Call of Duty Franchise Shows Early Signs of Stagnation

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With over 40 million players across the Call of Duty franchise, the series has been the market leader for a while as far as mutliplayer gaming on consoles is concerned. However, early stages of market saturation might have been noticed recently.

Modern Warfare 3 sold over 6.5 million copies on launch day (in US and UK) compared to Black Ops’ 5.6 million, continuing the trend of year over year growth of every Call of Duty title. But, 2012 hasn’t been as kind to Modern Warfare 3. Analysts at Macquarie Equities have informed Gamasutra that “Modern Warfare 3 volume sales are behind by around 4.2 percent” compared to those of Black Ops at the same time last year. This indicates that Modern Warfare 3 is lagging behind Treyarch’s Black Ops by a slight margin, which should raise an eyebrow or two.

Earlier this year, Eric Hirshberg, Activision Publishing CEO, stated that one of the reasons why Modern Warfare 3 had weak sale numbers (in January) was due to sales “moving forward.” He explained, “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. ” He continued, “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.”

In March, it is rumored that Modern Warfare 3 sold less than half of what Black Ops moved during March 2011. Analysts at an investment bank and asset management firm, Piper Jaffray, on the other hand, had a different take on why Modern Warfare 3 isn’t selling as it was predicted. They suggested that causal gamers, who don’t buy games day one, are purchasing less games, and are using their consoles for media purposes instead (Netflix, Hulu, and such.) Further, Webush Securities’ Michael Pachter believes that gamers are gravitating towards buying games on day one, which means a thinner tail after the lunch window.

It should be noted that Call of Duty Elite adds an additional revenue stream tied to Modern Warfare 3 for Activision, and has over 1.5 million subscribers according the latest figures.

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