StarCraft II sold over 1.5 million copies during the first 48 hours after release, according to reports from Activision Blizzard earlier this week. Yet despite these record-breaking numbers, analysts are noting that sales aren’t quite living up to expectations.
According to investment group Lazard Capital’s analyst Colin Sebastian, "[T]his number is light of some forecasts, [but] we view this as largely a U.S./Europe number, with the majority of users in Korea still not reflected in the count." Sebastian notes that distribution models in Korea are often different than in the West, where users typically purchase a game outright, at or near launch. As a result, U.S. and European sales tend to be "front-loaded" towards heavy sales at launch that trail off fairly quickly.
In comparison, even for games like StarCraft II (which is something of a national pastime in Korea), Koreans are more likely to purchase a game after launch, or pay for access through a LAN center, or even pay for the game using time cards. Korean sales, therefore, can be expected to remain strong for longer periods of time, but to start off much more slowly than in the U.S.
Sebastian predicts that overall sales of the game could reach 4 million users in the first couple of months, and up to 6.5 million users within a year.
Dan Rosenthal is lawyer and analyst for the video games industry