The Iliad describes a lot of ships arriving on the shores near Troy, but that’s nothing compared to the number of players who redeemed a free copy of Total War Saga: Troy during its 24-hour free giveaway period on the Epic Games Store. Publisher Sega says 7.5 million players claimed a free copy of Troy during the giveaway, exceeding even Sega’s rosiest projections.
“We were optimistic but we couldn’t have predicted this level of excitement,” says Rob Bartholomew, chief product officer for A Total War Saga: Troy. “Now we get to welcome so many strategy players – new and old – to experience this incredible Saga. We’re very happy.”
Why would a publisher be happy about 7.5 million copies of their new game given out for free? Conventional wisdom suggests these are lost sales. But it’s increasingly clear that the online games marketplace doesn’t behave according to conventional rules and wisdom. When Epic partnered with Take-Two to make Grand Theft Auto V free earlier this year, it led to a record-setting quarter for the publisher. The free giveaway actually boosted GTA 5 sales to their highest point since its PC launch in 2015.
Sega is likely banking on the Total War Saga: Troy giveaway to introduce a whole new audience to its long-running strategy games series. If even a small percentage of the 7.5 million players who picked up the game during the free period become Total War fans, that would represent a significant sales boost for the rest of Creative Assembly’s catalogue.
Time will tell if it’s enough to offset whatever loss in profits the companies see from giving the game away on launch day, but it sounds as though Sega, at least, is feeling pretty good about it.
If you’re new to Total War and want a little help finding your way around the Bronze Age, have a look at our Total War Saga: Troy Odysseus guide and our Total War Saga: Troy Paris guide to get a handle on both Homeric heroes’ unique characteristics and campaign mechanics.