Home Gaming Mafia 3 is 2K’s fastest selling game, despite “anomalies in the review systems”

Mafia 3 is 2K’s fastest selling game, despite “anomalies in the review systems”

1 min read


Mafia 3 is a fantastic story wrapped up in middling game. While it takes some forward thinking risks with its characters and settings, many of its systems are stuck firmly in the past. Despite that, it’s now become 2K Games fastest selling video game. Yes, it’s eclipsed the previous Mafia games by leagues – and has beaten out stalwarts like NBA 2K, WWE, BioShock and Borderlands.

In its first week, Mafia 3 shipped in (that’s sold digitally, and pushed through to retail channels) 4.5 million copies, which is pretty damned phenomenal. And it’s done this despite unflattering reviews – something 2K has taken note of.

In an investor briefing, Take Two boss Strauss Zelnick noted that “Mafia 3 reviews were lower than we would have liked, but we and our competitors are seeing anomalies in the review systems.”

“But we have had an enormous amount of great reviews and consumers are buying it hand over fist, and that’s what we go by.”

His comments about competitors is almost certainly regarding Bethesda and its decision to no longer send out review copies to media until the day before release. According to Bethesda, it’s so that everyone gets the pure joy of playing at the same time, but we all know it’s so that they can drive up pre orders, and stave off the negative consequences of bad reviews.

It’s a trend with publishers that I think we can expect to see increase. Instead of day one reviews, expect to see more early gameplay previews; carefully constructed vertical slices of games that are great for generating hype. Also expect to see hyperbolic videos filled with undue hype.

I don’t think it’s particularly good for the consumer – but from a business perspective, I absolutely understand where Bethesda and 2K (and soon, more publishers) are coming from. That said, I think negative consumer word of mouth will hurt them more in the long run if they do use a lack of reviews to leverage day one sales of bad games.

Last Updated: November 3, 2016


  1. Jonah Cash

    November 3, 2016 at 07:35

    Just another reason why my wait and play later strategy is working. I don’t pay R1k for games and I get a better game that has been patched to the point where it is not recognizable to the day it was released.
    Geoff when you get a review copy is the day 1 patch already available to the reviewer? If not, then I understand why the publishers are going this route. As day 1 patches now fixes quite a lot of the problems.


  2. Umar

    November 3, 2016 at 07:40

    This is absolutely ridiculous now

    “I think the most prominent reviewers really loved it, and recognized that what we’re doing, from the story, art, characters and excitement perspective is really unmatched in the marketplace”

    So if it scored low, the reviewers just didn’t ‘get it’…..bullshit. Sick and tired of reviewers getting shit from gamers and pubs. Anomaly my ass.


    • Allykhat

      November 3, 2016 at 09:49

      The only way to win here is to speak with your wallet.

      The gaming industry unfortunately has promoted pre-ordering so much to the point that games like No Man’s Sky and Mafia 3 can launch broken and at full retail. The publishers already get their money because of the pre orders, so why should they care?


  3. Bruce Bielie

    November 3, 2016 at 07:41

    I am more worried that a middling game, even though wrapped in a great story, sold by the millions. Developers should not see that as a reason to give us ho-hum experiences going forward…


  4. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    November 3, 2016 at 07:55

    If publishers want to be childish and hide their mediocre games to drive up preorders I’ll just wait for the GOTY or a sale. Backlog is bigger than I can manage anyways. Also, indie games are getting better and better every year. Sure they don’t have the budgets of AAA companies but these days the experiences they offer tends to be more rewarding.


    • Andre Fourie

      November 3, 2016 at 08:14

      Nothing shittier than buying a new game on release date, that everyone raved about before it came out, and it has a @#*&^% 25gig day one patch.


  5. Alien Emperor Trevor

    November 3, 2016 at 08:13

    “anomalies in the review systems” LOL



  6. Dungeon of JJ

    November 3, 2016 at 08:16

    That’s on par with EA saying they “innovated too much” with Dungeon Keeper mobile game.


    • Bruce Bielie

      November 3, 2016 at 08:23

      Please be gentle. I am a former EA fan. The truth hurts like an arrow to the knee…


  7. Nikola

    November 3, 2016 at 09:45

    Just don’t pre-order games I don’t understand why people do, there are so many games out there to play that have been out for a while I rather play that until month or two past then I get it usually cheaper:)


  8. Kerrits

    November 3, 2016 at 10:54

    Consumers may be buying it, but they like it even less than the reviewers do.


  9. Phasmatis75

    November 3, 2016 at 13:41

    Head’s up the Washington Post article that originated this story made up the shipping/sold numbers. The actual report: http://ir.take2games.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=86428&p=irol-reportsannual does not indicated how many units the game shipped or sold. Just a heads up, it actually sold less than 1 million units.


    • Geoffrey Tim

      November 3, 2016 at 14:03

      The information coms from an investor’s call that took place on November 02, 2016 at 4:30 pm ET and came directly from Karl Slatoff, investor relations at Take-Two. It details shipped numbers, not sold numbers.

      “Mafia III is the fastest-selling game in 2K’s history, with week one sell-in of more than 4.5 million units and ongoing strong demand.

      We’re also witnessing very high interest in the game beyond just sales, with more than 88 million YouTube views of Mafia III in just its first week. The team at Hangar 13 departed from traditional mobster story that Mafia fans were accustomed to and leaned into the racially-charged tensions of the time rather than shying away from them.”


  10. Zubayr Bhyat

    November 4, 2016 at 16:01

    Since Mafia III is more GTA than GTA and Max Payne 3 put together, I guess everyone wanted that and solid story writing right?


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