Need for Speed Unbound screeched onto PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S last week. But judging from the UK game sales charts, not many players knew it was out.
Need for Speed Unbound off to a slow start
Need for Speed Unbound is off to a slow start in the UK game sales charts. Criterion’s urban street racer debuted at number 17 last week according to GFK via GamesIndustry.bz.
That’s an alarmingly poor launch for a game in the second-best-selling racing game franchise of all time after Mario Kart. Since it started in 1994, the Need for Speed franchise has sold over 150 million units and is the tenth biggest gaming IP in the UK.
In fact, UK sales for Need for Speed Unbound are 68 per cent down compared to 2019’s Need for Speed Heat. The PS5 version accounted for 78 per cent of NFS Unbound's initial sales.
Meanwhile, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still dominating sales. Despite being five years old, MK8 Deluxe took the number four spot, beating NFS Unbound by ten places.
Why is Need for Speed Unbound bombing?
There are several factors to consider here.
Firstly, the UK games charts only include boxed sales. The disc version of NFS Unbound came out on 2 December, so it’s only been out for a few days.
It’s no secret that digital game sales have overtaken physical game sales and have become more popular since the pandemic after NFS Heat launched.
Digital sales for NFS Unbound will likely be much higher, especially for the Palace Edition that came out three days earlier on 29 November. It's also worth noting that NFS Unbound is available for EA Play and EA Play Pro subscribers.
NFS Unbound has also arrived with surprisingly little fanfare or marketing from EA. After months of rumours and leaks, NFS Unbound was revealed in early October and hastily pushed out just two months later, giving little time to generate hype.
The polarising art style and the lack of reviews at launch probably haven't helped either.
Things are more encouraging on Steam. No sales data or specific player counts are available, but NFS Unbound is currently the fifth best-selling game on Steam right now at the time of writing, sitting above Fifa 23.
Let’s hope NFS Unbound gains some traction in the run-up to Christmas because EA won’t want another high-profile flop after Battlefield 2042, which Criterion also helped work on.