With the recent release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision is sure to have another hit on their hands. It's pretty much a given that they will sell millions of copies and it'll be on top of the charts for weeks to come. Frustratingly enough, why does a game franchise as mediocre and iterative as Call of Duty sell well even when reviews are so average?
Who are you calling mediocre, punk?
Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz believes that reviews have little to no impact on a series like Call of Duty. In an interview given to Games Industry International, Creutz believes that the games industry media has become somewhat burnt out on reviewing the series, hence the reason it has drifted into middling review scores territory. Also, because the titles are so iterative, they're hesitant to give it higher review scores.
I find that theory hard to believe. There may be a certain amount of apathy towards a title that comes out yearly, but using this logic, a hypothetical Call of Duty title that is legitimately good, will swing to average because of reviewer apathy? Would a crap Call of Duty game review higher? I don't necessarily think so.
He also reckons that by the time the reviews of the game come out, people have already plunked down cash to pre-order the title. I don't know about you, but I have cancelled pre-orders on poorly reviewed games many times, moving the funds to a different pre-order or just for store credit. Apparently Creutz believes that many gamers do not practice this.
Creutz goes on to compare, the Call of Duty franchise to Madden and rightfully so. He goes on to say that, "...think of CoD as being like EA's Madden NFL, which continues to sell similar unit numbers year in and year out, regardless of reviews; Madden's Metacritic has ranged as low as 78 in recent years."
Madden 25: Exceptionally Average
That seems pretty logical to me, however, Creuz takes it further by saying that Call of Duty's days may be numbered when new franchises like Titanfall and Destiny hit. I agree with this as in my humble opinion, Call of Duty doesn't have much competition today, with the sole exception being EA's Battlefield.
So in the end, competition is a good thing. Who would have thought? All in all, it's not so much that games like Madden and CoD are review proof, it's that your options are severely limited. Want to play a military based FPS, you got either CoD or Battlefield. Want to play an NFL football game? You got Madden and uhhhhhhhhhh, you got my point? Throw in some healthy competition and these games are no longer "review proof".
I do have one question for the community though. Do you pre-order and have you ever cancelled a pre-order due to poor previews or low review score? Let me know in the comments. Is Creutz's assertion valid?