Activision Responds to Modern Warfare 3’s Weak January NPD Numbers

Activision Publishing CEO, Eric Hirshberg, explains why Modern Warfare 3 sales in January were significantly lower than Black Ops’ in the same month last year.

During January 2011, Blacks Ops sold 750,000 copies according to NPD figures. However, Modern Warfare 3 managed to only move 386,000 units, as reported by Gaming Bolt. This decline suggests that the franchise, which has over 40 million monthly players, might have hit its peak. When questioned regarding the aforementioned numbers, Eric Hirshberg stated, in an interview with, “I think they moved forward. We broke the record for the biggest day and the biggest first five days and the biggest first 16 days. That came as a result of us putting together a very effective pre-sale programme and a very effective launch. Part of that was we drew more buyers forward in the process which is a good thing because we’re convincing more people to buy it, some of them sight-unseen based on the past performance of the strength and fun of the franchise, and some of them very early as it comes out closest to launch. When you have such a successful pre-order programme and such a successful launch week I don’t think it’s surprising that the shape of the curve after that looks a little different than the year before.”

Hirshberg also mentioned that the competition Modern Warfare 3 faced during the holidays was stiff. He stated, “I would also say there was a lot of great competition in the fourth quarter, there was a lot of must have games that launched right around the same time, and there was also a lot of aggressive pricing activity, and those were two contributions as well.”

Hirshberg elaborated on Activision’s pricing model for Call of Duty titles. As you might have noticed, Call of Duty titles tend to retain their value longer than other games. Eric Hirshberg explained “That takes a stomach of steel because we haven’t really changed our pricing patterns to match or respond to a lot of the more aggressive stuff that’s going on elsewhere in the industry. But I believe in the value of games, there’s no other form of entertainment that delivers hundreds of hours of entertainment. They’re very costly to make, they’re very risky propositions and holding strong on the value they deliver is really important.”

Do you think that Call of Duty has run its course, and we will start to see a decline in future sales? Notably, Activision did promise “meaningful innovations” in this year’s title.

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