Can Sunset Overdrive’s Reviews Drive Sales of the Game and the X1?

MS going for Sony's move with the white console exclusive game combo

Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive is now available, and based on early review scores it’s shaping up to be a critical hit, but will that translate to high sales numbers and Xbox One purchases?

It’s too early to tell if the game will be a financial win for MS and Insomniac Games, but I fear that the over-the-top and in-your-face marketing campaign may limit the game’s full sales potential. Even with the high review scores (currently hovering around an 82 on Metacritic, we gave it a 90) many gamers are still on the fence about purchasing the game; you just have to look in the comments section on N4G to see this troubling trend. It appears many gamers wanted to wait on the official reviews to trickle in, which by design means Sunset may not sell well during its first week of being in the wild, but many are still perplexed about what the game really has to offer.

Again, I credit this to the energy drink infused marketing campaign that really didn’t do the game’s mechanics justice. Most of the ads seemed like someone dropped acid, jacked up the volume on their favorite punk rock station, and then threw random clips into a movie editor and hit publish. None of them focused on the key mechanics of Sunset Overdrive, which is its traversal-based gameplay, and whacky cast of memorable NPCs. Sure you would get a sprinkle of the gameplay in said commercials, but they usually only showed rail grinds and standard third-person shooter action that doesn’t really appear to set the game’s content apart from other open-world shooters.

Just one example of Sunset's colorful cast of characters
Just one example of Sunset’s colorful cast of characters. He’s a LARPer!

Its gameplay truly is unique, and one of the main reasons many of us critics had so much fun playing through the campaign and the game’s Chaos Squad mode, but if you haven’t watched any Let’s Plays, and have only based your opinion on the various trailers and commercials, then you probably think this game is for ADD riddled minds that can’t focus on one thing for more than five seconds. I’ll be honest, going into the review I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by what Sunset Overdrive had to offer based on the content I saw at E3 and the other gaming trade shows, and this too is because the game just never felt like it was pitched properly. After spending some time with it and mastering its traversal-based gameplay, I became a fan, and finally saw Insomniac Games’ vision for it, and ultimately loved the experience.

Unfortunately, I think most gamers, especially those who aren’t privy to review copies, all felt the same way, which more than likely will stall the game’s first week sales, therefore making it look like a bust. This is all conjecture though, because the game just went live today, so official sales numbers aren’t in. I’m just hypothesizing over what I’ve gleaned from commenters on other sites, as well as those who left their opinion on my review of the game (see below). It appears many people have been interested in it, especially since it’s an Xbox One exclusive, but they just weren’t completely sold on it to make a pre-order or day one purchase.

I must say the hype has snuck up on me for this game..Glad to see it getting praised after their last game was generic as hell – Rob Hester

Rob’s comments echo what I’ve seen from other gamers. They knew Sunset Overdrive was coming, they just didn’t get the hype around it, nor did they expect it to pay off. Honestly, for the game being an Xbox One exclusive, I don’t think the hype train was as massive as it could’ve been, which could be another reason gamers just didn’t realize its potential.

MS going for Sony's move with the white console exclusive game combo
MS going for Sony’s move with the white console exclusive game combo

Surely MS inked this deal to help maintain a solid list of exclusives for the Xbox One, hoping that it would move some units this fall, but based on the same reasons why the game may not sell like hotcakes, I too believe that it ultimately won’t drive gamers to stores to buy an Xbox One to play it on. Granted, the new white Xbox One bundle with a copy of Sunset Overdrive may sell just for the fact that the console is white and gamers want something unique, but I’m not entirely sure these bundles will sell just because the game is included. MS is doing its damnedest to push more units by lowering the cost of the Xbox One by $50 starting November 2, 2014, which should help to add a few more units to its total, but I just don’t see Sunset Overdrive, not through any fault of its own, coercing 3 million gamers to go out and buy a shiny new Xbox One. That’s the figure the company needs to get inline with the impressive PS4 console sales to date.


Gamers in general should hope that Sunset Overdrive does financially well, not because of MS’s coffers, but to encourage developers to take risks on new IPs. If games like Sunset Overdrive, which is totally worth playing, fail to meet financial projections, not only will developers avoid them like the plague, but more and more studios will be shut down due to budget cuts and devastating financial losses. We will be left with more and more sequels of popular franchises, and new developers will never be able to bring their creative ideas to fruition out of fear of bankruptcy.

If you were on the fence about Sunset Overdrive, or still are on the fence about making a purchase, what is the biggest motivation behind your decision? Let us know by leaving a comment down below. We’re also hosting a giveaway for the game, so if you want to try to win a copy you can register through this post.


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Tags : Insomniac GamesSunset OverdriveXbox One Exclusives
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.