Publisher 2K shipped 4.5 million copies of Mafia 3 between digital and retail stores during its first week, according to The Washington Post.
However, note the distinction between shipped and sold: a publisher can ship X amount of games to a store, but the store might not have sold through its stock.
Nevertheless, shipping 4.5 million units is still a big deal. That statistic makes Mafia 3, developed by Hangar 13, the biggest launch in 2K's history.
Critics and consumers are mixed regarding how Mafia 3 turned out. "The story is amazing, capturing perfectly the time period and character's motivations. Sadly, the open world and filler content make it almost unbearable, forcing you to choke down a whole lot of bad for just a few small sips of the good," concluded Shacknews editor Joshua Hawkins in his review.
Despite uneven criticism, Mafia 3 deserves recognition for how it handled its characters and themes. The game industry routinely catches flak for slotting in white male protagonists. Lead designer Haden Blackman and the team at Hangar 13 set out to design their lead, a biracial man named Lincoln Clay, as a character who not only challenged an industry norm, but whose race became an integral part of his identity and story.
"Lincoln's racial identity came from a desire to have the game tell its own story, and to look at who would be the most interesting from that time period," said Blackman.
"It’s tough to take on a subject material like this and treat it realistically and sensitively. We have to be sure not to put our words in the character's mouths, but to make sure the words belong in the mouths of the characters," said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.
The developers did their homework, reading through hundreds of firsthand accounts and watching documentaries centered on African Americans who lived in the south during the 1960s.
"The reaction from most critics and players has given me the validation that we walked that tightrope pretty well," Blackman said. “We received a lot of feedback from African American players who appreciate a character that represents diversity and that we weren't shying away from what that means."
I do think consumers are searching for a representation of our exceedingly diverse world in our entertainment and art," Zelnick agreed.