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Blizzard’s Diablo 3 breaking sales records to become the fastest selling PC game of all time should come as no surprise. The title, long awaited and massively hyped, sold over 3.5 million copies in its first day of release despite issues at launch, eventually breaking the 6 million mark before the week closed.
What is surprising is that Max Payne 3, Rockstar Games’ big release of the year, managed to outsell Blizzard’s much-anticipated gem in the UK. In physical copies, at least, Max Payne 3 was able to sell 8,000 more copies than Diablo 3 to the British gamers, locking on to the number one spot in UK sales charts.
While digital copies are not counted in the charts, Max Payne 3 achievement says a lot, and may be proof that new Max Payne games are a worthwhile endeavor.
The original Max Payne game was released in July 2001 for Windows and was later ported to the PS2, Xbox, Macintosh, and the Gameboy Advance. Its grit and hard-boiled atmosphere garnered much praise from prestigious gaming websites such as IGN and Gamespot, and a sequel soon followed. Subtitled “The Fall of Max Payne,” it followed in much the same vein as its predecessor. Despite positive reviews from the same major websites (although many criticized the short length), sales were unsatisfactory. According to the website VGChartz, the game eventually went on to sell 2 million across all consoles (the original sold 3.3 million) but the damage was already done. The only entry in the Max Payne series until now was a (predictably bad) movie tie-in released in 2008.
Leading up to Max Payne 3’s release, Rockstar began an aggressive advertisement campaign—a risky move, considering Max Payne is not one of the companies’ flagship series, titles that guaranteed to rake in a lot of money such as Grand Theft Auto. Also unlike Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne games (3 included) have been traditionally linear, resulting in little replay value, and relatively short game play. Max Payne 3 aims to fix this by including a multiplayer mode, lauded by critics.
Could this incentive to keep players busy after completing the story mode result in more sales? The Diablo Battle Chest was the 18th bestselling PC game of 2008, mostly due to its online mode. Online multiplayer modes seem to be the path to success. Could it be the key to Max Payne reestablishing itself as a franchise? A strong online following certainly would help the series. There is not much Max Payne fans can do, other than cross their fingers and wait. Oh, and play more Max Payne.