As you’d expect when any major news story breaks in the video games industry, there are those ready to analyse it in the smallest of details with many quick to herald negative press as being first sign of the end of the world and the mark of the second coming of the great video games crash. It’s no wonder then that analysts and “experts” have picked up on the latest announcement that figures have reported that sales figures of the physical version of the latest instalment in Activision’s Call Of Duty series are down by 50%. Does this mark the end for one of gaming’s longest-running franchise or is there more to it than that?
There’s no denying the fact that Call Of Duty has been with us for a long time. First released in 2003 as a Windows only first-person shooter set during the Second World War, it’s changed somewhat over the years. As well as its natural progression onto consoles, it’s moved into modern times, futuristic settings, added zombies (and what game hasn’t these days?), seen spin-off releases onto handheld systems… it’s been a pretty eventful time and has seen well over 20 games in just over a decade.
It’s been hard for Activision to keep the franchise fresh during that time and despite the game having a loyal fanbase and the series making its move into the world of eSports it has struggled to offer something truly unique as the publishers strive to offer an annual title for games, in the same way that EA does with its continual FIFA releases. Certainly many have asked the question whether Activision really need to release new iterations of the game so frequently, although that is a question for another time.
That brings me onto the latest news about Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The reports have indicated that physical sales of the current release are down 50% on the previous title in the series, Call Of Duty: Black Ops III. On first reading this, you’d be forgiven in thinking that this is the first sign that the future of the series could be at risk. If sales are down, the question has to be asked whether or not Activision are making sufficient profits to ensure that they can continue development of further games in the series. On closer inspection of the details, it’s not as bleak as it first seems though…
Firstly, while physical sales are down, as with many games right now digital sales of the game are up 25% on 2015’s title. While this doesn’t compensate completely for the overall total, there is one other key factor that has been forgotten about by many who are forecasting the end of the series… the hardware. Black Ops III was released for Windows, PS3, XBox 360, PS4 and XBox One. In contrast, Infinite Warfare has only been released for Windows, PS4 and XBox One. While many gamers will have switched from the older Sony and Microsoft consoles, there is still no denying that this is a large user base that is potentially no longer able to buy the new Call Of Duty game with over 160m consoles sold between the two formats according the sale figures from VGChartz.
Activision will no doubt be watching the situation closely, as well as the reaction to the game from critics and fans alike, but the real deciding factor for the future of the franchise will be the 2017 chapter in the saga. For the first time, the PS4 and XBox One will have to stand on their own as console platforms and it is only then that they will have to prove that they have the fan loyalty to carry the brand forward. If there is still a sales decline then, and only then could we be looking at a gaming future without any more Call Of Duty games…
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I’m an animal lover and vegetarian.
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