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.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

0 comments
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

Soleride
Soleride

 @VenkmanPHD wow why would you brand Halo fans dumb?

the Halo Franchise actually has a story that expands so far that there are books as fillers and the content within the Halo Universe is enrichened with story, voice actors (good ones) narritive and a well rounded game.

Even has a live action film which is not Sh!T.

Sergeant_
Sergeant_

 @VenkmanPHD I'd agree on you on some level, I agree that COD, and Madden fans are FAR worse than any other group of fan boys but I think for the most part you have to give credit to Halo for having a rich storyline, now..I haven't personally bought many Halos, infact I only bought Halo: CE and played the rest at a buddies house but I think Halo: CE was by far the pinnacle.

thingta42
thingta42

 @crashmer

 Back at Activision - Guys, we are loosing sales and need to change the formula. Hey! i know, lets just add a few extra guns and tweak the multiplayer slightly and then call it a brand new experience!

 

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

 @jenovaschilld Yea you may not have noticed but no one copied COD. COD started as a WW2 FPS franchise which GUESS WHAT there were already 150 of by the time CoD 1 came out. The game was lost in obscurity until Modern Warfare 1 when Activision decided to remove basic functions from each player and instead make them into perks. If they had kept the formula the same as COD 1 and 2 where it actually took skill to be decent at the game - where if you got shot in the head, you died and you didn't get back up, or summon dogs, or a helicopter, or an artillery strike - none of these kids would have given it a second glance because it wouldn't have been enjoyable for casual gamers.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

 @Rovelius Who doesn't Michael Pachter is the best real-life version of captian obvious ever to walk the earth. I seriously wish someone would just shoot him and ban his job from ever coming back.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

 @Arian9 Spoken like a noob 90s kid who never actually played CoD 2. And, no, very much no, no CoD caters to "real gamers" since CoD 2.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

 @Arian9 LMAO, for people who are saying "haven't played COD since MW2" You aren't missing a damn thing. Same garbage, every year, just like Madden.

Counter-Innovative brands like COD, MOH, and Halo need to be taken out back and shot in the head like a rabbid dog.

sharpshooter188
sharpshooter188

 @Arian9 MW2 was very imbalanced supposedly. I bought it but didn't have internet at the time so I could only play the campaign. However, from what I hear there were numerous problems with grenade launcher spamming. A strong aim assist which allowed for quick/trick scoping, and super knives. I would play it if the servers were still well packed but to say that is the worst, I would have to disagree. I personally believe that WaW was the worst. Primarily, because it just revisited a lot of old ground on the CoD franchise while also still bearing a setting that was getting long in the tooth. A lot of World War 2 games and mods were released and it was beginning to become tiresome.  Day of Defeat Source to name one and I believe there were quite a few others. Plus, Treyarchs netcoding still needs work. Wonky weapons and hitboxes at times (referring to the SVU sniper rifle.) Also, the aiming is not as smooth as the modern warfare series.  Though with so many CoDs, the only way I would buy another CoD is if Treyarchs ideas and Sledgehammer/Infinity Wards coding and refinement were combined to make some kind of titanic super CoD.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

 @thech0senONE That's for damn sure. I don't even play these garbage FPS games (COD, MOH, Halo etc [except to re-affirm that they are still garbage]) But industry-wide, the DLC thing is just out of hand. You need look no further than Capcom for proof of that.

Albaficas
Albaficas

 @Gooeykat well the kids who play those pile of craps cod start to grow up

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

 @Bleak5170 I haven't beaten a COD campaign since MW2 due to utter just god awful lack of quality or interest. At least MW2 had a good story, MW3 was just fucking stupid even with the "tragedy" of soap dying. And black ops, god, that shit was bad.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

 @wowwow27 COD can't be like far cry 3 because FC3 doesnt have enough run and gunning, purposely enclosed maps, and it doesnt have enough explosions.. FC3 is an actual game, COD is an arcade beat em up.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

 @LT21494 Maybe not. But I think the overall interest probably has waned off probably a bit sooner considering that there are far too many other better titles out nowadays to compete w/ gamers' attention. Sure it's making money and successful, but at the same time people aren't putting as much priority into as in the past due to it's oversaturation in market. 

 

 

thingta42
thingta42

 @VenkmanPHD  @Arian9

 MW2 showed me the series wasn't changing. The same old map design, the same old perks and level up system. Same old storyline. It's just usually a improve game each release

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

 @sharpshooter188  @Arian9 You can only name two WW2 games? Let's see, at least 15 medal of honor games, rtcw, DoD, DoD Source, WW2 online, Red Orchestra mod, Red orchestra game, brothers in arms, battlefield 1942, CoD 1, CoD 2, the list is endless.

sharpshooter188
sharpshooter188

 @Arian9 btw, apologies for the wall of text. I thought I broke it up but apparently my actual post didn't get the memo.