One thing that’s been reliable in gaming over the last few years is that every year, there’s a new Call of Duty, and every year, it sells a ridiculous number of copies. However, there have been signs of strain on the franchise; Ghosts had problems out of the gate and wound up selling only more than half of what Black Ops II pushed out the door. And Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is supposedly going to continue that trend.
As the Escapist reports, analysts from Cowan and Company believe the series is on the decline. They base this on the fact that preorders through Amazon have been steadily declining for the series, and are fairly low for Advanced Warfare compared to the other installments.
Of course, this does need to be appended with a big honkin’ asterisk, since even these analysts think it’s going to easily outsell the biggest game this year so far, Destiny. Nobody thinks this will tank, just that it’s not going to sell nearly as many copies as the franchise’s heights, which will still mean it sells twenty million copies with ease. But I am a bit skeptical of this analysis for a few reasons.
First of all, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is arriving in the middle of a gaming desert. Especially for multiplayer fans, and that’s most of the franchise’s fan base, there just isn’t much short of, well, Destiny. Compare that to last year, when Grand Theft Auto V crushed everything in its path. The closest FPS competition is Far Cry 4, which has staked out mid-November as its day, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, which has been out for two weeks. Next-gen consoles don’t have a lot of options.
Secondly, preorders, while a useful barometer, are not bulletproof. Destiny was the most widely preordered new IP of all time, its absurdly fancy editions were going for thousands on eBay… and it’s barely kissed five million copies sold based on the data one can dig up about it.
Finally, it might simply be that Call of Duty can’t fight the industry problem nobody’s talking about. The bewildering trend of console sales outstripping the sales of games continues apace. People are not buying games to go with their consoles, and nobody’s quite sure why.
So, while Activision is probably concerned, one doubts Advanced Warfare is the end of Call of Duty. But it might be a hint at a larger problem in the gaming industry.