There’s a new Call of Duty coming this year. Of course there is. Thing is, this time it toys with the established formula, adding a few things that might actually pass of genuine innovation – and as far as I’m concerned, sounds really interesting. The question is, are those changes enough to keep the general gaming public interested in a franchise that many believe has become stale over the years?
Though it broke launch day sales records (like the Call of Duty before it), Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t look like it best Black Ops’ overall sales. Will Black Ops 2 manage to smash sales records again this year? Analysts are divided.
RW Baird’s Colin Sebastian believes that the ageing console tech, and competing games like Halo 4 might put a bit of a dent in Black Ops sales.
“Overall, I think games like Call of Duty need new console hardware – developers are working with 7-year-old technology in an environment when tablets and smart TVs will soon be just as powerful,” he sad to GI.Biz. “We are forecasting Black Ops 2 to sell roughly the same number of copies as Modern Warfare 2 in 2011,” he said.
Michael “Magic 8 Ball” Pachter of Wedbush Morgan also doubts the new Call of Duty will eclipse the sales of older games in the series.
“I don’t think Modern Warfare 3 is going to sell more than the last Black Ops, so I doubt that this one will break a record,” he prognosticated.“I think that Call of Duty is a phenomenon, selling way more than 20 million units annually, and it’s unrealistic to think that number can grow meaningfully with each annual release.”
On the opposite side of the fence stands EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich, who believes that though game sales in general are slow, Call of Duty – thanks to Activision’s marketing muscle – will continue to rake in the profits.
“The entire HD market is very soft at the moment, and it is understandable that retailers, publishers, and analysts are likely to be conservative on any Black Ops II forecast. Whether Black Ops II sets any records this year will depend entirely upon the overall engagement of HD consumers, which is largely out of the control of Activision and Treyarch,” he said.”Every year we question whether the Call of Duty franchises can set new records, and for the last four years they have proven us wrong. Personally, I wouldn’t under-estimate Activision, even against the odds of a more torpid HD market this holiday season.”
M2 Research’s Pilly Pidgeon agrees,
“Call of Duty should continue to do very well and is likely to continue to break records as it will sell into a larger installed base of consoles,” he stated. “I think other big hits will also continue to perform strongly until we get into the console transition and enthusiast spending begins to shift towards hardware again.”
I certainly think that the eagerly anticipated Xbox 360 exclusive Halo 4 – releasing in the same month – will take a sizeable chunk out of Black Ops sales, as their target markets have a large overlap. EA also has a new Medal of Honour this year – though I don’t think it’ll do nearly as well as last year’s Battlefield. Black Ops 2 has received triple the pre-orders that the first Black Ops had in the 24 hours since it became available for pre-purchase, and 30% more than Modern Warfare 3 – so it looks like the Call of Duty train is far derailing.