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Total War has an up-hill battle to win, Sega numbers show

The community successfully voted with its wallet
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Sega Sammy’s latest earnings report has given us a glimpse at the numbers behind the worries around its European game studios and shows that series like Total War will need to win an up-hill battle to return to form.

Both Persona and Like a Dragon have been exceeding expectations throughout all three quarters in the fiscal year 2023/24 and both set new records with their latest releases, which should pad out their numbers for the final quarter even more.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth sold one million copies in a week, making it the fastest-selling title in the series ever, while Persona 3 Reload managed the same feat, becoming the fastest-selling game in ATLUS’ history.

Sega logo in blue on white background.

Sega's latest earnings illustrate a regional divide in fortune.

Through Q3, the Persona series sold 600,000 units more than in the same timeframe in the previous year (2.67 million compared to 2.04 million), while Like a Dragon added almost one million sales under the same metrics (2.71 million compared to 1.73 million). Since we already know that both series added at least a million sales to their totals in Q4, they’ll both comfortably beat their totals for the previous year.

Contrasting this success are Sonic and Total War. Though Sonic is still unsurprisingly Sega’s most successful IP overall, the hedgehog sold “only” 5.05 million copies through Q3 compared to 6.75 million copies at this time last year.

Creative Assembly’s Total War series lost sales on the most consistent basis despite launching a new title as well as DLC, both of which were controversial within its community with a sizeable amount of users boycotting the releases:

  • Q1: 310,000 (from 420,000)
  • Q2: 870,000 (from 950,000)
  • Q3: 1.49 million (from 2.3 million)

Those numbers really illustrate why Sega has been so full of praise for its Japanese studios lately, while talking about its European subsidiaries only in the context of restructuring. While there is no danger of the Total War series going anywhere – the fact that Sega lists it as part of its four “major IPs” remains – Creative Assembly will need to find a way to bounce back to avoid further consequences.

Fortunately, it looks like that’s what’s happening at the moment – at least when it comes to public opinion. While the free High Tide update for Total War: Pharaoh as well as the price reduction of the game have so far failed to make a lasting impact on concurrent users on Steam, the buzz around the game is much more positive now, which should positively affect long term sales.

Creative Assembly’s current project, a free update to the Shadows of Change DLC for Total War: Warhammer 3 that aims to pack it with enough content to justify its high price point, has also received much praise from the community, especially after the reveal of the new Cathay content it’ll bring. We’ll have to wait and see how much of an impact that will have on sales and player numbers, but it’s clear that Creative Assembly is doing everything in its power to get back into users’ good graces – understandably, since Total War is the only IP it can expect to make money off after the Hyenas debacle from last year.

There is another aspect to this story: It shows the power a well-organized community can wield over niche series by voting with its wallet, as the saying goes. The Total War community did not back down in its demands for Creative Assembly to put more effort into the series and rethink the price-to-content ratio of its releases – and succeeded.