Bungie's next could sell 20 million - Analyst

Michael Pachter believes move to multiplatform could turn studio's Activision series into a Call of Duty-size megafranchise; next Call of Duty sales pegged at 13 million.

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Last Friday, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey predicted Call of Duty: Black Ops could sell as much as 18 million units--2 million shy of Modern Warfare 2's 20 million-unit milestone. The same day, one of Hickey's colleagues made an even bolder prediction for a franchise that hasn't even been unveiled yet.

Bungie's next game is all but assured to be a blockbuster.
Bungie's next game is all but assured to be a blockbuster.

In his note responding to Activision Blizzard's earnings, Wedbush's Michael Pachter outlined 2011's Activision lineup. In it, he addressed the faint possibility that Bungie's next game could be released next year.

Said Pachter, "We are especially excited about the new game from Bungie (not formally announced for 2011, but a possibility), as the studio has a long history of proven blockbusters. We think that a multiplatform game from Bungie has the potential to deliver sales on par with the most successful franchises in history and conceivably could sell as many as 20 million units." He quickly added there has been no sign that Bungie's next title will arrive next year.

When Activision and Bungie announced their 10-year exclusivity deal in April, they underlined the fact the franchise would be developed for "all platforms," including the PlayStation 3. Previously, the studio's Halo games were exclusive to the Xbox and Xbox 360, with Halo: Reach selling 3.3 million units on the latter platform in just two weeks.

Pachter also weighed in on the Call of Duty first-person shooter, which Activision confirmed will be released in late 2011. Though it is possible that two Call of Duty games could be released next year, the analyst believes that if there is only one, it "will be a challenge for it to sell 13 million units, particularly if the title is from [internal studio] Sledgehammer [Games]. While the staff at Sledgehammer are all veterans, they are unproven as a team, and the next game that they release will be their first together."

Sledgehammer Games was founded in 2009 when Activision hired away two top Dead Space developers from Electronic Arts. The shop was slated to bring the Call of Duty series into the action adventure genre but was revealed to be working on a first-person entry in the series in May. In his note, Hickey stated he believed development of Modern Warfare 3 is underway at Sledgehammer, although court documents had it being in the works at series creator Infinity Ward as of May.

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