GameStop attributes poor sales to Star Wars and Halo performing “below expectations”

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Star Wars Vader

GameStop has posted some rather sluggish sales data. While they are expecting some big pick ups thanks to Black Friday and other holiday shopping, they named and shamed three games in particular that sold under projected amounts and resulted in lower figures for the retail giant. Those three games were: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Star Wars Battlefront and Halo 5: Guardians.

Most of the attention in the investor call was given to Battlefront and Halo. EA was convinced that Battlefront would sell 13 million units by the end of March 2016. While GameStop COO Tony Bartel wouldn’t give specific sales info, he explained:

We had high expectations that diminished somewhat as it got closer, and then it failed to hit those lowered expectations.

That situation is expected to change, though, once The Force Awakens releases in December. The movie should reignite some passion in the franchise among more casual gamers, resulting in an increase in movement of units. However, it’s GameStop’s assessment of the Halo launch that is rather amusing.

We already pointed out that claiming Halo 5’s launch was worth $400 million was a bit disingenuous seeing as that number included console bundles sold as well. Bartel takes this a step further and pushes the attention back to Microsoft themselves:

In the past, we know that certain publishers and platform holders have reported sell-in and some have even reported sell-in at retail. I’m not saying that that’s happened in this case, but that has happened in the past. And so I think I would definitely go back and talk to Microsoft about their announcement, as they are the only ones who can comment on that.

Second, they definitely understand exactly what their digital percentage was. They know exactly what they sold and they know exactly what was sold digitally. So again, I would encourage you to go back and ask Microsoft to disclose that number.

But again, we talk with platform holders and publishers constantly. We have again this quarter. And we are in full understanding and in full belief that there is no game that was launched this quarter that was materially above a normal digital percent at launch.

I wonder who is really to blame in these situations, though. GameStop has been at this for many years and must know about the difference between hype and actual sales. However, I’m not sure who would have predicted the less than stellar launch of Battlefront (other than Gavin, of course) and Halo. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was pretty obviously going to struggle thanks to the franchise’ issues last year, so I’m curious why they projected such high sales figures. At least games like Black Ops III and Fallout 4 met expectations, but I’m wondering if the publishers aren’t being wholly up front with GameStop about expected sales figures, or if the retailer is just underestimating the impact of digital sales and poor Beta performances.

Last Updated: November 25, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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