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This Iconic LucasArts Game Was Actually A Commercial Flop

Based solely on its Metacritic score, aggregating reviews of the game from a variety of fans and critics alike, Grim Fandango appears to have been a resounding success. Its 94 Metascore, based on critical reviews, and 9.1 User Score, based on fan reviews, are both described as indicating "universal acclaim" by the website.


Its good reception, however, didn't quite translate into financial success at the time of its release. The game only sold around half a million copies worldwide when it was first made available for the PC in 1998, though it was remastered for modern systems in 2015.

The financial underperformance of Grim Fandango was ultimately not the result of a single deciding factor but simply a case of a title failing to garner an audience equivalent in size to its perceived quality. That said, there are a couple of possible reasons why consumers may not have taken to Grim Fandango quite as much as its positive reviews suggest they maybe should have.

A declining medium

Grim Fandango was released in 1998. It was then the latest in a series of adventure games developed by LucasArts. Prior titles include hits like Day of the Tentacle and The Secret of Monkey Island.

Unlike its 2D predecessors, however, Grim Fandango took place in a 3D world. It was ultimately one of just two attempts by LucasArts to adapt its winning adventure game formula into 3D. While, as its reviews indicate, the game was well-received, that was nevertheless despite a clunky control scheme indicative of the company's inexperience with the 3D medium.


Furthermore, the adventure game genre was simply declining in popularity at that time. Thus, while Grim Fandango may have been an exemplary adventure game, player interest in the genre as a whole may have been lacking.

It's unlikely Grim Fandango will ever receive a sequel, not necessarily as a result of its sales but because lead writer Tim Schafer isn't a sequel guy. Since his attention is currently focused on a sequel to Psychonauts, which recently hit a significant milestone, the prospect of a sequel to yet another Schafer title seems even less likely.