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New 'Call of Duty' appears to be selling less than predecessor

November 30, 2012|By Ben Fritz
  • Indications are that "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" is selling fewer copies than previous "Call of Duty" games.
Indications are that "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" is selling… (Activision )

It's beginning to look like not as many gamers are answering the "Call of Duty" this year.

Though publisher Activision Blizzard has revealed very little sales data for the latest installment of the most successful franchise in the console video game business, mounting evidence indicates that this year's "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" is selling fewer copies than last year's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."

On Nov. 16, Activision reported that "Black Ops II" grossed more than $500 million worldwide on its first day. For the past three years, however, Activision has reported day one sales information only in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, making this year's data difficult to compare to past years.

In addition, over the past three years Activision has reported worldwide sales data for its "Call of Duty" games over the first five days. This year it did not.

At the Credit Suisse Technology Conference on Tuesday, Strauss Zelnick, chief executive of Activision competitor Take-Two Interactive, told a group of investors and analysts, "The most recent ['Call of Duty'] title has not performed as well as last year's title, as I understand it."

And in a reprt released Thursday, Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia estimated that sales for "Black Ops II" will ultimately sell 10% to 15% less than "Modern Warfare 3" based on current trends.

"Modern Warfare 3" initially sold more than the prior year's "Call of Duty" sequel "Black Ops," but ended up selling less, according to analysts.

The apparent slowdown in sales for the blockbuster military shooter franchise is surely troubling for Activision and its shareholders. The slippage comes as Activision has also seen declines in the number of subscribers to its "World of Warcraft" online game, though combination game/toy franchise "Skylanders" has been a growing success for the company.

Bhatia downgraded Activision stock from "buy" to "neutral," noting that "weakness in this franchise ['Call of Duty'] is cause for concern."

An Activision spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

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