News Article

Talking Point: What Went Wrong with PlayStation All-Stars?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Worse for wear

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is an excellent game. It may lack polish in areas – the menus in particular are some of the worst we’ve ever seen – but the core gameplay is superb. Developer SuperBot Entertainment clearly invested a lot of time into making each character’s fighting style unique, and it results in a brawler that’s as entertaining to watch as it is to play.

However, despite a slew of positive reviews – including a firm thumbs-up from the website you’re reading – the game is struggling to make an impression at retail. Alarm bells were sounded when the PlayStation 3 and Vita exclusive failed to chart higher than 38th on the UK sales charts during its debut week. Concerns were compounded yesterday, when the title skipped the European PlayStation Network charts entirely. For a title that’s been promoted as a PlayStation heavyweight, that’s disappointing.

Sadly, it sounds like the game is not faring much better in North America either. Unsubstantiated (but reliable) sources citing NPD data claim that the game managed to sell just 88,000 units in November. Even though the brawler launched right at the end of the month, that number’s still well below par.

Granted, the title did make an appearance on the North American PSN charts – debuting in fifth on PS3 and sixth on Vita – but the positions are meaningless without hard data to back them up. Sony claims that the title is selling as expected – which is poorly according to the numbers quoted above. So what’s gone wrong?

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale always looked like it was going to rely on Sony’s most faithful fans to make it a success

The game’s commercial woes are hard to gauge. Blaming marketing would be a cop out, as the fighter has commanded a huge presence on the PlayStation Blog, IGN, and websites just like this one in the months leading up to launch. Furthermore, it enjoyed stage time at E3, was debuted during an episode of Game Trailers TV, and was playable at virtually every trade-show around the globe. While that’s not enough to guarantee sales outside of hardcore circles, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale always looked like it was going to rely on Sony’s most faithful fans to make it a success. Who else would get excited over the return of PaRappa the Rapper, after all?

Naturally, that brings us to the subject of the roster. It’s true that the likes of Kratos and Nathan Drake aren’t household names to the degree of Super Mario and Sonic, but these are not unpopular characters like some critics would have you believe. God of War sales in particular average over 4 million units per mainline entry, while Uncharted is not too far behind. With both franchise’s main characters strongly represented in the game’s marketing materials – alongside the protagonists of other popular brands such as Metal Gear Solid and BioShock – it’s hard to imagine the roster being a deterrent. But with many of the characters typically associated with mature brands, perhaps the genre is the problem. The audience that laps up each entry of God of War is unlikely to be taken by a game that features anthropomorphic animals and a burlap doll. Conversely, the families that purchase Ratchet & Clank are less likely to gobble up a title that stars a murderous ice-cream man.

This is an issue that Nintendo doesn’t have to deal with. While Super Smash Bros has its fair share of adult characters, the majority of the cast prescribe to a uniform style that either taps into childhood memories or feels safe for families. The problem isn’t necessarily the popularity of Sony’s characters, more the jarring manner in which they come together.

Of course, we’d argue that’s one of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale’s greatest assets – but it’s easy to see how it could affect the title’s performance at retail. Another issue is timing. With blockbusters such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Assassin’s Creed III, and Far Cry 3 launching during the same period, it’s not hard to imagine the fighter slipping down most gamers’ wishlists. In truth, there’s only so much disposable income (and time) consumers have to invest – and it’s likely that SuperBot Entertainment’s debut succumbed to the sheer wealth of alternative experiences available.

Leaks and poor preparation clearly didn’t help the title’s cause either. While there was always a fanbase eager for more information on the game, Sony failed to service that at times. When it did announce new characters, it ensured that the word got out quickly – but hastily cut trailers and long periods of silence meant that the game failed to hog the limelight in the manner that it perhaps should have done. Furthermore, the evolving nature of the development itself meant that the title didn’t look its best until a few short weeks before release.

And yet, these comparatively elaborate theories threaten to overlook the most obvious answer of them all: perhaps people just don’t want a fighting game with PlayStation characters. The idea itself feels like it’s been kicking around since Sir Daniel Fortesque’s knighthood, but far too often we long for things that don’t actually exist.

When all’s said and done, we sincerely hope that the title picks up steam. SuperBot Entertainment’s crafted a stellar starting point, and it’s something we’d selfishly like to see revisited in the future. Imagine a sequel augmented with more stages, characters, and items than in the current build. That’s a game that we want to play – but the market may render it a pipe-dream.

Have you purchased PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale yet? If not, what's prompted you to skip the game? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (49)

Kayoss

#1

Kayoss said:

Honestly I think the mainissue is timing. They released the game afterr AC3, cod black ops 2, and halo 4. Most people will be too invested with those games of course they won't have time to play any other games. Another big issue is that the Nintendo Wii u was release around the same time. Sony have really bad release dates and timing.

Paranoimia

#2

Paranoimia said:

There is another option, of course. Perhaps PlayStation owners generally just aren't interested in this type of game; I know I'm not. When I was a kid I wasn't interested in Nintendo or this type of game, and as I got older and PlayStation arrived, I was interested in it precisely because it offered games that weren't like those Nintendo offered. I suspect many other PlayStation owners are of a similar mindset, and consequently there just isn't much of a market for this type of game on the format.

Sonomin

#3

Sonomin said:

I personally didn't really like the game all too much. It's decent, but it's just no where near as good as Smash Bros.. I just think that the way you get kills ruins it for me..

IAmNotWill

#4

IAmNotWill said:

I agree with MrNiceGuy. From what I played (beta), I wasn't impressed at all, and neither was my cousin who I played multiplayer with.

It's an ok game, but nothing I'd pay $60 for. I'll stick to Smash Bros.

NintendoNaut

#5

NintendoNaut said:

When people think of an excellent brawler they think Smash Bros. This game, instead of doing something new and noteworthy, is just trying to be Smash Bros. on PS3 and it doesn't even come close to achieving that goal.

Azikira

#6

Azikira said:

I purchased it while the Alternate Costumes were still being advertised off the Playstation Network. 3 weeks and 2 calls later, I still haven't gotten the code. The game itself is fantastic and I REALLY enjoy it (those who played the original beta will agree full heartedly), I am just annoyed at the customer service I have recieved.

Azikira

#7

Azikira said:

-By the way, to everyone who player the beta's-
They are NOT an accurate representation of what the game turned out to be, and were full of glitches and just not all that fun to play. I can gladly say I do not regret my purchase because it's much more polished and fun then any of the betas portrayed.
Perhaps they should release a demo of the full version so people can actually SEE the difference?

lvnlavitaloca

#8

lvnlavitaloca said:

The game is awesome, i love it. I never liked smash brothers because i always felt the matches were random. I almost didn't get this because i didn't like smash brothers, and I'm glad i tried it because it is awesome. I hope more people give this a chance.

hamispink

#9

hamispink said:

@Nintendonaut I'm not sure if you've played the game, but It doesn't really play anything like smash bros. Its a faster paced game, and the super system for kills is more fair than smash bros stage falls(though it's arguable whether it's more fun).
I'd say comparing smash bros to all stars is like comparing Monster hunter to Ragnarok Odyssey. Monster hunter is slow and all about timing, while Ragnarok is fast paced and heavily based on combos.

Epic

#10

Epic said:

Im going to pick this one up after a price drop.
I loved beta but couldnt pull off 60 bucks for this game.

Ginkgo

#12

Ginkgo said:

Personally, this type of game just doesn't interest me at all. But then I missed a nostalgia gene somewhere.

I also kinda feel that the whole fighter genre is dated and stuck in the 80s, just with better graphics. Sure they have got better, but nothing fundamental has really changed. Fans of the genre will probably disagree with me.

get2sammybAdmin

#13

get2sammyb said:

@NintendoNaut That's not true, though. The only way this game is similar to Super Smash Bros. is that it plops for first-party characters on an arena and moves are initiated with a single button and direction. Other than that, it's completely different to Nintendo's game.

Zombie_Barioth

#14

Zombie_Barioth said:

My only problem with the game was how each attack was set to different buttons and each button had 2-3 different attacks, it just over complicated things in my opinion even compared to traditional fighting game combos.

Otherwise it was a pretty good game based on what I played of the beta, just not my cup of tea.

ohhaime

#16

ohhaime said:

I think it's because the game is mediocre at best.I won the game from the Twitter contest,and I'm glad I didn't have to pay for it.

The single player modes are so easy that's it's insulting.The complete lack of challenge make them pretty much throw away. I was able to beat the arcade mode on the hardest difficulty with Toro the very first time I started the game and I only lost the first match once when I didn't know what his moves were.

All the characters feels too slow to me and all the combos are too simple with most move knocking enemies out of your reach not allowing you to follow up.

There is hardly any semblance of balance between the characters in terms of Speed,AP generation and Super Attacks.Most characters don't even have their own Supers balanced.Most Level 3 attacks are useless. Some characters have level one or two supers that can potentially clear a whole screen and some can barely hit one foot in front of them.

The scoring system rewards playing recklessly without caring if you die as long as you get a kill.

The fact that there is no cross-save really annoys me. Why give both versions of the game if you have to choose between them?(EDIT: It turns out it does have cross save.)

And I don't know if anyone else has this problem but every time I tried to play online on my PS3(which has a wired connection) the lag has made it unplayable.But when I play on my Vita (wirelessly of course) it is usually not great but playable.

In my opinion this game is only for people who are big enough fans of the characters to over look the gameplay that at best I would called flawed.

Gemuarto

#17

Gemuarto said:

I wanted this game to be more like Dissidia with 3D gameplay. In it's current condition it looks more like mobile game. And it's hard to feel connection with choosen characters.

irken004

#18

irken004 said:

Well I grabbed AC3 a couple weeks ago and expect to get this game for Christmas, so AC3 will last me a good while until then :P

Gamer83

#19

Gamer83 said:

Great game, I actually like it more than SSB Brawl, but the timing really was bad and I do think the fact it looks so similar to Smash doesn't help. The thinking of a lot of people might be, why play a copy when I can play the real thing? It might be one of those games that picks up steam as time goes on if enough people play it, really like it and spread the word but it seems like with PS3 exclusives there's been a lot of hit and miss with sales. And even if this game came out before the big releases kicked off with AC 3 I doubt it would've done blockbuster sales numbers. I think most people look at those other games as sure things where as this one it seems many see a straight-up copy of Smash minus iconic characters like Mario and Link.

MadchesterManc

#20

MadchesterManc said:

Ive never been interested in SSB n during the whole time I had a Wii I never tried it, I tend to avoid games with mario on the cover as hes outstayed his welcome for me lol When I tried the beta for PS Allstars I actually enjoyed it. Maybe I should've tried SSB but in all honesty the character set puts me off. Even if Nintendo got Hal Jordan id still skip it. Ive not picked up PS Allstars due to the timing n its probably the same for most. Im playing DCuniverse n Warhawk on PS3 n Halo4 on 360 so I dont have time for another game yet. Ill get PS Allstars after christmas. The cross-play makes it a cert ill be able to play with friends more often than not

evildevil97

#21

evildevil97 said:

No Crash or Spyro, no buy from me. They almost ignored the PS1 era entirely, and that's the era I care about! There's what, two characters in the game from that? (Three if you count Sweet Tooth, but I hesitate to since he's probably more based on the recent reboot.)

rjejr

#23

rjejr said:

They should have made Sephiroth the final boss ;-)

Kidding aside, what Gamer83 said - timing and everybody already owns Brawl. If they would have gone the 3D Powerstone route, which makes sense as a lot of these are 3D characters, I think it would have been different enough to generate more sales. Guess we'll find out as I'm sure people will compare this to the GOW Ascension multiplayer.

MadchesterManc

#24

MadchesterManc said:

@MrNiceGuy Not at all. I haven't stated an opinion on SSB, just that Ive not tried it due to its character set holding no interest to me. Judging a game Ive not played would be idiotic which is why Ive not expressed an opinion of it

Yankeejer

#25

Yankeejer said:

Price tag is just too high for a game of this caliber. I am waiting for the game to come down to around $20

ztpayne7

#29

ztpayne7 said:

I actually was hesitant after playing the beta, but bought it day one on a splurge. I was really happy with my decision. I do agree that the single player is too easy - but I really enjoy the rest of the game. You'll note I said was - about a week and a half into it, my ps3 ylod'd. Ah well.

ztpayne7

#31

ztpayne7 said:

@get2sammyb
I'm working on it. this guy actually fixed it once and said if I wanted it to be permanent I should replace the fan--didn't listen. it's under warranty, so i'll just add the fan this time. should be back by the end of next week.

rastamadeus

#32

rastamadeus said:

As I said the other day the game is just not fun, te beta wasn't fun and no trailers made it look fun beforehands. A game should be fun above all else. It's always looked a mess and it's boring as hell. A massive shame and a huge missed opportunity.

Squiggle55

#33

Squiggle55 said:

The beta turned me off as well. Simple as that. I suppose I was unlikely to pay full price for the game to begin with. But the beta certainly didn't help their case for me personally. I like the control and gameplay (and characters honestly) of SSB better. For those reasons I wasn't convinced that I need this game.

Slapshot

#34

Slapshot said:

I don't have the time to read all of the comments above at the moment, but firstly Sammy - great article!

The issue that I see, was the Beta - it should have never happened. The character selection was weak, at best, and the ones it did allow you to play as showcased the balancing issues within the game (which was balanced for the most part in the final release). Also, unlike with DUST 514, we never saw real improvements in the beta either - so you never got a real idea of what the final game was actually like.

I was put off by the beta and had no intention of buying it. On Black Friday, I went to grab Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Vita and Battle Royale was sitting right beside it and I was like, 'what they hey - I'll give it a go. I want something different to play any ways."

Needless to say, I'm really glad that I picked it up. The final product wasn't reflected by the beta and if your not picking it up because of this, you should go ahead and grab it - you will be very glad that you did.

monkats

#35

monkats said:

I am uninterested in the game specifically because of the roster. SSB has a varied roster of cartoony characters that give off a magical atmosphere.

Around 12 (depending on what you consider) of the characters in the roster are white men. That's over half. If I wanted to play as people, I would buy a real fighting game.

hamispink

#36

hamispink said:

@ohhaime It does support cross-save, it's automatic. When you play either version and you're signed in, your progression and unlocks are carried over to both versions.

Kage_88

#37

Kage_88 said:

I admit that I was hard on the game when it was initialy (officially) revealed. I called it a Smash Bros. rip-off, and yet another example of Sony's 'me too' mentality.

After buying the game, and playing it - I stand by those statements. People who refer to Powerstone or Dream-Mix TV Fighters as PROOF that Nintendo did not 'invent' the mascot mash-up genre have missed the point entirely. PSASBR is not a rip-off because Smash Bros. was the first game of its kind - but because it was clearly designed by Sony as a reaction to Nintendo's series.

This was made all the clearer to me as I played through the title; little things like an unbalanced roster, a flawed fighting system, and an alarming lack of unlockables - these all point to a developer and publisher wanting to emulate the Smash Bros. experience, but simply not understanding how to craft it. Also, what the hell did Seth Kilian even do?

Now, with all that said - I still enjoyed the game to an extent. The choice of characters are great; and the super moves are wonderful visually. In addittion, the fighters feel GOOD to control - which is definitely an important accomplishment. I look forward to the game's slim pickings being bolstered by future DLC.

Maybe now that Superbot have laid the foundations, they can create an Orbis sequel stuffed with extras...

turtlelink

#40

turtlelink said:

The only thing that went wrong was people refusing to let Sony make a game in a genre Nintendo apparently "created".

Seriously, you never hear people complain about every other 2D fighter ripping off Street Fighter, so why this?

Drone17

#42

Drone17 said:

PSABER is not SBB, remeber that SSB is an old franchase and their creators have lot experience while this game is a 1st with time PSABER will become better and shall distinguished itself from others. I love the game, so give it a chance.

moomoo

#43

moomoo said:

I decided to do a little research and ask my PS3-owning friends what kind of Sony characters are out there. One named a couple with Nathan Drake and Ratchet & Clank. Another said Crash, Spyro, Solid Snake and some Final Fantasy characters (LOL because they aren't in the game). Most couldn't name a single one. That's its problem. Most people with PS3's don't know too much about Sony brands, whereas with Nintendo pretty much everyone is familiar with most of them.

It doesn't help that Sony's brands aren't exactly megaton blockbusters, at least when compared to Nintendo and Microsoft. Halo 3 out-sold Resistance 1 and 2, Uncharted 1 and 2, Killzone 2, and God of War III COMBINED. Most of my friends got PS3's not because of the specific brands exclusive to the platform, but because they could play games online without paying. Seriously.

Sony has plenty of properties, some of the best out there, but to the average joe they don't seem special. I'm not saying they aren't; quite the opposite. I'm just saying that if you show Nathan Drake and Radec to random people, they'll just think they're dudes with guns. That didn't really happen with Smash Bros., where you've got characters more recognizable than Mickey Mouse with Mario and Pikachu.

ohhaime

#44

ohhaime said:

@hamispink Thanks for telling me , I just checked and my games are synced but I swear that never worked for me before.
I guess that bumps my opinion of the game up from "Mediocre at best" to "Solidly Mediocre" .

3Above

#45

3Above said:

I preordered the game and have been throroughly enjoying it. For years I wanted a SSB with PS characters much like many many others and now ...that I have it im happy. The negative comments are ironic since so many fans once wished for this very game. I wonder where those people are now? I expect this same negativity should there ever be a FF 7 remake. After yrs of asking for it most will scoff at it.

NathanUC

#46

NathanUC said:

Lots of comments here complaining about character selection. If you read some of the interviews with the developers, you'll see the problems they had with getting characters into the game was with the owners of them characters.

Sure there are a few missing that I'd love to see but this game took me by surprise. I only bought it on impulse so that my girlfriend and I had something to play and I found myself really loving this game (so much more than I had SSB). The level design, the character styles, and the smoothness/complexity of it all is just such a perfect mix I think. I don't think anything "went wrong" with this game at all as I never expected super high sales value due to the time of release and minimal advertisement.

Wesbert

#47

Wesbert said:

I also think they should have tried to create a 3D game (more like Dissidia than SSB).
The Smash Bros formula works because most Nintendo characters started out in 2D side-scrolling games (including Link in Zelda II), so pitching them against each other in a flat environment felt natural and nostalgic.
Most Playstation mascots however made their debut in 3D games, and maneuvering Nathan Drake, Kratos or Sly in only one plane feels restrictive and wrong to many.

SuperKMxAdmin

#48

SuperKMx said:

"What went wrong with PlayStation All-Stars?" - Simple. They saw Super Smash Bros., figured that they could shoehorn tons of PlayStation-based characters into it in order to raise "brand awareness", then made a game that wasn't as good as Super Smash Bros. :)

get2sammybAdmin

#49

get2sammyb said:

@KenB It's really not that at all, though — but I suppose the perception that it is that is the bigger problem. I think the gameplay is better than Smash to be honest.

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