Alan Wake has been a successful adventure for Remedy and PC gamers; in just 48 hours the Finnish developer managed to recoup marketing and development costs, debuted at number one on the Steam charts, and has captivated the long forgotten PC audience. Not bad for a game that launched two years prior as an Xbox 360 exclusive.
If we take a look at the sales figures alone, it's easy to understand that the PC audience has saved the Alan Wake franchise, giving it enough legs to warrant a full blown sequel. I wrote an article back in March discussing what the PC sales meant for Xbox exclusives in general, but with today's announcement that the spin-off title, Alan Wake's American Nightmare was also coming to PC, I thought it would a good opportunity to have a look at the sales figures for both platforms.
The original Alan Wake launched in 2010 as an Xbox 360 exclusive and enjoyed generally positive reviews from media outlets (Metacritic rates it at 83.65%). Despite a decent marketing push from Remedy and Microsoft, the game suffered dismal sales at launch, managing to shift only 145,000 units in its first two weeks. This could be largely attributed to the fact that it launched alongside the extremely popular Red Dead Redemption, which went on to sell over 10 million copies and win several Game of the Year awards. Let's not forget that Alan Wake became 2010's most pirated game, with 1.1 million downloads coming from the seedy underbelly of the internet, and it still remains as the second most pirated 360 game of all time.
Regardless of launch issues and piracy, the title has managed to shift 1.4 million units since launch, which isn't exactly outstanding. Considering a large number of those units would be free download tokens included with Xbox 360 consoles during a Christmas promotion held by Microsoft, it seems that the 360 version of the game was a complete failure when it comes to sales.
Then along comes the PC port two years later, which managed to sell like proverbial hotcakes on a Sunday morning. Despite managing to recoup all marketing and development costs in just 48 hours, less than a month after launch the PC version had sold approximately 600,000 to bump the franchise up to 2 million sales across both platforms.
Considering a lengthy development period of five years, the cost of developing the Xbox 360 version would have been exorbitant. Those 1.4 million sales would have been lucky to break even, no matter how much Microsoft Game Studios subsidised the development process. Yet in just two days, Alan Wake became profitable for the developers on the PC platform. That's definitely something worth taking note of.
At the end of February this year, Remedy released an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive adventure called Alan Wake's American Nightmare. More of an arcade affair with the story-telling prowess that Alan Wake fans deserve, this downloadable title seemed like a testing ground for Remedy to determine whether a full-blown sequel was financially viable.
According to XBLA sales figures published by Gamasutra, American Nightmare has sold approximately 55,039 copies between February 28 and April 1st. Granted there is almost a month of data missing now we are in May, but surely the sales haven't increased dramatically since.
So considering the original title sold approximately 1.4 million on the Xbox 360, the adoption rate of this stand-alone title is a mere 3.93%. Considering the recently released Trials: Evolution managed to ship 100,000 units during its first 24 hours, some could consider Alan Wake's American Nightmare a mediocre performer once again from a sales standpoint.
With the announcement that PC gamers will also get their chance to jump head first into the twisted world of American Nightmare in less than two weeks, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. While Xbox 360 gamers had to wait two years for another taste of Alan Wake, PC aficionados have only had to wait two months. The character, setting and world are still fresh in our minds, and many engrossed players are probably just finishing up their sessions with the original release, feeling hungry for more right away. A low price point, matched with some discounts on both titles in celebration, is sure to up the sales figures almost immediately and make this another profitable venture for Remedy in the PC market.
Alan Wake may have visited the Xbox 360 first, but he found a home on the PC. It is through his new home that Remedy can sleep easy at night, knowing that someone out there is willing to vote with their wallet for more adventures and stories from our favourite novelist.
By Stephen Heller - Bio