Call of Duty: Ghosts dispute causes UK retailer to stop stocking Activision games

Activision and ShopTo butt heads over dispatching games ahead of street date.

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A UK retailer has pledged to stop selling Activision games after a dispute over stock allocation for the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts.

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ShopTo, a specialist online retailer in the UK, is unhappy with Activision refusing to allow it to dispatch Call of Duty games more than a day in advance, which the retailer claims upsets customers by forcing the copies to arrive through the letterbox days after launch.

Speaking to Eurogamer, ShopTo CEO Igor Cipolletta said that "Activision's policy of only allowing e-tailers to dispatch one day before release date effectively destroys an e-tailer's pre-order campaign," adding that "many deliveries inevitably arrive post-release date."

"This has the undesired effect of previously loyal and satisfied customers thinking that, if we can't 'get it right' for one of the biggest games of the year, why should they trust us with any future orders?"

"Their friends and acquaintances, by word of mouth and social media, (despite possibly not having ever ordered from us), would see us (and possibly e-tailers as a whole) as unreliable. This despite all the time and hard work my team and the myriad of other publishers put into other titles during the year."

"Of course this Activision policy is not for every title," continued Cipolletta, "but due to the volume and fever pitch Call of Duty seems to generate (both positive and negative), it causes the most damage to us."

Call of Duty: Ghosts is not listed on ShopTo's website at time of writing, and neither is Activision's upcoming titles Deadpool and Skylanders Swap Force. Previously released Activision games are still being sold.

Activision is unlikely to yield and allow ShopTo dispatch Call of Duty: Ghosts any earlier, according to Eurogamer's report, and the publisher is frustrated by online retailers breaking the street date of its games. Last November UK retailer SimplyGames publicly pledged to ship out early copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops II the weekend before the game was released.

Cipolletta, who says Activision's decision to launch Call of Duty games on Tuesday forces online retailers to pay staff extra to work the previous weekend, concluded by blasting Activision for its retailing decisions for the Call of Duty series especially and has called its attempt to sell the games in previous years a "complete failure".

"Unfortunately," said Cipolletta, "our experience with the Call Of Duty series in the past four years is that our campaigns have been extremely difficult to engender a supportable level of customer satisfaction and in regards to profit, a complete failure".

Call of Duty: Ghosts will be released for current and next-generation platforms later this year, though presumably not at ShopTo. Activision will show off the first gameplay footage of the game as Microsoft debuts its next-generation Xbox on May 21.

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