Is this the untimely end of CoD?
According to a report from CNBC, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare sold fewer physical copies than its predecessor, Black Ops III. This news comes as little surprise, considering the tepid critical and fan reaction to Infinite Warfare. Day-one impressions were primarily negative, with the conversation surrounding the game only getting worse since its release earlier last month.
Sales dropped almost 50% from last year, falling “17% shy of expectations,” according to Doug Creutz, a gaming analyst from the Cowen Group. This was corroborated by a second, anonymous Wall Street source. “[According to the source,] November’s NPD Call of Duty unit sales were down 51 year over year,” writes CNBC’s Tae Kim. Although this news comes from American sales data, the UK also saw a 48% sales drop.
The report comes from the privately released November 2016 NPD sales data, which tracks sell-through information; not copies shipped to stores, but rather copies purchased by consumers. However, NPD data does not currently track digital sales, so it’s possible that people are finally beginning to embrace the all-digital future. After all, brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling. But if Call of Duty was so white-hot on the PlayStation and Xbox digital stores, you can bet Activision would’ve put that in a press release already.
The disappointing sales of Infinite Warfare, coupled with a drop in Activision stock, could motivate the company to give the series a break, à la Assassin’s Creed. If next year’s Call of Duty turns out to be really good, will that be enough to reverse the franchise’s downward trend? I doubt it — the most interesting part of this year’s package was Modern Warfare Remastered, which probably doesn’t bode well.
Activision did not return CNBC’s requests for comment, so I doubt they’ll get back to us either. We’ll ask anyway, though.