This month saw a slight increase over last month in terms of votes, possibly thanks to E3. E3 also brought around a major paradigm shift for various games and platforms. The Wii, Wii U, PC, and PSP all saw moderate growth, while the DS, 360, and Vita saw moderate declines. The real stories, however, are the dramatic 58 point decline in 3DS points and the superb 66 point rise for the PS3.
Back in May, the 3DS had 208 points out of 853 total, crushing every other platform by 2 to 1 or more except for the PS3, which had a moderate sized edge over it. And the number one game of the month was the then unofficially named Paper Mario 3DS. Today, the 3DS has a mere 124 points.
What happened, you ask?
E3, I answer.
E3 2012 was a mixed one for Nintendo in general, but it pretty much sucked for 3DS owners. No major new games were announced, with the possible exception of a new portable Castlevania. As for the remaining already announced titles, there are a few words to be said.
You see, much of the 3DS’s support came from five 1st party titles. In no particular order, these were: Paper Mario: Sticker Star, New Super Mario Bros 2, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Animal Crossing: Jump Out. These five titles combined had over 140 points in May.
Now, it is impossible to determine exactly why each of these titles lost points over the past two months. But I’m willing to make a few guesses.
Sticker Star’s signature mechanic, stickers, was only revealed at E3. Before then, people were expecting a successor to the N64 and GameCube titles. The new mechanic, although it has some fans, drove people away rather than attracting support. Despite a prominent position in the software showcase, many people are unsure how a game where stickers are attached to every action can possibly be balanced.
New Super Mario Bros 2 suffers from the opposite problem of Paper Mario: not changing enough. To many, it looks like New Super Mario Bros for the DS with new levels and an emphasis on high scores via coins. Furthermore, the official revelation of New Super Mario Bros U diverted interest in 2D Mario platformers, particularly since that game is both on a new platform and has more new gameplay elements.
Luigi’s Mansion seemingly lost most of its support as soon as it gained the subtitle “Dark Moon.” The good news is, this does not seem to be due to the title’s own flaws. Mind you, the E3 showing did not turn many heads, thanks to a lack of new information. Luigi’s Mansion was simply never anybody’s top pick; it benefited from being lower down on a lot of peoples’ lists. As new games were shown at E3 and old ones on other platforms gained attention, it simply robbed Luigi of votes he depended upon.
Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing both shared a common problem: they never appeared at E3, and there has been little to no new information about them. As the likelihood of 2012 release diminishes, people have become distracted by more punctual games. The lack of info about Fire Emblem is infuriating because the game is already out in Japan, and had previously been announced for a 2012 release in Europe. Animal Crossing is frustrating for a different reason; it was announced two years ago, and still lacks much solid info. Other than the proper title, we’ve had little information since E3 2010.
With Nintendo not offering any new titles for the 3DS this E3, and with the old titles gathering less interest, it is up to 3rd parties to fill in the void. Unfortunately, 3rd parties seem to have avoided handheld gaming in general lately. The most notable release is the trio of 3DS games from Square Enix (Kingdom Hearts 3D, Theatrhythm, and Heroes of Ruin), which are all due for July release. Unfortunately, none of those games have garnered much interest, with the arguable exception of Kingdom Hearts, which got a surprising 16 points back in May. However, the entire trio has a combined 15 points so far. Bravely Default has also gathered some interest in the past, but what little new information has leaked out of Square Enix hasn’t blown people away. Besides, it doesn’t seem likely to come out anytime soon, something that drives people away from games in these votes.
Other than Square Enix, what big 3rd party games are on the horizon for the 3DS? A controversial Castlevania, a Scribblenauts game also coming to the Wii U, a 2D Epic Mickey game, and not much else. Sure, there are a few eventual hits like Monster Hunter 4 and the Professor Layton/Ace Attorney games, but those won’t be out for a while yet, especially in the West.
So, in conclusion, the 3DS was once a force to be reckoned with on these charts, but within just two months, has declined dramatically. It is still significant, but the decline of the big five upcoming Nintendo games for the system, combined with a lack of increased or even stable 3rd party support, has sabotaged it.
The PS3 has often been popular on VGChartz, but the July 2012 vote shows just how far that extends. About 40% of all points were for the PS3 alone. That's more than the Wii, Wii U, and 360 combined. Admittedly, the PS3 is a regular champion in this competition, but rarely by so much. Guess what happened? E3, once again.
First of all, The Last of Us was a major hit at E3 this year, with a trailer that emphasized gruesome survival style combat and great AI. Already a hit last month, it had nearly 10% of the total vote for this month's competition. For comparison's sake, The Last of Us had more points BY ITSELF than the Wii, PSP, and DS combined. From the looks of it, this game will easily top the charts for months to come.
Next off, Assassin's Creed. This game was big already, but a strong showing at multiple E3 conferences this year further boosted this title, to the point where the PS3 version alone is in 2nd place on the charts. When combining platforms, AC3 is the only title that stands a reasonable chance at dethroning The Last of Us this year.
God of War: Ascension also made a strong showing, with both single player that offers more of the same great stuff the series is known for and innovative multiplayer highlighted around or before E3. God of War is the fifth most wanted game on the charts, not combining platforms.
Other healthy performers on the PS3 include: Beyond: Two Souls, at 7th place, from the creators of Heavy Rain, which made an impressive E3 debut; Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the long awaited Square Enix title, which promises to bring the series back to its former glory; and Dmc and Tomb Raider, the reboots of popular series.
Games that did not perform particularly admirably include: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Ratchett and CLank: Frontal Assault, The Last Guardian, and Sly Cooper 4.
Surprisingly, both the Wii and Wii U saw improvements month over month, rising a combined 43 points. This was due to a moderately good E3 for the Wii U combined with surprisingly resilient support for the Wii.
Most of the support for the Wii came from two notable titles: The Last Story, which sees a July release in America, and thus is appearing here for the last time, and Epic Mickey 2, the follow up of the popular 2010 platformer. Four titles were also moderate sized hits on the Wii U, helping the platform grow month over month: New Super Mario Bros U and Pikmin 3 from Nintendo, and Assassin's Creed 3 and Rayman Legends from Ubisoft. Pikmin 3 is currently the Wii U's most anticipated product, and is tied for 9th place on the chart with Fire Emblem.
Interestingly enough, only about half of the more anticipated games on Nintendo's consoles can be considered Nintendo games. This is similar to the PS3's numbers.
Although the PC had a variety of titles as usual, only one stood out, the multiplatform game Watch Dogs. The 360 was dominated by the very popular Halo 4, and also saw plenty of votes for Tomb Raider and Borderlands 2. The Vita, without Gravity Rush, saw a notable decrease, with only Persona 4 standing out. The PSP saw a few votes this month, as people patiently wait for JRPG releases.