It should hardly be a surprise that Death Stranding is off to a slow start right out the gate. Its deliberately insane promotional strategy of being as confusing and chocked full of celebrities as possible, its meager premise of delivering packages in an empty post-apocalypse America, and its minuscule range of tone and variety all add up to make it “limited appeal”.
But the bad news gets worse when a certain somebody speaks out…
As Razorfist pointed out in his latest lambast of Hideo Kojima’s efforts, its annoyingly difficult to get real numbers about video games. Corporations like Sony somehow get away with not reporting real figures around the world, even though they’re public companies. Instead we have to rely on third party companies to reveal bits and pieces, and extrapolate the data with selective bragging points. I suggest you watch the video because it does a good job of pinpointing this issue.
Famitsu says that the game reached #1 in Japan with over 185,000 copies sold in its first week. Does this include pre-orders being fulfilled and digital copies? I don’t know. The same question could apply to the UK sales numbers, where it failed to reach the top spot. If the answer is yes to both of those questions, we should expect a big drop in the subsequent weeks, as everybody who was interested gets their copy one way or another.
After Death Stranding’s worldwide launch last week, on November 8th, the first sales numbers are now starting to roll in. In the UK, the game entered at number 2 in the charts, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare taking the first place. The game was the second biggest PS4 exclusive as well as the second biggest new IP of the year, in both cases behind Days Gone.From Metal Gear Informer
I’ve never even heard of Days Gone. Let’s look it up:
It’s pretty abysmal if Hideo Kojima can’t even beat this generic looking, done-to-death crappy “stick game” with his exciting new “strand” genre and fresh intellectual property, post-Konami.
Some major reviews have panned the game, including IGN with a 6.8/10 score, and GiantBomb with an even worse 2/5. In response, Hideo Kojima told an Italian publication that Americans were too narrow-minded and lacked the artistic sensibilities to appreciate his art. They only like shooters.
Perhaps it is a difficult game to understand for a certain type of critic and audience. In America there are many first-person shooter fans (fps) and many of them claim that Death Stranding is a different game, which may be why they didn’t put very high marks.
I always try to create new things and disputes and discussions go well, but it must be said that the Italians or the French have a different sensitivity that allows them to appreciate this kind of very original products, they are not in video games but also in the cinema.Google Translate’s rendition of the interview answer. Emphasis mine.
This answer created even more backlash as critics around the world laughed at the notion that Americans hate original ideas in gaming. Not even one negative review that I’ve seen criticized the game for being too unfamiliar, different or disorienting. Instead they were each excited to see what kind of crazy ideas Kojima would come up with, and were simply disappointed by the lackluster execution. None of them wanted it to be a shooter, and to suggest that First Person Shooters have anything at all to do with the mixed reception of Death Stranding is ignorant, insulting, and petty. It created such an immediate backlash that Sony came out with their own watered-down translation that conveniently cut out the remarks contrasting dumb Americans to cultured Italians and French people.
Even more depressing is the second week’s numbers, which ironically prove Kojima completely wrong about what audiences want.
How the hell will Hideo Kojima explain this?
Pokemon occupies not just one, but two positions above Death Stranding, along with Luigi’s Mansion 3 and FIFA 20. Are these dumb FPS games like Call of Duty? What will the next excuse be? I honestly expected Kojima to accept any criticism or troubles with the game more gracefully and professionally, all things considered. Sony jumping in to do damage control is not a good look either, and speaks to a tricky working relationship between the two of them. They wanted Hideo Kojima, and they got him!
UPDATE: Here’s a sample of what a negative review for the game looks like.
Update (Week 48)
Here’s the Japanese sales chart for week 48. Notice that the ancient game Minecraft is as high as #7 spot somehow. And look what’s missing…
Below is another chart for the same week, only here from the EMEAA (Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia I believe). The number of countries are listed, and this includes physical and digital. Notice that Death Stranding does not appear in the top 10, although there are old console-exclusive games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on it, and the ancient multiplatform Grand Theft Auto V. This is extremely bad for Sony and Kojima, since they were already bundling the game with consoles and trying to push it as their huge release. This is pretty much everywhere except the UK and America…
This is an outright disaster. There’s no way to spin this positively. Hideo Kojima’s newest game is selling terribly around the world, and can’t even compete with truly old stuff, kids games, and standbys like racing and sports. You can’t say that this is inevitable, as Grand Theft Auto V fits within the same type of category as Death Stranding but is at the #3 spot despite being out for years. But watch as people bend over backwards to make up excuses and pretend like it’s a sign of how intellectual it is, or something.