To some, the yearly releases in the Call of Duty series is becoming a tiresome trend that is diluting the appeal of the FPS genre. However, if recent sales figures are any indication, the attraction remains intact among the masses. Call of Duty: Black Ops II was released back in November to the usual fanfare and hype that has surrounded prior entries in the series, however this game promised something different. The new futuristic setting provided the potential for all kinds of interesting gadgets and weapons, the non-linear structure of some of the missions helped flesh out the campaign and the returning zombies and competitive multiplayer modes rounded out the package. While the sales might not surpass those of previous entries, and the series seems to be hitting a downward trajectory, there is no arguing that the Call of Duty cannon is still packing plenty of gunpowder.
The Call of Duty series has typically been a strong first-day seller, with a solid amount of pre-orders and midnight launches ensuring that eager fans will get their fix on day one. The sales figures paint both an optimistic picture for the game itself and a pessimistic one for the series as a whole. Black Ops II generated over $500 million in sales within the first 24 hours, surpassing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 by $100 million. The sales totals for the first 15 days have topped $1 billion, which shows faster sales than its predecessor. However, some speculate that the overall sales totals for Black Ops II will ultimately be lower than the two previous games, continuing the decline. Analysts predict that the decrease in sales will be approximately 10 to 15 percent lower than Modern Warfare 3, which sold about 5 percent less than the first Black Ops. This is a trend that some can dismiss as being typical for a long-running series, while the Call of Duty detractors will likely see this as further proof that the franchise is a sinking ship.
So what could be the cause of this decline? My guess would be series fatigue and a saturated market, coupled with only minor variations between the releases. Each series has a unique campaign and offers something different in the multiplayer modes, however the differences aren’t strong enough to offset the “been there, done that” feeling that many fans, myself included, are begining to experience. The pretty wrapping might change, but the overall package largely remains the same. How Black Ops II will sell over the long term is anyone’s guess, however it’s hard to balk at $1 billion in sales, even with the downward trend. The lowest performing Call of Duty title still rivals the top sellers, so fans can take some comfort in knowing that the demand is still strong.