Despite a few minor pre-launch hiccups, which sent metacritic user scores plummeting, EA is already projecting solid numbers for BioWare's highly-anticipated title, Mass Effect 3 - estimating that 890,000 copies of the game were sold in the first 24 hours (in the US alone).
EA chief executive officer, John Riccitiello, delivered the news in New York City at the Wedbush Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference - asserting that the publisher feels "awfully good" about the Mass Effect 3 launch - and future sales potential.
Solely looking at sales figures alone isn't always a good indication of whether or not a game will ultimately be profitable long term - especially in an industry where Modern Warfare 3 can sell 6.5 million copies in 24 hours (in the US and UK). However, Riccitiello made it clear that EA is very pleased with the 890K figure: "We anticipated it doing well, so we’re happy.”
While the sales figures are certainly impressive, the CEO also pointed to another especially interesting statistic - forty percent of customers who picked up Mass Effect 3 on day one at GameStop also purchased the launch DLC mission "From Ashes." According to Riccitiello, "The tie ratio at the register is the highest in [GameStop's] history.”
Sales figures will no doubt continue to rise as the title unleashes today (at the time of writing) in the UK and other international territories. That said, it'll be especially interesting to see whether the title can draw-in new gamers - since it's possible that most people who intended to buy Mass Effect 3 did so at launch. For many die-hards, the game was likely one of their most anticipated titles of the year; however, in the larger game industry (full of casual players, online FPS enthusiasts, etc), Mass Effect 3 - with a complicated sci-fi story and high bar for entry (given that new gamers would probably want to play the prior titles for the full experience) - isn't necessarily the most accessible title on the shelf.
Post-launch purchases could also be impacted by the amount of frustrated gamers who had problems importing Mass Effect save data, felt cheated by the aforementioned day one DLC content, or were outraged by a certain Tali’Zorah spoiler image - and took to online forums to express their disappointment.
Of course, any high-profile game launch has detractors and, despite a vocal minority, Mass Effect 3 buzz has been largely positive around the industry. While it may not be the biggest software launch in history, there's little doubt that ultimately, in spite of some set-backs, the game will easily turn a profit for BioWare and EA - paving the way for another Mass Effect title (be it spin-off, prequel, or sequel).
Mass Effect 3 is available now for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
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