What makes a game a bona fide hit? The answer you get depends who you ask. Gamers may appreciate a title for breaking the norm, how it plays, or high review scores. Executives have a different idea and at the LA Games Conference three of them tried to define the parameters which make a game a blockbuster.
“When a packaged product goes over a million units in a specific period of time,” said Phil Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Business Development at SCEA. While Rosenberg didn’t define the period of time, games like Heavy Rain and God of War III are probably considered in-house blockbuster.
Sony and many retail publishers define blockbusters by physical sales, but how do free to play games like FarmVille and MapleStory define a megahit? “I would call a game a blockbuster when it reaches 20 million uniques [unique visitors a month],” replied Teemu Huuhtanen, President of Sulake Inc. in North America. Sulake is best known for Habbo Hotel, a social game. “Habbo is not quite there yet,” Huuhtanen openly stated.
Industry analyst Michael Pachter from Wedbush Morgan Securities took the middle ground and commented on both types of games. “On a packaged product $150 million a year on a popular franchise,” Wedbush proclaimed. For social games? “I’d say 15 million uniques gets you blockbuster status.”