Report: Call of Duty: Black Ops II's first-year sales could be down 15% from previous years
Yesterday, I ran a piece in which Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick expressed doubts about the annual nature of the COD franchise, stating that fans could very well become "tired" of the series as a result. We might be seeing evidence of that already.
An analyst with Sterne Agee, Arvind Bhatia, believes that the series is in decline, and that sales of Black Ops II could drop by as much as 15% over previous iterations of the franchise. Although the game generated around $500 million in sales on its first day at retail, Bhatia argues that closer inspection of retail channels reveals some rather troubling figures.
"We believe unit sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops II are tracking down double digits year-over-year. Our checks show initial sales at some retailers were down as much as 20%. Subsequently, it appears sales of CoD did pick up a bit over the Thanksgiving holiday. We think the current sales curve suggests that Black Ops II unit sales in its first year could ultimately be down 10-15% year-over-year."
"If we are right," continued Bhatia, "This would be the second year in a row this critical franchise will have seen units decline (Modern Warfare 3 is down an estimated 5% versus Black Ops). We estimate that CoD generates 40-45% of the company's EBIT on an annual basis, and it goes without saying that the weakness in this franchise is a cause for concern."
Bhatia did note, however, that sales of the game may have been impacted by a number of factors.
"We think there are possibly three reasons for the weakness in Black Ops II:
- We note that the ratings for the game, on average, were slightly lower than Modern Warfare 3, which may have impacted initial sell-through.
- Black Ops II launched only a week after Halo 4, which could have impacted its sales.
- Black Ops II launched a week before Thanksgiving, which may have caused some consumers to delay purchases in anticipation of potential deals/discounts."
Still, even if the series is in decline, it's not going anywhere any time soon. The biggest problem facing Activision at the moment, Bhatia mused, is the stiff competition the franchise is likely to see from other, similar franchises.
Source: GamesIndustry International
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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