DCUO: A Week Is A While, Right?

DC Universe Online’s launch week sales figures are out. As far as physical units go, DCUO shifted:

  • 151 000 PS3 boxes; and
  • 45 000 PC boxes.

DCUO apparently did good business on the PC in digital distribution, but I don’t have any good sources for numbers there.

It does make Sony Online Entertainment’s comments that DCUO had sold out in a lot of stores” interesting because 200k boxes all up isn’t that much in video game terms. One of the advantages of launching so early in January (I’ve covered the disadvantages previously) would have been open water in terms of being the only major new title released. It is a positive for SOE to have sold out of DCUO (at least in North America), but they hardly flooded the market with physical copies either.

It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

All that said, MMOs are long-term investments, so how well it sold in launch week may be unimportant in the longer term if DCUO is able to grow player numbers. Initial word of mouth around DCUO is positive which will help drive those sales up, but again I see player retention as DCUO’s core challenge. (The first content patch is likely to include some content cut late in DCUO’s beta for “tweaking”, where “tweaking” means “we need some content to release 1 month from now”, some basic functionality like the auction house, some power changes that will make players unhappy as they always do and maybe the first glimpse of the DCUO cash shop content.)

We’ll see how DCUO’s sales and servers are next month.

Now, Where’s My Soapbox?

SOE continue the curious path of charging Australian players 33% more for subscription fees than the US$ / AU$ exchange rate would suggest it should be, then announced that Australians would roughly be paying 60% more for Station Cash. 100 Station Cash costs US$1, or 1 SC equals US1c. Australia is being charged AU$1.60 for 100 SC points, despite AU$1 equalling US99c. That’s a pretty big mark-up.

When pressed about this difference, the most action promised by SOE was that they’d put up an Australian price page on the DCUO site while perhaps the higher costs were due to the payment collection agency SOE were using. Every other MMO company I’m aware of manages not to charge 30%-60% more than the exchange rate would suggest is appropriate, so perhaps SOE needs to see who (say) NCsoft uses and make the switch if they want to keep the Australian market on side.

SOE may not care that much about a relatively small market, of course.

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9 thoughts on “DCUO: A Week Is A While, Right?

  1. 45K PC sales seems pretty dire. Warhammer and AOC sold about a million units and were still considered failures.

    The console sales are something of an unknown quantity as we don’t really know how console players behave with regard to recurring monthly costs. I suspect a month of blowing people up at something Batman like will be enough for most of them before they move on.

    I don’t think it’s a marathon at all. I think the numbers still subbed in a year’s time will be minuscule.

    • I’m saying that DCUO might latch an audience that grows over time and the initial buzz might help. I personally don’t think it will, but there’s a chance.

      PC physical charts are pretty dire in terms of numbers. Unfortunately digital distribution figures are hidden to the public, making comparisons hard.

      • I think what intrigued me was that the 2008 games at a million boxes were considered failures and DCUO at 45K is considered between success and failure. I do get it that box sales is a terrible measurement now but it’s interesting how far it’s slipped as an indicator in just over 2 years.

  2. I am playing DCUO, mainly because my husband was interested as a comics fan. I am enjoying it, but I honestly don’t see it holding on to me for long in its current state. I don’t really see myself renewing at the end of my free month. They have said they will continue to release new content, but we will see.

    I got a digital distribution directly from SOE.

    • I really should have stated that I thought DCUO sold about 300k copies all up instead of couching my bets and only reporting on physical copies.

      But I think your feelings are shared by many – “hey, this is fun!” followed by “but I won’t be paying $15 a month for it”.

  3. Pingback: All Quiet on the Gotham Front | GEE IT LALDY!

  4. To be fair, the mark-up in Australia isn’t really that much. Although the dollar is on par with the US we have a much higher cost of living and therefore, wages. When you can expect to be paid (untrained, entry level job) $20 an hour, $20 a month is really not that unaffordable.

    • Cost of living and higher wages is sometimes quoted as a reason for the difference, but it isn’t correct. The median income in Australia might be higher, but we’ve got less purchasing power than the US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income) – we can’t get the same range of goods and services for the same prices. Transport costs are often blamed for this, but the subscription fee is a virtual exchange that shouldn’t include any more than a small transaction cost – looking at my credit card statement, the last virtual payment I made copped a 65c transaction fee on a $20 transaction.

      It’s not about affordability, it’s about value – why are Australians paying $5 more for what amounts to a lesser offer (i.e. server down times in Australian prime time, customer support is in off-peak mode, lag, etc) than the US gets? SOE haven’t answered why it is such a large difference exists and in fact have officially stopped trying (http://forums.station.sony.com/dcuopc/posts/list.m?topic_id=19206). No other MMO company I’m aware of puts such a large price difference on Australian subs.

      I don’t think SOE is looking at every country’s individual minimum earnings rate and comparative income tax level when they are setting their sub prices. 🙂

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