Fuse Struggles In The UK: Is The B-Tier Game Dying?

Fuse, Insomniac Games’s first multi-platform release, has seemingly failed to ignite consumer interest, charting at #37 on the UK sales charts in it’s opening week of release.

The EA Partners title, released for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC last week, was met with a critical reception that could be best described as “resoundingly indifferent“. Despite boasting unique weapons and solid gameplay, critics bemoaned the game’s uninspired art style and general lack of personality.  This, coupled with weak-to-nonexistent marketing from EA’s troubled Partners label and harsh public sentiment following a highly controversial change in art style, has to led to the dismal performance in the UK.

While the UK sales charts don’t provide exact sales data, much speculation has taken place regarding the game’s performance. Gameindustry.biz’s European editor, Matt Martin, pointed out that, in many cases, games ranking in the top ten can move less than 5,000 units. Elsewhere, users of the Internet forum Neogaf have reported seeing the game already sold at clearance prices, sometimes marked down to as low as eight dollars.

Fuse’s story is one that is becoming increasingly more common in the game’s industry. Last year’s Prototype 2, published by Activision, suffered a similar fate. With a Metacritic score hovering in the mid-70s, the game failed to find a sizable audience, eventually leading to the closure of it’s developer, Radical Games. This week’s release, Capcom’s Remember Me, is posed to see a similar fate, with mixed reviews and a confused marketing campaign.

This isn’t just a trend limited to poorly received games, nor games with miscalculated marketing budgets. Last year’s brilliant Spec Ops: The Line performed below expectations for 2K despite garnering strong critical acclaim, and 2011’s Homefront failed to set the world ablaze despite THQ’s marketing budget being in the “tens of millions“. The b-tier game is dying, with the focus being placed on higher-profile releases like Call of Duty, or smaller games like League of Legends or Angry Birds.

We probably won’t see games like Fuse in the next-generation, or at the very least, we won’t see them as boxed products. Perhaps Fuse can find an audience on downloadable platforms like Steam, but it’s certainly not doing very well on retail shelves.