While reviews for Dead Space generated some positive buzz, there’s still always a question mark that follows the release of virtually any new, unproven IP.
However, one analyst says that the EA Redwood Shores-developed game has likely exceeded U.S. retailers’ and EA’s own sales expectations.
In his NPD preview, Jesse Divnich with Electronic Entertainment Design and Research believes the game, released on October 14, sold 470,000 during its opening month in the U.S.
"Based on our data, both retailers and EA were likely expecting sales in 400,000 range for the first month in the U.S.," Divnich told Edge.
"We believe all of the upside came from the high quality scores. This situation is identical to last year’s big hit, BioShock, which didn’t really pop onto a lot of consumers radar until the quality scores came in."
Perhaps the broader issue with Dead Space’s expected performance is the impact that game reviews can have on sales, particularly in the case of new IP.
"…No publisher ever expects a game to achieve review scores above 90 percent," claimed Divnich. "Typically, games that achieve a quality score above 90 percent sell three times more than games in the 80 to 89 percent range.
"It is simply just way too risky for a publisher to assume that quality scores will surpass that mark, and because of that, they cannot assume they will get a sales lift either."
Dead Space, released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, is currently earning an 89 percent on Metacritic, with some sites giving the game a perfect score.
Divnich said that supplies for the game ran low in Dead Space’s first week, indicating that EA and/or retailers were conservative with their supply figures.
Despite the game’s apparent success Divnich said the title may have suffered from cannibalized sales. In a research note, he stated, "Dead Space, a game with excellent quality scores, managed to sell well the first week, but retail channel checks at specialty retailers indicated a higher than normal amount of trade-ins after the first week of release. This is likely due to the title’s short gameplay and the core gaming markets urge to pick-up the next big AAA title."
NPD Group is expected to release monthly sales data on November 13.