Look, I know, that headline sounds insane. The very notion of Uncharted 4 outselling Halo 5 is a bit hard to fathom. We were asked about this on the latest Throwdown Your Questions and my initial reaction was “no.” As I thought more and more about it, and as the conversation progressed, I saw that there was a very real possibility of this happening. Let’s see how Uncharted 4 could outsell Halo 5.
Let’s start with numbers. There are currently about 18.5 million PlayStation 4 consoles out in the wild and an estimated 11 million Xbox One units sold. Doing a projection based on year-over-year sales of both consoles, you could be looking at 26 million PS4s and 16 million XBOs by Black Friday 2015. This is based on averages so far. According to VGChartz, you would need all XBO owners to buy Halo 5 to match 59% of PS4 owners buying Uncharted 4. Uncharted 4 has a clear advantage just by the sheer number of PS4s in people’s homes.
During the last generation, PlayStation 3 owners were notorious for not buying console exclusive games. That’s no longer the case. inFAMOUS: Second Son sold great and The Last of Us: Remastered sold even better than that. PS4 users are hungry for exclusives this generation. It would be safe to say that most PS4 users will buy Uncharted 4, especially if Sony markets it aggressively. The Uncharted franchise doesn’t have the same level of popularity as Halo but again, the amount of PS4s out there gives it a distinct leg up. An exclusive on the level of Uncharted is one that PS4 users have been waiting for and they’ll buy it in droves in addition to all of the people who will buy PS4 consoles to play it.
We have to also take 343 Industries into account. As the saying goes, you’re only as good as your last game, and the company’s last release was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This was one of the most troubled releases of last year due to the fact that most users had problems playing the game online. Yes, the single player portion worked as intended, but the major draw for Halo fans is playing online and this was severely botched. People won’t soon forget this and may be wary of buying Halo 5 because of that. 343 needs to prove they can handle online before people can trust them again and this could impact Halo 5‘s sales.
Since we’re talking about studios, we have to bring up the obvious: Naughty Dog vs 343 Industries. 343 is a good developer but they aren’t as distinguished as Naughty Dog is. Naughty Dog has a reputation for creating stories and characters that stick with people. Look at The Last of Us and all of the critical praise it received, not to mention how Uncharted 2 impacted the industry after its release. Uncharted 4 will have Naughty Dog’s A-team behind it and it will be a game that will have the collective knowledge that the studio has acquired so far.
Let’s face it, 343 Industries is not Bungie. Bungie is a studio that has distinguished itself much in the way Naughty Dog has. They took great care of the Halo franchise. Not just with the games but with all media Halo appeared in. 343 will not be capable of this. Not because they lack talent but because they can not be as emotionally invested as Bungie. They’re being tasked with continuing the Halo series because Microsoft needs them to. I don’t doubt they’re passionate about Halo but they are doing the equivalent of raising someone else’s child and not their own. Contrast this with Uncharted 4 which is being handled by the same people that created the franchise.
With all of that said however, Halo 5 shouldn’t be counted out. Even with 343 Industries behind it and with the Xbox One’s smaller install base, this is still a HALO game and that isn’t something to be underestimated. Microsoft will use its greatest asset, money, to advertise the hell out of this game. Halo 5 ads will be everywhere you look.
We also have to take into account the bundle that will inevitably be released. Microsoft’s strategy of cutting the price of the Xbox One to $349 this past holiday season worked wonders for them and they even had another price cut as well. You better believe the Halo 5 bundle will be discounted. Halo is a system seller, there is no doubt of that, but Microsoft can do something really crazy to send consoles flying off store shelves by dropping the price to $299. If they do that then the huge gap between the PS4 and Xbox One will narrow and Halo 5 could outsell Uncharted 4.
One last thing to consider is the PlayStation Network. Naughty Dog is known for providing a stable online experience but the PSN has been having major issues on the PlayStation 4. If Sony doesn’t find a way to make sure its network is stable then this will severely impact Uncharted 4‘s sales since its longevity hinges on multiplayer.
Now obviously this is all educated speculation but if you look at things objectively, then it’s clear to see that Uncharted 4 has a great chance of outselling Halo 5. Obviously this doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things since the sales don’t really affect single console owners and both games will no doubt sell extremely well. However, the possibility of Halo 5 not being the top selling exclusive game this year is intriguing and is something we may actually witness. We’ll have to see how things play out when the games are released in the fall.