God of War is the highest-rated new PlayStation 4 release ever, and one of the most critically-acclaimed games of all-time. But critical consensus doesn’t always translate into sales. But fortunately for Sony Santa Monica, God of War aas a massive hit in both measurements of success.
That said, God of War unsurprisingly performed very well in the digital market, racking up $131 million in digital revenue just in its launch month.
The figure, which comes from games and interactive media intelligence company SuperData, is proof that rich storytelling is still in hot-demand, despite some doomsday reports that AAA narrative-driven, single-player games are disappearing.
"The surging emphasis of rich storytelling in games is a key reason why story-driven titles are earning big.” says SuperData “During their respective launch months, The Witcher 3 earned $69M, Uncharted 4 made $56M, and God of War raked in $131M in total digital revenue. These results show that there is a significant demand for narrative experiences among gamers.”
Interestingly, God of War accumulated more launch month digital revenue than both Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt -- two games equally lauded by critics and two games that also were commercial hits -- combined. While this is an impresisve feat for the title, there could be a few reasons for this that don't simply boil down to 'God of War was more popular.'
One, God of War hit in 2018 with many more PlayStation 4's in the wild then when Uncharted 4 hit in 2016, let alone The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. However, the latter was multi-platform, so the excuse really doesn’t extend to it as much.
Two, digital is more popular than ever. Each year, the digital marketplace grows and eats away at the retail space, and the fact is, gamers are playing games digitally much more now then they were in 2015 or 2016.
Three, God of War is a bigger brand with biggest splash potential. While Uncharted is an iconic PlayStation series, it doesn’t have the same type of gravitas in the mainstream space as God of War. And this is even more true for The Witcher 3. So, in other words, Uncharted, but especially The Witcher 3, will have greatly benefited from word-of-mouth and tail-sales, where God of War was always more likely to coming bursting out of the gate.1comments
Four, Sony marketed the heck out of God of War. More than it did for Uncharted 4, and more than Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and CD Projekt Red did for The Witcher 3.
That said and game revenue comparisons aside, the ultimate conclusion that can be drawn from this report is that AA narrative-driven, single-player games aren’t going anywhere, in fact, in some cases, the market is more vibrant from them than ever, and will continue to be if more and more third-party AAA publishers chase the bigger “games as a service” space.