Is the ‘Call of Duty’ Franchise in Trouble?

By | 3 years ago 

Any quick poll of FPS gamers out there will tell you that the Call of Duty fan base is dwindling. Yet, the franchise is still a perennial top-seller, and continues to move millions of units in a very short span.

But this year, things are a little different — the franchise’s latest iteration, Call of Duty: Ghosts, didn’t hit quite the same marks as its predecessors. Moreover, publisher Activision hasn’t been actively trumpeting the various records their newest game broke.

While the comparisons between Call of Duty iterations isn’t always a fair one, the market-analysis firm of Cowen & Company suggests the sales numbers for Ghosts reveal something “troubling.” Their numbers point out, with no uncertainty, that the franchise is declining.

Although Activision expected sales to take a bit of a dive as gamers waited for next-gen versions of Ghosts, Cowen & Company’s analysis still shows this year’s game was well behind the curve:

“Upon further reflection, we think the [Call of Duty] numbers are a bit more troubling than they first appeared. While the year-over-year gap is only 19 percent thus far, that includes two extra weeks of sales for the 360 and PS3 versions [of Black Ops II]. Against 2011′s [Modern Warfare 3], where the difference is only one week, the title is down 32 percent life-to-date.”

Both Black Ops 2 and Modern Warfare 3 were juggernaut releases in their respective years, knocking any and all competition out of the water. That being said, Ghosts, while not a high benchmark, is still selling very well in its own right. But, the numbers show that the franchise as a whole is stalling, or at least is not hitting the same marks.

Call of Duty Ghosts soldiers

The analyst continues explaining that year-to-year, Ghosts could be 20-25% down on sales compared to its predecessor. There’s obviously no easy solution for course-correcting the Call of Duty franchise, but there is potential hope on the horizon. Treyarch‘s next Call of Duty title, which will hit sometime in the fall of 2014, could be the release that rights the ship, and here’s why.

For starters, Treyarch has now become the flagship developer for Call of Duty, putting together stronger narratives and iterating on the multiplayer in ways that evolve that addictive core concept. As well, they will have had an added year to work with the next-gen hardware, which will likely lead to a better looking end product. Maybe not Battlefield 4 pretty, but still more visually impressive than previous COD iterations.

They also don’t have to worry about gamers waiting on their purchase, as both the PS4 and Xbox One will already be almost a year old. Sure, the sales will be more segregated, but day 1 numbers should be higher.

The Call of Duty franchise is waning, but that doesn’t mean that downward trend can’t be corrected. However, if next year doesn’t show any change, it might be time for Activision and the franchise’s various developers to start thinking about radical reinventions.

Do you think that the Call of Duty franchise has lost its luster? Is there a way for Activision to turn things around?

Source: Venture Beat