Nintendo 3DS

Series Fans Lapped Up Kingdom Hearts 3D, Casual Players Maybe Not


As expected, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance didn’t do all that well. The game sold 213,579 copies in its first week, which Media-Create report is 64.20% of its shipment. By comparison Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days on Nintendo DS sold 295,205 copies in its first week, which was a 72.35% sellthrough.


Media-Create point out two observations to accompany these sales:


1. Nintendo 3DS sales are only at about 5.5 million, while Nintendo DS sales were over 25 million when 358/2 Days was released.


2. Another interesting fact is that Kingdom Hearts 3D had lower first-week sales despite the fact it had higher pre-orders. 358/2 Daysonly had 90,000 pre-orders prior to release, while Kingdom Hearts 3D had 150,000 pre-orders.


Both these theories would suggest that Kingdom Hearts 3D had no problem reaching the series’ fans, which rules out the possibility of some sort of stigma against the game, as some have suggested. Instead, it suggests that Kingdom Hearts 3D failed to sell to a more mainstream audience. Perhaps Square Enix might have benefitted from releasing the game to a larger Nintendo 3DS userbase.


In the case of Birth by Sleep, too, the previous mainline Kingdom Hearts game, the PSP userbase was far higher than the 3DS userbase is at present. Personally, I believe that the game also benefitted from having an existing audience to tap into, thanks to Square Enix’s prior release of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, with which there was probably some audience overlap.


Finally, there’s also the matter of the series simply having gone on for too long. Each new game makes it harder and harder for new fans to get into the series. At the very least, Birth by Sleep gave fans a new cast of characters. In contrast, Kingdom Hearts 3D expects the player to jump right in and keep up with the events of the previous five games.


The question now is, how will Kingdom Hearts 3D perform worldwide? Square Enix plan to release the game this July in North America.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.