Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Call of Duty a big seller but industry in a slump

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EVEN another record-setting Call of Duty launch can't snap the video game industry out of its sales funk.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II generated more than $1 billion in sales in its first 15 days in stores, publisher Activison says. The game, launched Nov. 13, made the fastest sprint yet to the $1 billion mark for the multibillion-dollar first-person shooter franchise.

Black Ops II eclipsed by one day last year's record set by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which hit $1 billion in sales after 16 days, based on sales figures from Activision's internal estimates and retail data from Chart-Track. The 2010 release Call of Duty: Black Ops topped the $1 billion mark after about a month.

Still, analysts expect a drop in video-game sales from November 2011, when market researcher The NPD Group releases its November 2012 report tomorrow.

Console game sales have declined as fewer hit games have been released and, says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, the popping of a "bubble" created by an influx of casual gamers who bought Nintendo Wiis.

Last November, video-game software sales rose 15 per cent, to $1.67 billion, thanks to hit titles, including Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3.

This month's drop comes despite the Call of Duty franchise and other multi-million sellers like Halo 4 and Assassin's Creed III -- plus the launch of Nintendo's new console, the Wii U. Consumers snapped up 400,000 Wii Us in the first week of the system's availability.

But that's not enough for this November, says Stern Agee analyst Arvid Bhatia, who lowered the firm's estimate from a five per cent drop for November to 15 per cent below last year. He also says that Call of Duty: Black Ops II sales are high, but not as good as they could have been.

"Both difficult comparisons and slower than expected sales of Call of Duty are factors in our November estimate being lowered," Bhatia says.

Pachter estimated November sales would fall about two per cent below last year.

 

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2012 B11

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