Now that Activision Blizzard has posted financial results for the Q2 period of their 2012 fiscal year, video game analysts are starting to wonder if the Call of Duty franchise has officially ended its growth period. One major point of concern for investors seems to be total lifetime sales of 2011’s Modern Warfare 3, which hasn’t caught up to 2010’s Black Ops quite yet.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, the economy in general will be a thorn in Activision Blizzard’s side during the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and the developer/publisher may be limited returns on the title when it releases on November 13th.
Moreover, the following points were outlined by senior analyst Ben Schachter (of Macquarie Securities) as major reasons to suggest that first-person shooters have gotten “tired” and Black Ops 2 will lose players as result:
- HD hardware and software as a whole have been declining all year
- Lifetime unit sales of Modern Warfare 3 are slightly below Black Ops
- The genre seems tired
- The futursitic setting may not have the same appeal for some
- The macro economic environment is causing some gamers to hold back on upgrades
- Currency fluctuations mean that European sales are worth less to ATVI shareholders
Michael Pachter (Wedbush Securities) and Colin Sebastian (RW Baird) also believe that Call of Duty has hit it’s peak, but they were a bit more diplomatic about it, saying that the franchise is still a sales monster. Even with competition from Battlefield, Medal of Honor, and Halo 4, Activision Blizzard’s FPS is still the industry leader, and will likely remain so:
“Also, 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.“ — Sebastian
Additionally, retail sales might not even the best way to measure Call of Duty‘s (or any FPS title’s) future success, says DFC Intelligence’s Jeremy Miller and TechSavvy Global CEO Scott Steinberg. As more and more people play the game exclusively online with download-only access, the series could replace whatever it loses in physical sales.
Irregardless, the common line of thought seems to be that Call of Duty is done breaking sales records. We’ll have to wait and see.