Over One-Third of Fire Emblem: Awakening Sales Digital

Friday, March 15th, 2013

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Fire Emblem: Awakening box art

Recent numbers from the NDP Group show Fire Emblem: Awakening is the strongest release for the series in the United States. The game, developed by Intelligent Systems, has sold more than 180,000 units, with over 63,000 of that total distributed digitally through the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Despite the strong digital showing, retail sales for the game were not enough to make the top 10 retail games of February 2013. Last year, Fire Emblem: Awakening sold 242,600 units during its first week in Japan.

Fire Emblem: Awakening has been very well-received critically, as you can read in our review, and for now is the top reviewed game of 2013 on both Metacritic and GameRankings for home and portable game consoles. Gamers in Europe will soon be able to experience the deep tactical RPG for themselves when it is released on April 19 with an exclusive 3DS XL bundle. Nintendo plans to support the game with downloadable content well into the future, adding value to a game already packed with gameplay on its own.

While Fire Emblem: Awakening suffered shipping delays that likely hurt physical sales, the game represents a continued push in the video game industry towards digital distribution. Along with high sales on Nintendo’s eShop, the game offers some of the most ambitious extra content the publisher has ever offered online. With the rising impact of digital distribution on overall sales, NPD has committed to include this new revenue stream in their monthly reports. However, their monthly sales reports still only include retail sales, with occasional estimates for other sources, including used games, mobile games, and digital content. While all sales tracking is more or less an estimate, NPD struggles to accurately track the rising force of digital distribution, since obtaining data for sales figures often relies on publishers that sell their games directly to consumers, as is the case with Nintendo and Fire Emblem: Awakening.

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About Raymond Dwyer

Former Contributor--Raymond is an architect in Chicago who has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. For all that the city offers, he mostly prefers sitting down to a good game when he can spare the time. Buildings look better rendered than they do in real life anyway.




  • Bob

    Imagine how well the game would have sold if it had ANY physical copies made. Tons of people who want it don’t have it yet because it’s so hard to find.

    Come on Nintendo, grow a brain!

    • Nintendo said there were no physical copies in retail stores because the publisher fucked up (guess who the publisher is). That’s the best way to con people into buying digital copies and lock their purchases, denying a second hand market.
      They did grow a brain, alright.

    • Bob

      Tons of people DIDN’T buy the digital version though (and are stuck not being able to find the game), because they’re not idiots who will pay the same amount for a lesser product (yes, I AM indeed saying that everyone who bought it digitally is dumb). I’d wager sales overall would have been at least 50% higher by now if they had just made proper amounts of physical copies and didn’t force this digital BS on everyone.

    • smacd

      And how exactly is the digital version “inferior”, other than that you can’t sell it or play it on multiple 3DS consoles?

      Honestly the only “inferior” thing related to Fire Emblem was that the 3DS bundle wasn’t an XL in the US, after the XL had already been released here.

    • bleachedsnow

      I think the capability of playing on multiple 3DS consoles is very important though. What if your 3DS breaks? Where does that Fire Emblem go? If I remember correctly, purchases from the eShop aren’t account based. And you’re paying the same price as a physical copy, so might as well get one.

    • smacd

      Well, there is the system transfer. And I’ve read that its possible to move them from one SD card to another, which should mitigate all but obliterating the system.

      But that said, digital distribution is the way of the future. I’d be shocked if the next generation of handhelds and the generation of consoles coming following the PS4 and Xbox 720 use physical media at all (and I’m honestly surprised the PS4 and probably 720 do at this point).

    • “And how exactly is the digital version “inferior”, other than that you can’t sell it or play it on multiple 3DS consoles?”
      I’m pretty sure you just answered your own question there.

    • smacd

      Might want to get used to it. This is very likely the last generation with physical media at all. Steam, PSN and XBLA have shown that digital-only distribution is a very viable model. However, Nintendo at this point has proven to be completely incompetent with regard to their online strategy.

      Further, one could argue that the physical copy is “inferior”, because you could break or lose the card, you need to store a physical object, and you can only have one in your system at a time.

    • It all comes down to preference really. The things I listed clearly aren’t as important to you, and the things you listed aren’t important to me. I have never broken/lost a game, I love storing them because I’m a collector, and I don’t care at all about switching discs/carts out.

      You’re obviously right that, eventually, physical media will disappear, but I am firmly in the camp who wants to delay that as long as possible.

  • maybe because finding a hard copy its almost impossible?

  • Digital distribution, it’s the way of the future!

  • bleachedsnow

    Honestly, if Nintendo made more physical copies of the game, the digital sales would be a lot lower. And there would probably be more units sold overall because some people are still holding out for a physical copy.

    • I know I was one of those people, I want the game on cart simple as that.

  • But the question is: Is 180,000 good? Did it sell well enough?

    • It depends on what the budget of the project was, and what Nintendo was expecting, which of course only Nintendo knows, but for a portable game that has experienced shortages and relies far more on Japanese sales than anything overseas I’d assume that yes it’s doing very well.

  • Except that the game was out of stock everywhere.

    Went on a hunt about 2-3 weeks ago, and visited 6 outlets, from 2 EB games, 2 Walmarts, and 2 Best Buys. No luck.

    Even in asking they said everytime they got a shiipment they only ever got 2 copies. Basically a ridiculously small amount.

    By pure luck this week I was back in at EB games to pick up Heart of the Swarm and they actually had another 2 copies in of the game.

    Many friends and internet goers the like have said the struggle to find a phsyical copy themselves has been hard, and many even resorted to digital copies. I don’t know if NOA was purposely creating scarcity of the game, or if they simply didn’t believe it could sell 200,000 units.

    I know Reggie doesn’t have any faith in the Japanese RPG market so it wouldn’t surprise me.

  • madmofo145

    Oddly while I was about to complain as well about a lack of physical copies, doing a quick search shows it in stock in various places both online and in town. I’m actually going to head out and see if I can pick up a copy. Perhaps the drought is over?

    • madmofo145

      I found my copy and still see many around. To those lacking, look again, they can be found.