Call of Duty beginning to slow, says analyst

Sterne Agee industry watcher estimates Black Ops II sales down 15 percent against Modern Warfare 3.

A note to investors from Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia today claims the Call of Duty brand is beginning to show signs of fatigue.

The industry watcher expects that unit sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops II are tracking down double digits against last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

According to retailer checks, some shops were down as much as 20 percent, Bhatia said. In total, it is his estimation that first-year sales for Black Ops II will decline 10-15 percent from those of Modern Warfare 3.

If accurate, this would be the second year running that the Call of Duty brand has declined year-over-year. The first came last year, Bhatia said, when Modern Warfare 3 was down 5 percent against sales of the original Call of Duty: Black Ops.

"It goes without saying that weakness in this franchise is a cause for concern," Bhatia said.

Bhatia attributed the weakened Black Ops II sales to three possible factors, the first of which is an overall lower average review score compared to Modern Warfare 3. The second is the game's release proximity to high-profile competitor Halo 4, which itself had a banner debut, recording day-one revenue of $220 million. Third, Bhatia believes Black Ops II's release just one week ahead of Thanksgiving may have caused some gamers to hold out on purchasing in hopes of scoring a deal on Black Friday.

Earlier this month, Activision announced that Black Ops II netted $500 million during its first 24 hours, cruising past Modern Warfare 3's day-one haul of $400 million. Importantly, though, Modern Warfare 3's figure only accounts for North American and European sales, while Black Ops II's factors in all regions.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

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mbize2007
mbize2007

When I hop back onto CoD I play MW2. Why? Because no one plays CoD 2 anymore, MW1 is filled with hackers, and every game after MW2 is the exact same as MW2. Activision can keep releasing all the CoD they want; until people start hacking MW2 I don't see the point in buying the next one.

 I still wish people would go back to CoD 2. Good times...

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

It's a cause for concern, yea. Activision blizzard might have to get off of their asses and actually do some work for the first time in 10 years. Maybe they havent considered that at its core, CoD has always been -even including CoD 1 and 2 which were good, fun games  - a soulless, content-less, low quality god awful piece of shit that no one likes. It didn't even GET any popularity until little 10th graders and kids started playing CoD MW 1 when it came out on consoles.

gullgullgull
gullgullgull

Or maybe a fourth "possible factor" is that people are bored of this annually released title, and Activision is driving yet another IP into the ground.

 

Shit, better get me an analyst job. Looks like I'm a pro.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Wow, people are finally realizing that COD is the same crap every single year after year after year.... Maybe they aren't as dumb as Halo or Madden fans after all.

d_parker
d_parker

The fact that the game was causing PS3s to crash at launch, the hit detection is suspect and the maps are boring might have something to do with the poor sales.

kvan33
kvan33

You can only cut and paste for so long.   The next gen COD will be huge though.  It will probably crush all sales records before it.   If the brand is truly becoming stale (and I think it may be), then I would bet there will be a large drop off from the first next gen COD and any follow up.  But by the time that happens, Activision will have made billions though.

powerfulone1987
powerfulone1987

Let us bask in your mercy and glory lord. Praise him!

rann89
rann89

People grow up eventually. Sure took them long enough though.

fillup0
fillup0

Do these people really get paid to sit around and state the obvious?

 

I want this job!

crashmer
crashmer

The kids are onto you now Activision, better change the formula.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

As a fan of CoD both MW and BO I feel there is just buyer fatigue. 

Multiple CoD games coming out since 2007, with so many companies making clones. And I am sorry, BO2 while a fine game, is just more of the same. The market is getting over saturated.

As a huge fan of gaming I am afraid of another RPG glut or guitar hero era where the market is just flooded and eventually stale.

I am not afraid CoD franchise will go away but become like so many and go mediocre. As with all business, as with all products, fads, hell even human nature - once something special or amazing comes along it is copied, mimic'd, and emulated to death. I just wish game publishers were more farsighted then nearsighted for short term fleeting profits. Not all businesses can be GE, Apple but do all business graduates never learn from the past.

 

Rovelius
Rovelius

Got a beef with Michael Pachter or something?

Arian9
Arian9

I just think it was all the haters that spend there precious time hating on a game that made it lose SOME sales. Its too bad this cod came out when it did cause really its the best COD ever i can't speak for single player or consoles but as for a online pc shooter it is great you need quick reflexes to be good your mechanics need to be solid, its not all about camping in a corner and getting your kill streak to have a good round. There aren't soooo many OP perks or guns in the game anymore. I totally agree that CODs have been repetitive over the past few games but really this is the first one that has tried to change things up. Obviously it not gong to be a complete change i mean it is an FPS  If your looking for need for speed look elsewhere.

 

Im just saying to all your people who are saying "i haven't played a COD since MW2" should really give it a shot especially seeing as how MW2 was the worst COD ever. THis iteration of COD caters more to "real gamers" more then any other cod since MW1. Its amazing how many people have passed judgement on this game without even playing it.

 

BoozerX
BoozerX

500 million in the first day and they are worried, lmao

olegavi323
olegavi323

And it only took 10 COD to get to this stage XD

thech0senONE
thech0senONE

This analyst is an idiot. It's because more are starting to save their money from map packs and realize they are getting milked.

Gooeykat
Gooeykat

Fatigue is finally setting in I guess.

 

DesertLynx83
DesertLynx83

They'll still pump them out until it no longer makes them money. That's Activision's strategy.

csadhoo
csadhoo

the campaign and zombies in black ops 2 is interesting and different how they approached it. the multiplayer is really sucky let's say. BF3 and Halo 4 are the FPS games I am playing at the moment...

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

Well it's certainly not shocking if does end up happening.....at some point Acti's gonna have to accept that they're coming up on that oversaturation plateau that they're so good at hitting in their over-worked franchises. It happened to Tony Hawk; it happened to Guitar Hero, and it might have took a bit longer but apparently if these figures hold true it could mean the beginning of that downward for COD series. 

 

Not to say it's gonna crash-and-burn immediately or anything, but obviously if Acti doesn't pay attention to red flags (aka declining sales) and continue to toss out CODs like breadcrumbs, then eventually it will meet the same fate as GH & TH. 

tchanah
tchanah

Reasonable cause BOII is below stranded in my vision! I hate that Strategic segments.

valensim
valensim

Just make a 10h+ story and u will gain more money. ;)

Bleak5170
Bleak5170

I grew bored with this incarnation of COD in record time. Even MW 3 lasted longer for me. I just can't play a game online anymore where gun-fights are determined by one thing - connection. I have started to watch my killcams, and the number of times I have been shot or even knifed while my character just stood there like a deer in the headlights, is ridiculous. On my screen I'm shooting away like a madman - on the other person's I'm just standing there. And this is on 4 bars! Mind you, it does work in my favour as well sometimes but that's hardly fair either.

 

    There's just no point in playing this game.

wowwow27
wowwow27

they need a cod sandbox game, like far cry 3

Falru
Falru

MAYBE it's because it's the damn same exact thing we've been playing for years and years!

LT21494
LT21494

So BO2 only made $500 million.... that's not exactly a franchise killer with sales like that

Kane04
Kane04

Worst thing this gen has to be CoD and the Wii.

 

They just showed all you need to do to make money is appeal to kids and grannies, the kind of people that can't tell a d-pad from the analog stick.

 

True gamers are becoming a niche.

 

And before all the hate from Wii fans come crushing down, how much did Super Mario Galaxy sold? 11 million?

For Mario 64 it was 1/3 of N64 owners and back then 3rd party on the system was much better i.e. more competition.

 

People that are real Nintendo fans buy the first party games, specially now a days with the poor available offer from 3rd party.

 

Nintendo might have sold 90 million units but don't think for a second you can call all those "fans", A LOT of people that bough it are like I said, non gamers that can't tell which side of the controller is the right way up and only play waterdown/simplistic games.

Kezman118
Kezman118

I'd never thought I'd live to see this day. Well I guess it true when people say "the bigger they are, the harder they fall".

bmart970
bmart970

It's too bad though, that the game that at least tried to innovate got less sales because its predecessor did not.

NoelXYeul
NoelXYeul

I knew from the beginning it was just a fad, and nothing more. This isn't Mario, Final Fantasy, Zelda, or Grand Theft Auto, those game leave you with a memorable masterpiece with every iteration. Every Call of Duty becomes yesterday's news after a new one is released. Even with those great games, you can still say, that was a great contribution to the series. But with Call of Duty, they are faced with having to top themselves each year, just for a game that will only survive at the most 18 months. Multiplayer is a good way to play with other people around the world, but when I first heard of it, I was quick to jump on the hate bandwagon, and although I have embraced it over the years, I see now why my gut forced me to be skeptic about it in the first place.

nickaugust20
nickaugust20

Honestly, MW2 was the last Call of Duty game I put significant time into for 2 reasons - 1. Multiplayer is the same on every game. If I want a CoD experience any game will provide me that from MW1, WaW, BO, all of em are basically the same. 2. They all become boring after a while so why waste my money?

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I'd say competition from Halo 4 is probably the most likely of those three reasons, but I think they're all the sort of answers of someone overthinking things. I reckon people are just getting bored of CoD. // I can't wait for the next generation Xbox and PlayStation. I genuinely think that's going to break Call of Duty.

SkytheWiz1
SkytheWiz1

Yeah, it has to do with one of those three options.

 

It has absolutely nothing to do with the increase in lag compensation from BLOPS1 -> MW3 -> BLOPS2, and without how frustrated people are becoming at people getting punished for having a decent or good internet connection.

 

I'm glad people are paid to analyze these things - that's clearly money well spent.

RiKanKiDD
RiKanKiDD

I stopped playing CoD after MW2.. I saw how unchanged MW3 was and black ops wasnt all that. Black ops 2 looks okay but its just not that interesting anymore. I remember how awsome the earlier Call of Duty games used to be like CoD 1, 2, 4, W@W... Those were the days. Now its trash.

 

Halo is doing pretty good though! :)

leandrro
leandrro

the analist did not say the main reason, bf3, bf3 sold 17 millions over the year, most of his players came from cod and seased to be cod fanboys

djpetitte
djpetitte

thats because all the idiots out there are finally realizing its an outdated turd. I miss cod 1 and 2.

CapZac
CapZac

I'm not a big CoD fan, but own black ops 2 for those days when i'm in the mood for some mindless fps action. While i appreciate the attempted effort by Treyarch to add some PC specific enhancements for graphics and sound, my beef is really with Activision.

I pre-ordered the game to make sure i received the nuketown map, since to me, it's the ideal map for that 'mindless fps action' mentioned above. However, shortly after release, activision pulled the map; then after much belly aching (rightfully so) from the community, activision brought it back (sort of) but mixed in a rotation (moshpit) with other small maps. Acitvision/Treyarch are patting themselves on the back for 'listening to the community'......yet the last two nights of play through on this moshpit rotation (that's supposed to include nuketown), several hours later, the nuketown map never materialized.

For me, it's this shady marketing, post sale (now that i have your money) changes, and total control of maps/rotation/server choices that has put the nail in coffin for my CoD relationship.

Back to battlefield; which isn't a bad thing....

 

abdougamer
abdougamer

I bought Black Ops II just for the Multiplayer , Honestly , the campaign really sucks , lol , wht a scenario !!! They did a good job on the maps , that's all .

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

"an overall lower average review score compared to Modern Warfare 3"

 

Which is idiotic because Black Ops 2 is leaps and bounds ahead of the mediocrity of Modern Warfare 3. That game was so "passable" that it makes me physically ill. That game SHOULD NOT have gotten better reviews than Black Ops 2.