Destiny, the latest science fiction shooter from the makers of the multimillion selling Halo series, has 9.5 million registered users, publisher Activision has claimed.
The company revealed the figure in an investor call concerning its “better than expected” third-quarter 2014 financial results.
Although established titles like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto regularly sell over 20m copies each, a user-base of just under 10m is viewed as impressive for a fresh IP – it’s still reasonably rare for console games to sell in the tens of millions.
“It’s certainly not bad,” said Chris Dring, editor of industry news site, MCV. “ 9.5m people playing any game is an incredible figure, and an average three-hour a day gaming time shows that the title has managed to attract a large number of real die-hard fans. It’s a success for [the game’s developer] Bungie, who had taken quite a gamble in abandoning the Halo series to start again with Destiny.”
However, a question remains over what the term “9.5m registered users” actually relates to in terms of paying customers. “The number is of course opaque but offers some indicator of sell-through for the game, as it is mapped to individual Microsoft Xbox Live and Sony PlayStation Network accounts,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Technology.
“The number is diluted because, on average, console gamers that play online have more than one account per console and some will have used more than one account on the same game. Likewise not all bought copies will have registered users assigned to them yet as they are gifts or sitting on a shelf.
“Taking this into account we estimate sell-through to consumers across physical and digital sales to be in the 7.7-8.2 million range. Whichever number you use, this is still a very strong performance for a new franchise.”
Based in a distant future where mankind is threatened by a cabal of aggressive alien races that have all-but destroyed its colonies throughout the solar system, Destiny is a multiplayer role-playing shooter that mixes co-op and competitive elements. The game received mixed reviews on its release with some critics pointing to the game’s under-developed story and unconvincing characters.
Activision is extremely positive on the game, however, crediting it with the company’s 78% increase in revenue for the quarter, with a non-GAAP net figure of $1.17 billion. During the investor call, publishing chief Eric Hirshberg claimed that work on the next expansion pack, The Dark Below, is well underway, and that a full sequel is already in the works.
Right now, it seems there is plenty of appetite for more. “The game continues to have a real buzz with our readers despite being released in the face of big-name competitors,” said Matt Martin, editor of gaming news source, VG247. “Destiny is a real ‘next-gen’ gaming experience, and it’s very encouraging to see a new franchise enter the console market with a solid impact.”
The challenge now will be maintaining the momentum into, and well past, the busy Christmas release period, which is filled with other time-consuming action adventures including new Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry titles from Ubisoft.
“It’s not just important for Destiny to be successful a month after launch,” said Dring. “It’s about whether it can maintain that into 2015. Activision has developed a great reputation for launching billion dollar franchises, but Call of Duty’s popularity has gradually waned over the last three years, while Skylanders is a series that is suffering a significant fall in popularity.
“Hopefully, with Bungie’s help, Activision can ensure fans of that series are looked after and kept happy. Although charging £20 for a DLC pack does seem excessive.”
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