out of the total 600,000 shipped.
To put things in perspective, this is a game that Level 5 president, Akihiro Hino, expected to follow in the footsteps of the immensely successful Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven franchises. 170K units in week 1 is a far-cry from either. For reference, Inazuma Eleven 3 sold 505,161 units in its own opening week.
There’s still a chance for Ni no Kuni to catch up, however. Positive word of mouth goes a long way toward effectively promoting a game, and Japanese sales tracking firm, Media-Create, believe that Ni no Kuni could continue to sell, especially to women in their 20s who, according to their surveys, display a high level of product recognition, interest and purchase intent toward the game.
We should have second-week sales figures for Ni no Kuni available this week, so we’ll soon be able to tell if there was any change in the game’s fortunes.