It’s a test many followers of the games industry subject Call of Duty to on an annual basis: Will Activision’s first-person shooter franchise, which exploded commercially after 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, continue to push the boundaries of record-breaking sales?

It’s passed unequivocally in the last three years: Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, and Modern Warfare 3 have successively generated  the largest 24-hour openings in entertainment history, and last year saw Call of Duty: Black Ops surpass Wii Play as the best-selling video game of all-time. Today, with Call of Duty: Black Ops II releasing in less than a week, Activision has set the bar for its next game even higher.

Speaking during Activision Blizzard’s Q3 earnings call today, Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision’s publishing unit, optimistically suggested that Call of Duty: Black Ops II could overtake its 2010 predecessor as the best-selling video game of all time.

Black Ops 2 Best Selling All Time

Hirschberg presented a litany of promising marketing data — a Forbes brand loyalty list where Call of Duty ranked 7th worldwide; pre-order numbers for Black Ops II outpacing Modern Warfare 3 (the most pre-ordered game of — you guessed it — all time); YouTube and Facebook traffic for Black Ops II showing significant spikes — and made his case for the innovation Black Ops II is contributing to the franchise:

“Black Ops II had several meaningful innovations and firsts for the franchise. One key innovation has been the decision to take Call of Duty into the near future, which has opened up many new play mechanics, new weapons and new story opportunities. We believe Black Ops II is a shining example of keeping the Call of Duty franchise fresh, exciting and engaging, while still staying true to its core appeal.”

That Activision is hyping Call of Duty: Black Ops II in an investor conference call just days before the game is set to launch shouldn’t be surprising. But their optimism is far from blind. Call of Duty has rebuked predictions of sales declines, fading popularity, and secret-communist-Moon-base desperation storylines for years now, and Activision’s efforts to increase its societal exposure (think Call of Duty Elite and today’s announcement of YouTube live streaming for Black Ops II) have only a boon for longevity.

We’ll find out how well Call of Duty: Black Ops II is received soon enough, when it releases on November 13, 2012 for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, and November 18th for the Wii U.

Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Source: Seeking Alpha