In true Alan Wake style, the story is murky.
Dec 13, 2023 11:47 pm
Dec 13, 2023 10:57 pm
Earlier today, we reported on Circana’s monthly US game sales report, which has Hogwarts Legacy and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in a neck-in-neck battle for annual bestseller. A few other new games, such as Super Mario RPG, made their debuts in the top 20 as well last month. But a quick glance over the charts for November reveals a conspicuous missing entry.
Where’s Alan Wake 2? Did it really not sell well enough to break into the top 20? Should we all start panicking about Remedy now?
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Speaking to IGN, Circana analyst Mat Piscatella explained why Alan Wake 2 didn’t debut in the top 20 of Circana’s sales charts this month. It’s largely an issue of data reporting: Circana doesn’t have data on every single sale for every single game. They can collect data from physical retailers, and select digital data from publishers and storefronts who choose to supply it.
As a result, while Circana’s data is extremely useful, in many cases, it’s incomplete. The best examples of this are Nintendo, which does not provide digital sales to Circana at all, and Take-Two, which used to provide data but limited its input a few years ago. That’s why you never see GTA 5 in the Circana charts despite it selling a solid five million copies per quarter worldwide.
In Alan Wake 2’s case, there was no physical release, and its publisher Epic Games does not provide digital sales data to Circana, so there’s just no way for Circana to tell us how well it sold. Piscatella did confirm that Alan Wake 2 ranked 147th on Xbox Series and 115th on PlayStation 5 in MAUs in November, but that doesn’t tell us too much.
We can supplement that with a bit more data from Ampere Analysis’ Piers Harding-Rolls, though, to get a clearer picture. Ampere estimates that globally, just on console, Alan Wake 2 sold 850,000 copies as of the end of November.
Our global Alan Wake 2 sales estimate across console end of Nov is ~850k
Think there will be a fair amount of interest at a reduced price, and then there is sub service inclusion down the line (I assume)
Worth noting that AW Remastered got a decent boost in Oct/Nov as well pic.twitter.com/GtI1DFcomQ
— Piers Harding-Rolls (@PiersHR) December 13, 2023
It’s a bit tricky to tell given the limitations of both those data sets, but if you feel like that seems a touch low for a major AAA game that was widely-anticipated and is reviewing phenomenally, well…it is, and it isn’t. Remedy’s last offering, Control, sold two million units in its first year, and that was without any presence on PlayStation. You could argue that Control is doing better because of its physical release, but in that same period, Remedy reported that only 10% of the game’s sales were digital. So physical wasn’t doing a ton of heavy lifting in the first place, and Alan Wake 2 skipping the expensive process of a physical edition entirely could have saved Remedy more money than it would’ve made.
So is Alan Wake 2 really selling poorly? It’s…still hard to say, even with these pieces of data. 850,000 copies on console, sans PC, isn’t bad. And if you assume even just a few hundred thousand PC players, sales could be within reach of Control’s one-year milestones. Still, Control was a new IP, where Alan Wake is supposedly a beloved cult classic riding on Control’s stellar coattails. It would make sense for Remedy to have higher hopes for its success. But as with Control, perhaps word-of-mouth over the next year will keep Alan Wake 2 in the zeitgeist longer than most games and make it a sales success.
We asked Remedy for comment for this piece, but the studio has yet to respond.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to email@example.com.