There were several factors that contributed to the 12 million copies of “Elden Ring” being sold worldwide in the first three weeks after its release, a staggering sales figure typically achieved by industry giants such as the Call of Duty or the Pokémon series.
“Elden Ring” is essentially a sequel to Software’s Dark Souls series, which actually started with 2009’s PlayStation 3 “Demon’s Souls.” The New York Times article describes the Dark Souls series as a “modest success,” which is a fair analysis considering only its sales history. By comparison, in three weeks, “Elden Ring” had sold nearly half of the sales of the entire Dark Souls trilogy.
But this line of reasoning ignores the fact that “Demon’s Souls” and Dark Souls games have left an indelible mark on the gaming industry. From software titles become antiquities to a game design style that focuses on overcoming challenges with a keen focus, an understanding of the game’s esoteric rules and platforms, and sometimes, by calling on friends for help through online cooperative play.
Dark Souls may have had a modest sales success, but it is without a doubt one of the most influential games of the century. It has crystallized an entire sub-genre of gaming, now called “spirit-like”, and some of the industry’s most popular intellectual property have followed in its footsteps. Its control schemes have been emulated in hits like Sony’s “God of War” (2018) and the last three games in the Assassin’s Creed series.
Moreover, last year “Dark Souls” won a Golden Joystick for “Ultimate Game of All Time”. The respected European gaming magazine Edge once called it the greatest game of all time. All of this success, apart from sales figures, is hard to describe as “modest”.
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All this has been achieved despite the fact that the Dark Souls games – and now, the “Elden Ring” – present a notable challenge. Without compromising its original vision, From Software has focused on tweaking its formula in each successive game to find more ways to empower the player.
Game design during the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 console generation began to shift toward high-resolution graphics, which meant a stronger focus on presentation. This focus on big budgets and presentation has also led to games that make the player feel like an audience for the actions rather than a participant. By contrast, the “Demon Souls” and Dark Souls trilogy kept the player engaged by stepping up challenges and building worlds and stories that often needed to be deciphered rather than passively consumed.
of software that has maintained consistent quality over the past decade has propelled the nascent Japanese studio to the top tier of video game developers in the world. When it announced “Elden Ring,” a new intellectual property, in 2019, there was little doubt among fans that it would be a very high-quality game.
Oral speech was also a strong factor. Games are designed from the ground up to be mysterious; They offer wildly different experiences for different types of players. The program’s games include online functionality, where players see the “ghosts” of other players struggling, adding to the sense that players are suffering together, as part of a single growing community (and moaning). As YouTube video columnist Noah Caldwell Gervais said, in his latest five-hour analysis of the Dark Souls trilogy, he “pushed his wife into the wall” because he couldn’t stop talking about the game. That’s because Dark Souls games are intensely personal experiences that feel thrilling and triumphant, and it’s hard not to share that excitement with the people you love.
The emergence of video game influencers on YouTube, Twitch, and other social media platforms has added more fuel to the series’ popularity. As more of these famous players discover the series, their enthusiasm is palpable.
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This cycle continued with the “Elden Ring”. Comedy and entertainment group RDCWorld decided to try the series for the first time when the latest game was released. Now, they can’t stop streaming and playing it. “Angry” Joe Vargas, a longtime YouTube game critic, recently scored the game in the top 10, despite his history of avoiding the Dark Souls trilogy.
“Elden Ring” has topped the “Most Anticipated Games” lists over and over again in 2021 — and later postponed, 2022. Since its announcement, it’s been a popular ad about Game Awards host Jeff Kelly, who was asked to reveal even a morsel of information about the “Elden Ring” before its issuance. When he finally revealed the game’s first trailer at last year’s Summer Games Festival event, he announced, “I’m free!”
So no, the success of “The Elden Ring” didn’t come out of thin air, and it certainly had nothing to do with quarantines, lockdowns, or existential malaise inspired by the global pandemic.
The success of “Elden Ring” had all that had to be done, instead, with how its developers designed and iterated on a successful formula over the past 11 years. And once that formula clicks, it can’t be denied that it resonates with gamers. “Elden Ring” is a triumph and a milestone in the video game industry. So, you can thank the people who made the game, the people who play it – not the circumstances.