An Uncharted Sales Comparison

Originally published on Trevor Trove on May, 23, 2016

Alright, so I know I said I was done writing about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for awhile. But then Sony went out of their way to announce sales figures and the analyst in me just took over.

According to the PlayStation Blog, during its first week on the market, the latest Nathan Drake adventure sold more than 2.7 million copies, making it the fastest-selling first-party title in the North American region to date. That’s quite the feat and a huge congratulations to everyone on the team at Naughty Dog and PlayStation for making it happen.

But let’s look at some other numbers for comparison.

Assuming 40 million PlayStation 4s (the number reported in late April), that 2.7 million copies of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End represents a 6.75% attach rate. That will likely go up over the life span of the game and console. But let’s compare it to some others. At somewhere above 7 million, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us when considered across the roughly 84 million PlayStation 3s comes to 8.33% attach rate. The best-selling exclusive on the system Gran Turismo 5 sold almost 12 million for an estimated attach rate of 14.3%. The best-selling title overall on that system was Grand Theft Auto V with upwards of 20 million. So about one out of every four PlayStation 3 owners has Grand Theft Auto V.

Now lets’ compare some of those numbers to the Wii U, sitting at roughly 12.8 million units sold. Mario Kart 8 leads the pack with 7.5 million sold (58.6%). New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land follow with 5.19 and 5.07 million, respectively (40.5% and 39.6%). In order to get down to a title with as low an attach rate as The Last of Us, you’re looking at 1.067 million units. Super Mario 3D World (4.82M = 37.7%), Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (4.8M = 37.5%), Splatoon (4.27M = 33.4%), Super Mario Maker (3.52M = 27.5%), New Super Luigi U (2.49M = 19.5%), Mario Party 10 (1.76M = 13.8%), The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (1.72M = 13.4%), Wii Party U (1.58M = 12.3%), and Yoshi’s Woolly World (1.37M = 10.7%) all surpass that threshold. The only game on the Wikipedia list of best-selling Wii U titles that doesn’t make the cut is Hyrule Warriors at 1 million (though even that number is from January 2015 so it’s likely passed that threshold as well).

All of this to say that yes, the Uncharted 4 numbers are great and will likely increase over time. There is certainly the chance, though, that it’ll drop if more people keep buying the consoles for third-party games instead of first-party ones. So I have two major big picture takeaways from this analysis:

  1. Sony (and while not analyzed here, Microsoft) are incredibly smart to work with third-party developers and try to invest in exclusivity deals because the fact of the matter is that their biggest and brightest first-party games might not sell as well as the die-hard Sony (and Microsoft) fans would think.
  2. Nintendo isn’t in dire straits. Despite posting losses for the past few years, they have an incredibly passionate audience that buys Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games. And Nintendo gets a much bigger piece of the revenue pie with their self-published games than Sony or Microsoft do from their third-party game sales.

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