JUNE 9, 2015 • CD Projekt SA reports its Witcher 3 sales have surpassed 4 million units sold in two weeks. The title, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt RPG, was released on May 19 for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms. The previous two installments in the franchise have together sold 10 million units, according to the company. Although CD Projekt does not break out the figures, that tally is two million higher than the combined total announced last September. The Witcher 3 was three years in development. Also announcing early sales was Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe for Slightly Mad Studios’ Project CARS, which has sold 1 million units on all platforms. The racing game was released for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 7. Versions for the Steam OS and Wii U are due later in 2015.
Impact: The Witcher 3’s launch performance is really no surprise. As open world role-playing games go, The Witcher 3 is right up there at the top with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The world in Wild Hunt is huge, full of life and reactive to player actions in a way that encourages exploration in any number of unique approaches. The underlying story behind the game is deep, which comes through admirably via the side quests picked up while exploring, as well as the main plot quests. These are all attributes that entice fans of the genre and well explain why The Witcher 3 has moved 4 million units in two weeks. Poland-based CD Projekt has often been dismissed as a niche developer yet the company has grown into a major RPG contender, evidenced by its full embrace of current-generation console platforms (The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings only console appearance was on the Xbox 360 after almost a year’s delay from the PC release). RPGs are hugely popular on PCs as well as consoles, which is one of the reasons a strong entrant such as The Witcher 3 can achieve 40% of franchise lifetime sales in two weeks. Another open world, multiplatform RPG, Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition, is reported to be best selling launch in the studio’s history, although parent Electronic Arts, Inc. has chosen not to disclose the number of units sold since last November.
The racing genre, by comparison to RPGs, is not the sales powerhouse it once was. Racing titles remain a stalwart example of enhanced graphics on new consoles, yet there seems to be some consumer dissatisfaction with the mechanics of the racing games they are receiving. Publishers are pushing an open world concept in this genre, as well, but racing fans seem less interested in emulating Grand Theft Auto and more interested in actual track competition with their pals. The issue seems not so much fanciful tracks versus stock track, or accurate physics versus arcade physics, just more actual racing versus driving around the game world. So as the racing genre continues to sort itself out, Project CARS selling more than 1 million units within its first month is actually very positive. The game is a racing simulator that concentrates on real-world vehicles and circuits, not exoticars. In many ways the title supports the user fine-tuning that is common on the PC but not as much on consoles. That sense of precision also extends to input control, with racing wheels highly recommended for solo and multiplayer competition. The cars cannot be upgraded, but suspensions and engines cab be tuned in a realistic fashion. And tellingly, this is a title attempting to bridge platforms well. Project CARS answers the call of players who want to race, which is likely why it has sold well so far, despite not being a game for the casual crowd.