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The kingpin of video game sales for the past decade has been Call of Duty. While usurpers like GTA V and Wii Sports attempted to take the crown, the Call of Duty franchise continued along unphased. Even when the latest entry in the franchise, Infinite Warfare, was met with disdain from some fans after its announcement, no one would suspect it would actually effect Activision’s bottom line.
Maybe it was that lackluster response, or a crowded holiday market, or a sudden spike in digital sales, but Infinite Warfare’s sale dropped 50% compared to Black Ops 3 sales from last year. That’s 17% short of what Activision expected to sell and generally COD does pretty well with physical releases. These numbers do come from NPB, which only tracks physical copies, so there is the chance digital sales closed some of that gap. It should also be noted that, despite the more crowded market, other games aren’t rushing in to fill that sales gap.
Even if you didn’t like Infinite Warfare, or wish COD would evolve and change, or just wish Activision would put their money elsewhere, a decline of this magnitude in such an established franchise isn’t good news for anyone. It’s hard to explain why really, console sales continue to set records for both Sony and Microsoft, and overall the gaming market is flooded with amazing choices as of late. Maybe more people are investing more time with fewer games. Or maybe the market isn’t as saturated as we all hoped. Or maybe it’s just an off year altogether.