This has been a year jam-packed with huge titles, and we’re only halfway through. With so many big games being released, there’s bound to be competition, especially for same-day releases. Such is the case for May 17th – the date that brought us Red Dead Redemption, Alan Wake and Split/Second. Three anticipated titles, one release day.

The NPD group reported that Alan Wake moved 145k copies and Split/Second pushed 86k copies. Not too shabby, except for the fact that Red Dead Redemption sold 1.51 million copies. That’s more than six times the amount of units sold of Alan Wake and Split/Second combined.

Those are pretty drastic numbers, but why is Red Dead Redemption that much more successful than the other two big releases that day? Well, there are a couple of factors to think about.

First off, Alan Wake is an Xbox 360 exclusive title – therefore not available on PS3. You have to assume that if it were also available on PS3, and given it’s great reviews, it might have sold another 100k or so copies. Which is still very far off from 1.51 million.

Split/Second, although a great title, is yet another racing game. It does have  a bunch of cool features that other racers don’t have, like the environmental destruction – but at the end of the day, it’s still just a racing game. There are a ton of racing titles out there, including new ones like Blur, so it’s tough to push drastic units in a genre that maintains a lot of titles and loyalty.

Red Dead Redemption had a lot of promise building up to the release. It’s developed by Rockstar Games, who are behind Grand Theft Auto, and their fans show tons of loyalty. Additionally, Red Dead Redemption is a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, so there’s a little more loyalty with that, too.

Anita Frazier from NPD touched on the sequel factor:

“What I found interesting about Red Dead is that it is the second game in the franchise. First game got middling review scores and sold good but not great — 920k life-to-date. I applaud it when a publisher can take a franchise with solid results and improve on it significantly next time out the gate.”

Moreover, the genre is full of potential. An open-world Western is an environment that grabs a lot of attention, and the game’s success proves there is an audience interested in that environment.

Take-Two Interactive’s CEO, Ben Feder, felt the same about the title’s performance:

“One thing we saw with Red Dead Redemption was that there wasn’t much room in the market for anything but Red Dead. It works in a good way and a bad way. We sucked the oxygen out of the room with Red Dead.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Red Dead Redemption is a flat out great game, as Game Rant’s review makes clear.

Overall, the formula was just right for Red Dead Redemption to ride quickly past Alan Wake and Split/Second.

What do you think of Red Dead Redemption‘s success? How do you think it would have stacked up if it was released next to titles like Mass Effect 2 or Halo: Reach?

Sources: Joystiq, Venture Beat

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