The Biggest September NPD News is That Shadow of Mordor Actually Sold Well


September’s NPD Group numbers are officially out, and there’s a lot to talk about. While many are focused on the fact that the PS4 outsold the Xbox One yet again, despite Michael Pachter claiming that wouldn’t be the case, there’s something even bigger and more important to gamers: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor‘s success.

Shadow of Mordor came in as the fifth best-selling title of the month, beating out huge games with substantial marketing campaigns such as NHL 15, The Sims 4, and even Disney Infinity 2.0.Judging by its placement, it sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 550,000 to 700,000 units during the period in North America alone. At this point it’s safe to say that the game was a financial success.

Shadow of Mordor has quickly become a gamer’s game, a title that emphasizes fun in its gameplay, and introduces a novel idea called the Nemesis System which makes interactions between the player and the game’s large library of antagonists meaningful. Gamers have taken to social media to post fantastic stories about how they forged a rivalry with a virtual enemy, in many cases eventually defeating him in some epic fashion. One gamer said that it “re-ignited my life-long passion for video games“. He isn’t alone.

This isn’t the first time Monolith Productions has had its swing at the Lord of the Rings IP, though. In-fact, it released Guardians of Middle-earth just two years ago, a game that received middling reviews and didn’t sell very well. But Warner Bros. Interactive didn’t lose its hope in Monolith, and Monolith didn’t give up on its vision of crafting an engrossing RPG product.

Truth is, few would have predicted that Shadow of Mordor would ever hit top 10 in an NPD Group software chart. It had little to no hype leading up to release, and the little it did have derived from positive impressions from journalists and the few who got to play it pre-release. In a way you could say it defied the odds of the video game industry.


“Shadow of Mordor took risks in a way that many AAA franchises are afraid to.”


Not only did Shadow of Mordor put smiles on many faces, it sold well. This is an example of a product that earned a positive reputation, and benefited greatly from it. In an industry dominated by the mainstream franchises like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and countless sports titles, it is remarkable when a game unbeknownst to most is able to cross the one million units sold mark in quick order.

This goes to show that what we as gamers say and discuss does matter. There’s a reason EA delayed the release of Battlefield: Hardline; it knows it can’t make the same mistake it did with Battlefield 4.

I’ve seen a lot of people this week say that Bayonetta 2 has no chance of selling well. It’s as if consumers don’t believe in themselves and their ability to be impactful. This doubt comes at a time in history where many people are spending hours each day staring at Facebook walls and Twitter feed. All it takes is one positive impression to make a sale, and there have been so many games that could have been saved from extinction if they were born of this era.

Shadow of Mordor is by no means a perfect game, but it took risks in a way that many AAA franchises are afraid to. This is the type of game that earned its right to sell well; it isn’t just inheriting success.

Whether or not you enjoy a game, talk about it. Share your experiences. That discussion goes a lot farther than you might think.