Analyst: Black Ops II on pace for record sales

Cowen & Company industry watcher says post-holiday sales of latest Call of Duty game tracking better than Modern Warfare 3.


Call of Duty: Black Ops II is on pace to become the best-selling entry in Activision's military shooter series to date, according to one analyst.

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In a note to investors today, Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz said post-holiday sales trends for Black Ops II have been "significantly better" than those for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Thanks to this sales jolt, Black Ops II will likely surpass the original Black Ops' estimated life-to-date sales of 25 million units to become the franchise's overall top performer.

Activision has confirmed a new Call of Duty game for 2013, but has yet to divulge any details about the project. In an earnings call in February, Activision Blizzard CFO Dennis Durkin said the company does not expect sales of this game to match Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

Activision Blizzard will report earnings for its latest quarter on May 8. Creutz believes the company will outperform guidance thanks to in-line or better-than-expected sales of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Skylanders.

The analyst expects World of Warcraft to have lost as many as 300,000 subscribers during the latest quarter, though this attrition is in-line with expectation. The game had 9.6 million paying members at the end of December.

Creutz described 2013 as a "bridge year" for Activision Blizzard, with strong earnings expected in 2014-2015 thanks to Bungie's Destiny, Blizzard Entertainment's Titan MMO, and the new console cycle.

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