Fallout 4 and StarCraft II Sell Millions of Copies on Launch Day
I’m not sure if November 10th will go down as a landmark day in gaming history but to investors in Bethesda and Activision Blizzard, it certainly will. Both companies had their big holiday releases last Tuesday with Fallout 4 and StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, respectively. Both companies are reporting millions of units sold within hours of their games launching.
Let’s start with Blizzard as LOTV was the game that I went with out of the three that launched last Tuesday (Rise of the Tomb Raider launched as an Xbox One exclusive last Tuesday). In a cool announcement on Twitter, Blizzard announced that they sold one million copies of the final expansion to StarCraft II within 24 hours of launch. That’s a lot of minerals they got to construct additional pylons.
For comparison, that matches the number of first day sales that Blizzard reported for Wings of Liberty back in 2010. The first part of the StarCraft II trilogy was very hotly anticipated, perhaps more so than Fallout 4 though without as broad an audience of gamers, because it was released some 12 years after the original StarCraft and its expansion Brood War.
Last week’s big winner was Fallout 4. While actual sales numbers were not available, Bethesda issued a press release stating that the publisher had shipped 12 million units of the game for launch and recorded $750 million in sales. At about $60 per unit, that’s sales of 12.5 million units. The discrepancy is likely due to the revenue recorded from the Pip-Boy collector’s edition and translation from foreign currency.
There are several caveats that should be noted about that Fallout 4 number. First, units shipped does not necessarily represent units sold. Bethesda gets paid for each copy of the game sold to retailers and those retailers are the ones that see the $60 gross sales of a copy of the game sold at their store. GameSpot noted that about half of the copies of Skyrim that shipped for launch were actually sold through to consumers within 48 hours of launch.
Secondly and to that previous point, the $750 million in revenue is the gross revenue figure. For every unit sold, Bethesda will see a roughly estimated gross profit of between $15 and $25 based on my previous analysis which is dependent on the platform sold on and whether it’s a digital or physical copy sold. That means that Bethesda still got a massive gross profit of between $185 million and $315 million based on my model. It’s a wide spread but it should more than cover the costs of development and marketing, even at the low end. That also doesn’t include revenue from sales after day one, season pass revenue which won’t be recognized until Bethesda starts delivering DLC or microtransactions from the Fallout Shelter app. There’s a lot more money still to come out of Fallout 4.
As a final note, no worldwide numbers for Rise of the Tomb Raider were available as of the writing of this story.