The all too popular Call of Duty franchise is no stranger to harsh critics. Even members of its own fan base have been vocal about the rinse, wash, repeat cycle that has started becoming increasingly apparent with every new installment that the series sees. Now, Call of Duty followers across the globe are preparing for Black Ops 2, and despite the minor graphical updates and other refinements, some analysts are saying that Activision’s juggernaut may have “peaked.”
Analyst Ben Schachter from Macquarie Securities certainly believes this to be the case, and he doesn’t think the series will continue on the upward trend it’s followed for the past several years. Schater stated that his company has “significant concerns that CoD may have peaked in 2011,” and he lists several reasons why this may be the case. Everything from rapid currency fluctuations to a general industry sales decline are said to impact the blockbuster FPS, and the fact that Modern Warfare 3 failed to beat Black Ops in sales is another indication that things are no longer on the up.
Not to be outdone by Schachter, the infamous Michael Pachter chimed in on the topic, and agreed with the Macquarie Securities analyst.
“[CoD] was (and probably still is) the best multiplayer experience available, [but] Battlefield multiplayer probably cannibalized it a little bit, and this year, Halo and Medal of Honor could cannibalize CoD a bit more. Next year, another Battlefield, plus the Respawn and Bungie games, probably cannibalize it a bit more.”
“There’s nothing wrong with 22 million units sold, or with 19 million or 16 million. CoD will remain the best selling game (at least until GTA) and Activision shouldn’t be concerned if it loses some players at the margin. They created a phenomenon, and others are emulating them.”
Yet another analyst, RW Baird’s Colin Sebastian, also believes that the franchise has reached its climax.
“… If new consoles are coming next year, that is typically a disruptive period for game sales, and that could drive sales lower as well, at least temporarily. The bigger question I think is whether the franchise (or any franchise) is in a continuous period of decline. Personally, I don’t know which competing console title would take so much share from Call of Duty.”
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will without a doubt be one of the biggest selling video games (if not the biggest selling video game) of 2012, but each of these analysts makes a good point. Interest for the series has declined according to long-term sales numbers, and interest in MW3‘s downloadable content is not up to par with the DLC of past CoD titles either.
On a brighter note, there are currently 2.3 million premium Call of Duty Elite members, as well as an additional 12 million users who have registered for the service. Judging on the program’s apparent success, it’s unlikely that Activision will be scrapping the fan-favorite program anytime soon. Still, even with declining sales numbers, an abundance of first-person shooters, and fluctuating dollar values, Activision will find success with Call of Duty for many more years to come.
The next CoD game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, will launch on November 13, and its release should provide valuable insight into whether or not the franchise can maintain its notoriety for demolishing sales records.
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