Rhythm Thief bombs in the UK (News/Rant)

The good news? Rhythm Thief was not one of the cancellations reportedly occuring in the wake of SEGA’s recent financial woes; the game saw release in Europe earlier this month. The bad news? Nobody bought it. Though exact numbers are not currently known, SEGA’s forray back into Samba De Amigo-styled rhythm games failed to make the UK top 40 in its debut week, and its chart position remained missing in action in week 2.

I apologise in advance if this comes off as a rant; my intention is certainly not to upset anybody, but it’s hard for me to respond in any other way to what I find to be such an incredibly shocking turn of events. How is it that even with the fan outcry for more quirky, Japanese-style fare from SEGA, that with the good reviews and the lack of competition on the system, that with an ad campaign and Nintendo as a distributor…how is it that this didn’t sell? If niche Japanese beat-em-up Pandora’s Tower (on the Wii of all systems) can make this same chart (debuted last week at 38) then is it a stretch to expect a game being billed as one of the best rhythm games in years to find at least similar success?

It’s truly unfortunate to see sales like these for such a great-looking game. I’ve been a SEGA fan since the Genesis area, and speaking for myself, I want to see in-house SEGA continue making games outside of Sonic the Hedgehog. I want there to be a market for new IP drenched it that quirky SEGA flavor that we all love. I want SEGA to continue to take risks and, for once, actually have them pay off. If a fanbase like the one Atlus has is able to beg for a game like Catherine, a game originally said to be Japan-only, and then have it localized and have it become a smash hit for the company, why can’t SEGA’s fanbase do the same?

Sadly I can’t yet purchase Rhythm Thief, as it won’t see release in my country until this July. To those of you who have already bought the game, I thank you as a SEGA fan, and hope that, somehow, this game finds an audience down the road.

(Note: This post is specifically my own and does not necessarily represent the opinions or points of view of the rest of the SEGAbits staff.)


29 responses to “Rhythm Thief bombs in the UK (News/Rant)

  1. ScottishDuck says:

    I bought the game day 1, it’s pretty damn good! I think Shinobi 3D had similar sale figures when it came out. I really hope it does a lot better stateside

  2. TimmiT says:

    Because Nintendo has a shitton of more fans than SEGA does and because the fans went out of their way to have Pandora’s Tower and two other games localized. Also, marketing, nobody buys it if nobody knows it’s out.

    • Aki-at says:

      Nintendo was handling the marketing for SEGA in the same way they did for Dragon Quest here in the UK, lack of marketing is not the reason R Thief has bombed here sadly.

    • Mr Dino says:

      Advertising for this game actually happened in the UK? I’m sorry, mate but I must disagree when it comes to my experience of it. I saw absolutely no advertising at all, only became aware of this game by mere coincidence. Wandered into a store, saw it and figured it was different, so decided to give it a go and glad that I did. But until around a week ago, I was completely unaware that this game even existed. If it was like that for me, you can bet that a lot more people were like me and simply didn’t even know that the game even existed.

      Another reason for poor sales would be because one of our more prominent game stores known as Game had some financial trouble and almost collapsed. Unfortunately, that happened during Rhythm Thief’s release and so, Game skipped a lot of new releases during their crisis and so a lot of new releases didn’t hit shelves in such a huge slice of our game providing cake. Rhythm Thief was one of such releases that was skipped by Game.

  3. Exu says:

    Wait, this game’s out?


  4. TimeWalker says:

    This game was also a day 1 purchase for me. I don’t get it why exactly THIS game doesn’t get sold very well, it’s really a great game and it already deserves a sequel. I really hope it gets better.

  5. Barry the Nomad says:

    I’m planning on getting a 3DS in June, and plan to get the US version on day 1.

  6. Samurai-Don says:

    I am surprise that it bomb in sales given that it would reach the casual audience, unless people are still stuck in the mind set that Sega games sucks.

    Hmm, I wonder if the sales would have been the same if had Nintendo’s name on it instead of Sega?

    Anyway I didn’t buy Rhythm Thief because I really care for rhythm base game, so I would have been wasting my money.

  7. peachlife says:

    whats is wrong with this world. why!!!!!!!!!!!!??? dont let sega die!

  8. -nSega54- says:

    I should clarify that of course I’m not asking people to buy a game they’re not interested in….I wasn’t interested in Binary Domain, afterall.

    I’m just surprised that Sega fans haven’t been interested in this.

    Binary Domain wasn’t such a huge surprise; games like Gears of War typically don’t get a lot of love in the Sega fanbase, and Binary Domain was presented as a Gears of War With Robots almost 6 years after Gears of War came out.

    Rhythm Thief though looks like the type of game SEGA fans have been clamoring for…I don’t get it.

  9. radrappy says:

    not to sound mean but are you honestly surprised by this at all? It’s a quirky rhythm game for gods sakes. And you’re attacking the sega fanbase for not being enthusiastic enough? I’d say its not that people aren’t excited enough, it’s just that the sega fanbase in general is tiny at this point. Like, seriously, it’s small. Sega has been making business blunders for the past ten years. Their emphasis on Sega West failed spectacularly, their licensing deals laughable, and their only recent popular games were developed by platinum. And now they decide to develop/release a game like this which in today’s marketing/gaming climate is all but doomed to crash and burn.

    • Aki-at says:

      Even those Platinum Games are modest hits for the AAA crowd, Vanquish 800k? Bayonetta 1.35 million? Football Manager alone trumps both and possibly Total War in the long run does so too.

      Digital is the future for publishers like SEGA when it comes to title like R Thief, no, rather titles like R Thief, their future has to be digital. Just the way publishers like EA and Activision has steered the market.

  10. -nSega54- says:

    Haha it’s a rhythm game yeah but so was Samba De Amigo and people seemed to dig that. I just think it’s funny that certain people constantly beg Sega to go back to making games like they did during the DC era and when it happens, people don’t buy them.

    So yeah I am surprised, to be honest.

    • radrappy says:

      it’s a little unfair to demand such games from modern sega given that it’s a different time in a different place. More and more it seems like this is the age of the giant AAA franchises. You either move millions and millions of copies or you sell none. There’s hardly any room for a third party dev like sega in the market. They really need to develop a niche following on the level of atlus in order to survive. I couldn’t tell you how sega plans to get back in the spotlight but they need to badly. They need a popular franchise that is not sonic. Something with universal appeal but that still has that Sega spirit and pizzaz. It cant look or feel like a desperate attempt to appeal to western audiences either.

    • peachlife says:

      I think you are selling the heritage of SEGA too short. In fact a lot of the comments here are just being plain short sighted about the situation. SEGA have the licenses and fanbase (albeit dormant right now) that would far outstrip your comparison to ATLUS and could even compete with the top publishers, if SEGA improved their strategy. Calls to refocus more on digital is also a joke. Too expect so little from a company that has done so much would be a mockery of all that they have the potential to be. Its even more sad when it looks like fans would be content with such a move. SEGA is worth more than this, the mario and sonic games show what is possible, in terms of sales.

    • radrappy says:

      oh and it’d be interesting to learn how many copies Samba actually moved. The dreamcast died for a reason.

  11. -nSega54- says:

    “They need a popular franchise that is not sonic.”

    Agreed. It’s just hard because every new franchise they have it seems like they royally screw up and it bombs.

    You can have mid-level success…games like Bioshock and Borderlands are certainly not Modern Warfare 3-like success stories but they did well and were popular franchises.

    How is it that all these other companies are able to create popular new IP and Sega can’t seem to do it? Clearly there’s an issue here and I don’t think cutting staff from the Western branches is going to help, frankly.

  12. TenkoTAiLS says:

    It surprises me that the “internet” voice of people screams for new IP’s and that they don’t just want the same franchises “milked” to death. And yet when a new IP comes along they ignore it.

    And when a new game in a already solid franchise comes along they buy it like hot cakes and it reaches the top of the charts even tho they were just posting a few weeks ago how they were so sick of the franchise of the game they just purchased, then proceed to post about lack of new IP after they secretly finish the game they said there was no way in hell they would support anymore.

    Unless it is a new game in an existing franchise or something over the top marketed as being the new in thing, it seems to get passed by on shelves.

  13. Gagaman says:

    This is pretty much why Sega needs to focus on downloadable games. The retail market for gaming is a mess now: if it’s not a “AAA” title or a already established franchise it will not sell.

    My excuse? I don’t have and can not justify owning a 3DS at the moment. If and when i do get one this and Shinobi would be at the top of my list tough.

  14. Richard says:

    As it has being pointed out a majority of 3ds holders are nintendo fans and have little to no interest in sega titles but sonic. Rhythm theif bombed for one reason in my eyes and thats people were too busy buying pandora tower, last story and xenoblade cause it got enough of a buzz on the internet. Also as many people said here people are still stuck in a mindset that sega games suck while they have released enough quality titles that i consider my fav games this gen. As jade raymond from ubisoft recently said in a interview that gaming industry needs to grow up , people are too busy copy and paste AAA titles and making clones and actually innovate. Rhythm theif was always going to get look past but might have do better when price drop , i cant afford it right now but will pick it up eventually. This is how the industry works now , all that matters is AAA titles and fps , be lucky enough sometimes when other titles than that genre do any good .. Keep in mind sega had a worthy new ip valkyria chronicles that was loved in the west but destroyed west trust when they wanted japan audience more and make vc in a merchandise not just a videogame …

  15. Aki-at says:

    The market is crashing, check that British chart list and see another high profile flop, or flop in the making, SFxT was like 6th, then 20th and now? It’s 40th. It is almost out of the charts, Street Fighter IV stayed higher a lot longer

    As for the SEGA fanbase, it is a massive fanbase despite some may say, but it is not a connected fanbase. There are Sonic fans, Sonic Team fans, AM2 fans, Virtua Fighter fans, Yakuza fans, Nagoshi fans, Phantasy Star fans etc the amount of SEGA fans who are fans of SEGA in general is quite limited.

    Of course why stop at R Thief? The recent Resident Evil title also flopped hard in Europe, so hardly surprising if you ask me, Kid Icarus is not doing too hot either.

    • Len says:

      Strongly agree with that, SEGA does not have a direct connected fan base but then that was probably one of the costs SEGA would have to pay when it left the Dreamcast and went third party.

      People have split some what and SEG’s fan base has diminished somewhat as a result.

      Maybe it’s that SEGA is too diverse with it’s franchises and not relating their games with each other enough like Nintendo does, but then Capcom don’t do it either yet people still seem to love Street Fighter and Resident Evil at the same time and they are completely different kinds of games, so it’s hard to pin point what exactly makes it different when it’s SEGA.

      To be honest, I think SEGA did more damage and tarnish to it’s name with these disatrously bad third party licence games than we give them credit for, people would play it and think “WTF, this is not SEGA”.
      And now they’ve kind of mentally concluded that SEGA equals rubbish now.

  16. inthesky says:

    This is immensely depressing. I can’t say I have any real knowledge of Sega’s marketing/game design blunders. But I’m wondering if consumer tastes have still stagnated in a way that there’s no room for the (at least slightly) more artistically or creatively forward and quirky games of before.

    Are we being reduced to microgames, micro-everything? These tastes may be drowned out by the “successful” ones. A shame. I just don’t understand what can be done to convince people to invest themselves anymore in these “non-mainstream” titles. The sad part is…if Sega really is strapped for money, they may not be the ones to take the risks in the near future.

  17. inthesky says:

    To note–recently, as least this week, hasn’t been a strong sales time, NPD (NA) and Media Create (JP) seem to suggest this. But still, failing to chart at all is troubling

  18. -nSega54- says:

    “As it has being pointed out a majority of 3ds holders are nintendo fans and have little to no interest in sega titles but sonic. ”

    But what about Sega fans? lol didn’t Sega fans used to go out and buy hardware to play Sega games? The 3DS has seen MonkeyBall, Shinobi, Digital Sonic GameGear releases, and Rhythm Thief already. Sega fans still don’t want one?

    I dunno, I just find it puzzling. Does the Sega fanbase no longer buy games? I’m starting to think so. It’s not even just an issue of the 3DS, either…their HD efforts aren’t selling either, for the most part. (Vanquish, Binary Domain.)

  19. Len says:

    Hate to say it but it’s getting to the point where the only time SEGA is ever going to be any kind of success now is by making bullshit crappy over hyped third party licence, non-SEGA style of games.

    We can’t have it both ways with SEGA it seems, you either have shitter games that do better or have good quality SEGA style games that just don’t do well business wise.

    Take your pick…

  20. Len says:

    Indeed, the SEGA we all know and love takes yet another step closer to death, Shenmue, all of a sudden, seems to be nothing more than a fantasy that will never happen again.

    Dreamcast truly was the end of the Hardcore class…it wasn’t just the end of the real SEGA that should have been, it wasn’t just the end of another one of their systems, it was the end of an era and a whole class within the industry…

  21. Len says:

    The SEGA we all know and love takes yet another step closer to death, all of a sudden, Shenmue seems to be a fantasy that will even less likely happen ever again….

    The Dreamcast truly was the end of the Hardcore class…

    It wasn’t just the end of the SEGA that was supposed to be, it wasn’t just an end of another one of their systems, it was the end of an era and an entire class within the industry…

  22. SkyBlue says:

    RadRappy is right. The fanbase is small but I think two other things factored into poor sales other then that and marketing.

    1) The game was way over the price of what would be deemed acceptable for the majority to even care.

    2) The genre is niche itself.

    I bet some people would buy this game if they are into that type of stuff (let’s not forget Rhythm Paradise didn’t do well either), but with the current price, lack of advertising and the small fanbase, it’s sad but unfortunate that this game didn’t sell.

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