If there’s one non-sporting title that stands as the marquee for annualised franchises, it’s got to be Call of Duty. For years now, people have been complaining that the whole thing is a shameless copy-and-paste job, and a blight on the gaming industry as a whole. Still, Call of Duty sells like madness ever year. It seems, however, that the wheels might finally be falling off the bus.
We’ve surmised that although Call of Duty: Ghosts sales are still enough to put it at the top of just about applicable sales chart, that actual year-on-year sales throughput is diminishing. The biggest red flag is that Activision hasn’t sent out a press release about Call of Duty being the best selling thing in the universe this year. So far, Ghosts has failed to outsell Black Ops 2 in the applicable launch period.
Activision was prepared for this, telling investors that the next-generation transition was to blame for the slower uptake of Call of Duty. Cowen analyst Doug Creutz, however, thinks that a closer look at the numbers reveal that things are a little worse for the franchise.
“Upon further reflection, we think the [Call of Duty] numbers are a bit more troubling than they first appeared,” Creutz wrote in a note to investors. “While the year-over-year gap is only 19 percent thus far, that includes two extra weeks of sales for the 360 and PS3 versions [of Black Ops II]. Against 2011?s [Modern Warfare 3], where the difference is only one week, the title is down 32 percent life-to-date.”
Call of Duty: Ghosts was released on November 5 this year, where last year’s Black Ops only hit retail on November 12, giving it a full 7 days less time, to do more sales. Creutz thinks Call of Duty’s star could be waning.
“We don’t think it is out of the question that the title could wind up comparing down 20 percent to 25 percent year-over-year [to Black Ops II], which is appreciably worse than the down 10 to 15 percent that we think is baked in to guidance.”
Guidance, here, is Activision’s own warning to investors. On a personal note, I think this year’s Call of Duty is the weakest of the lot – but I’m a single player gamer. Those who live COD multiplayer tell me that there are some great changes that make the multiplayer worth shooting through.