Lazard Capital Markets’ Senior Internet and Gaming Research Analyst Atul Bagga‘s research has found Mists of Pandaria’s sales to be disappointing. This story has spread like wildfire around the gaming sites, with the Warcraft naysayers likely having a field day with this new information.
However, looking at Bagga’s output, based on the very, very minimal information that is out in the public domain, he’s not really comparing apples to apples, as we used to say back in my days working in private equity real estate.
For starters, Bagga’s figures don’t include digital sales whatsoever. That’s right, not a single digital sale is factored in to his analysis. This is despite the fact that Mists is the first expansion that offers a digital collectors’ edition, while Cataclysm stopped at a digital download. Bagga doesn’t think that digital sales will make a sufficient impact to rectify the lower-than-average retail copies sold. This is an interesting angle, given that the digital sales’ impact on pre-orders of physical copies has meant that major retailers cite it as their reason for no longer requiring a midnight release opening.
And, put simply, digital sales mean players aren’t dependent on stores or delivery services or similar concerns to get their game installed and running the very second Mists launched. Furthermore, as a social group, we gamers aren’t renowned for going outside in the middle of the night to head to a store when an option exists that means we can stay at home!
Additionally, the Cataclysm sales figures of 3.3 million on day one, which Bagga compares the Mists physical copies sales figures to, include digital downloads, according to Blizzard’s press release at the time.
What’s more, Bagga’s figures on the retail sales are an “estimate”. What does this mean? What is this estimate based upon? If a corporation the size of Lazard are basing their capital markets actions on estimates with no back-up at all, we may have a problem.
It might not be surprising that Bagga is somewhat negative about Warcraft’s latest expansion, given his previous downgrade of Blizzard stock based on findings from an online survey of an impressive 381 gamers, and his assertions that, as sales projections can be made from the popularity of trailers, Mists will prove to be a damp squib.
Given the server queues and login difficulties that players are experiencing worldwide, it seems unlikely that only a little over 700,000 people have purchased the new expansion. It seems it would be pertinent to wait for figures with a bit more clout and a bit more backing before damning Mists to the annals of time.