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HULIQ projects Bulletstorm sales figures to exceed 4.5 million

David Hughes's picture

EA’s newest I.P., Bulletstorm, presents an interesting case of a brand-new franchise emerging from a very established developer, making HULIQ’s retail sales projection somewhat challenging to accurately establish.

The lead developer on Bulletstorm is the Polish game company People Can Fly (PCF), currently owned by Epic Games (who has also been heavily involved in the development, particularly on the marketing side). Previously known for its PC first-person shooter (FPS) Painkiller, PCF was later used by Epic to construct the PC version of Gears of War. Since then, while Epic largely focused on the development of the Gears franchise, PCF has been quietly working on the unique atmosphere of Bullestorm with a heavy assist from some of Epic’s staff.

In this sense, while Bulletstorm is a brand-new sci-fi FPS, it can be roughly be considered as an offshoot of the Gears franchise in terms of its mass appeal and fan base. Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski, known for his outspoken style of promotion, has been heavily involved in marketing the new game while Gears of War 3 continues to mature for its release later in 2011. This removes some of the complexity of forecasting its sales success, unlike (for example) a brand-new I.P. from a brand-new or unknown developer.

Somewhat complicating matters, however, is that Bulletstorm is a multi-platform title - unlike the Xbox 360-exclusive release of Gears of War 2 and the upcoming release of Gears of War 3. That said, HULIQ News has seen significantly stronger demand for the Xbox 360 version of Bulletstorm in its weekly tracking charts, making it in essence a singe-platform title. This lends credence to the assumption that much of the existing Gears fanbase will carry over into this game (as well as potentially attract a wider audience by offering a new story and more arcade-style action). Part of this can no doubt also be attributed to the game sharing its February 22nd release date with the popular and PS3-exclusive FPS Killzone 3. The PC version has no doubt been hurt by using the troubled ‘Games for Windows Live’ backend rather than something like Steam, but it is difficult to make any further explanation why PC gamers have not shown more pre-order interest in the title.

The other news surrounding Bulletstorm has, of course, been the Fox News-generated controversy surrounding its content. While the backlash from the gaming press has been interesting to watch, particularly against the experts cited in the article (and those whose balanced answers were edited out of the final piece), the controversy has done nothing to affect pre-orders either positively or negatively according to HULIQ News data.

With this established, the primary guidance in forecasting sales of Bulletstorm will be the Gears franchise. Both games in the franchise have crested 6 million units in lifetime sales. The most recent, Gears of War 2, managed 5 million units in its first six months. EA’s new I.P. will be helped by being multi-platform; pre-orders have been hurt on the PS3 platform by sharing a release date with Killzone 3, but sales on the PS3 can potentially pick up after release since the game emphasizes singe-player and co-operative play rather than traditional, adversarial multiplayer. Conversely, the game may be hurt by its lack of a traditional multiplayer suite in favor of a strong campaign written by Rick Remender, online co-op, and high-score leaderboard competition.

To date, pre-orders of Bulletstorm have run largely neck and neck with Killzone 3, but HULIQ News sees greater sales potential here despite it being a new I.P. In its first six months, EA will sell 3.5 million units of Bulletstorm. By the end of its first year, it will have sold 4.5 million units. This number may increase if its new sales are not overly cannibalized by sales of used versions, as is often the case with single-player focused titles.

For comparison purposes, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter shared his prediction for Bulletstorm, expecting 2.5 million units in six months. That said, he was slightly worried at the lack of any prior version of the game to base guidance off of, suggesting he was not as willing to make the link between Bulletstorm and Gears of War as HULIQ News is.

HULIQ News issued its sales projection for Killzone 3 earlier today. You can view it here.

Update: The first public sales results for the game have come from comments by Cowan & Company analyst Doug Creutz to GamesIndustry that Bulletstorm has sold only 279,000 units as of March 1st. While it did release at the end of the month, this is rather poor for a title whose pre-orders seemed much stronger than that.

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