Elden Ring Sells Out in India Before Launch
No where close to its full potential.
Elden Ring is out this week for the PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. While pre-orders for the Bandai Namco-published title have been strong internationally, it's been a completely different story in India. So much so that it was almost impossible to get any kind of insight into pre-orders until the reviews hit and it landed with a 97 on Metacritic making it one of the highest rated games in years.
Every retailer talking to me says they've sold out on Elden Ring with no clear idea on a restock. At stores here, both PS4 and PS5 versions on disc were up for pre-order for a few months. The physical Xbox version was never planned to release here due to well, Microsoft's ongoing issues in the market (though that’s not stopping parallel imports by some smaller stores or gamers buying it digitally).
This is a remarkable change compared to how the game has been tracking prior to the review embargo lifting and the glowing scores. Up until a week ago, I'd get a quizzical look followed by "What's Elden Ring?" when I'd ask how it's been faring at stores. Barring one or two exceptions, it appears that most Indian retail had slept on Elden Ring until the very last moment. This is likely due to it not being a known quantity like FIFA or GTA.
"Until yesterday we were getting one or two orders a week," says one Delhi-based store owner on condition of anonymity fearing retribution. "That changed when reviews were out. We had over 300 enquiries. We'll probably be able to fulfil only 10 percent at best."
Soulslikes and the Indian gamer
Indian gamers are value-conscious and games in the Soulslike subgenre that developer FromSoftware make, aren't big sellers here. This results in a large section of potential buyers waiting on reviews before parting with their hard-earned money for a games outside the mainstream. Also, Bandai Namco's track record in India has been spotty at best.
The original Demon's Souls on PS3 didn't make it there owing to Bandai Namco's distributor at the time, Milestone Interactive, thinking it was not a good fit for the market.
Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 had limited releases with probably not more than a few hundred units each at launch, while Dark Souls 3's India release was so poorly bungled that even Bandai Namco had no clue.
This isn’t a problem just for FromSoftware-developed titles. Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 for PS4 moved a paltry number of units versus the quantity that was brought in. Supply chain estimates point to around 2,000 units being imported for launch day which is higher than the likely launch quantity for Elden Ring at retail in India. Nioh 2 ended up selling only at a deep discount. Just like Nioh 2 (published and distributed by Sony in India), Bloodborne, and the Demon's Souls PS5 remake only managed moving a decent amount here after discounting and price promotions.
Elden Ring India sales
So how has Elden Ring fared so far? Well, better than I anticipated. Outside of some units allocated for smaller, independent outlets, nearly all the launch stock has sold out. Some stores ended up selling out during the hours reviews went live. Roughly 25 percent of all pre-orders went to specialist game stores like Console Nation, Mcube, and MX2 Games to name a few.
If we're to assume the estimated launch quantity of around 1,500 to 1,700 units — across PS4 and PS5 is accurate, safe to say specialist retailers moved 500 of those alone. Around 60 to 70 percent of sales have been on PS5 with the rest on PS4. It's telling that Bandai Namco has less faith in Elden Ring for India, bringing in less than Sony did for Nioh 2, which is by no means a bigger game.
That said, specialist retail moving most of the stock isn't too shabby. They don't have the footprint of bigger platforms like Amazon and Flipkart, both of which locked in their orders later and took lower quantities than expected. Usually the two e-commerce giants make up around 30 to 40 percent of the retail market in India, however they don't appear as interested as they used to be.
Of pricing and missed opportunities
Furthermore, games like Elden Ring rarely have a long tail in countries like India. These games usually have strong launch weeks followed by a lull in sales before getting a price drop. The recent Dark Souls releases like Dark Souls Remastered (the Switch version never made it here as it was distributed by Nintendo, which doesn't have an India presence) and Dark Souls 3 The Fire Fades Edition seem to be popular movers on Amazon India and offline stores at lower prices (with retail bearing the burden of lower prices, not the publisher). If Bandai Namco isn't interested in supporting or growing the market in any meaningful way, the soulslike genre will remain a niche.
Granted not every company has the marketing muscle of Sony or Ubisoft, both of which have grown the larger RPG market through brute force and canny use of IP it's sad that even the basics of getting review codes out to local media and streamers hasn't happened in line with the rest of the world, forget larger marketing efforts like branding an entire double-decker bus.
Sure, a game can sell on hype alone, but if you are relying on just the Metacritic score and online word of mouth, your missing out on growing a brand in the country. Most retailers didn’t even know George RR Martin was involved in this release. That would’ve helped given how popular Game of Thrones was in India.
Other interesting insights from the Indian games market:
Nova Pink, Galactic Purple, and Starlight Blue PS5 controllers will finally make it to India at a price of Rs. 6,390 which is nearly 40 percent more expensive than buying Elden Ring on PS5 here. There’s no clarity on PS5 faceplates pricing or colours just yet.
Horizon Forbidden West continues to be a strong seller at retail in India with demand equally split between the PS4 and PS5 version. The former appears to be out of stock in some parts of the country. This is likely due to enterprising stores re-exporting stock to other territories to take advantage of India's pricing and the fact that it's a free PS5 upgrade.
The Horizon Forbidden West Regalla and Collector's Editions should still make it here sources tell me. The reason for the delay is likely due to the batteries present in these versions, which would need some form of BIS certification.
NIntendo Switch-exclusive Pokemon Arceus Legends has proved to be a steady seller despite Nintendo's lack of an India presence with some stores clocking in sales in excess of 100 units a week. This might not seem much given the juggernaut franchise’s sales internationally, but the numbers are great given the premium price and the fact that the consoles are not sold here offiically.