Call of Duty Was the Top-Selling Console Franchise, Again, in 2016

Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare combine to push Call of Duty to No. 1.

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With 2016 concluded, we're beginning to get details on sales data for the full year. Following new NPD and ESA reports, Activision has now proclaimed that Call of Duty was the top-grossing console franchise in the world last year.

Specifically, Activision described Call of Duty as the "top-selling console video game franchise globally for 2016 based on revenue." It notes this is the eighth year in a row that's been the case in the US, and the seventh time in the last eight years that it's been true worldwide.

It's worth pointing out the specificity of its language: This definition doesn't have it competing with super-successful PC or mobile games, and it's talking in terms of revenue. That leaves the door open for another series to have come out on top in terms of unit sales.

When contrasted with last year's statement announcing similar news, one other thing stands out. Whereas this one talks broadly about the Call of Duty franchise as a whole, last year's spoke specifically about the newest game, Black Ops III. Activision described it as the "top-selling title of 2015 globally by a wide-margin in both units and dollars sold-through." In the US during 2016, Black Ops III was also one of the best-selling games, helping to contribute to Call of Duty's No. 1 spot.

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That 2016's Infinite Warfare experienced a sales decline came as no surprise, as a comparison between a new sub-series and the established Black Ops was never going to be pretty. But what was noteworthy was the extent of that dip: Physical sales were reportedly down 50 percent year-over-year. An industry-wide trend of digital sales making up a bigger piece of the pie may have helped to offset this decline to some extent. The same can also likely be said for Infinite Warfare's special editions, which started in price at $80 and are the only way to obtain the remastered version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

"Call of Duty is the #1 console franchise worldwide in 2016," Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said in a press release. "We're thankful to our players for once again putting Call of Duty on top, and we recognize how rare this is to do year after year. That's why we push to deliver innovations and incredible gameplay that are worthy of the best fans in the world time and again. And we have an exciting year ahead in 2017."

For more on the best-selling games of 2016 in the US, check out our coverage of the latest NPD report.

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