It wasn't surprising to see Activision's blockbuster Call of Duty: Black Ops atop the industry-tracking NPD Group's November US retail sales chart yesterday. However, industry analysts this morning released notes to investors that offered some additional perspective on the scope of the game's success.
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter noted that US sales of Black Ops (announced by NPD as 8.4 million for November) suggest global sales for the month of roughly 14 million, or over $900 million. If 14 million copies of the game were sold to consumers in November, Pachter said Black Ops will have no problem exceeding the sales of Modern Warfare 2 by a large margin, as last year Activision had shipped only 16 million copies of the game for November and December combined, much less sold through them.
In his own note to investors, Pacific Crest's Evan Wilson upped his Black Ops sales projection from 16 million copies generating $841 million to 20 million copies and a cool $1 billion of revenue for Activision. Wilson said Activision titles like DJ Hero 2 and James Bond 007: Blood Stone have been struggling to meet expectations but said Black Ops alone makes Activision a cut above its industry peers.
"On a relative basis, it is still a mansion in a trailer park," Wilson said of Activision.
While Black Ops excelled, mild disappointment was a recurring theme in the analysts' NPD reactions. Even the second-best seller of the month, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, was labeled "modestly disappointing" by Wilson, because the game failed to match the first-month sales from last year's entry in the series, Assassin's Creed II. Wilson acknowledged that part of that was due to the lack of PSP and DS tie-ins this year, but mainly attributed the shortfall to disappointing sales of the console versions. However, he did note that he expects the game's sales to grow year-over-year in Europe.
Wilson also expressed disappointment in sales of Kinect games. Despite the hype Microsoft's motion-sensing camera system generated, Wilson said software for the unit totaled sales of $57 million, or about 4 percent of game sales for the month. Wilson didn't weigh in on the peripheral's most highly promoted titles, but he did say that Electronic Arts' third-person shooter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (the 360 version of which supports Kinect) was another disappointment, as the blockbuster movie tie-in sold fewer than 100,000 copies.
Kinect hardware fared better, with Pachter saying about half of Xbox 360 hardware sales purchased in November were bundles including the camera peripheral, enough to outsell Sony's Move-equipped PS3 hardware bundles by a ratio of 5:1.