Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare sales figures called into question

The lack of firm sales figures for the latest instalment of the Call of Duty franchise, Advanced Warfare, has prompted analysts to question whether the series is on the decline and - if so - what this means for the rest of the gaming industry.

While a statement put out by Activision said the entire franchise's sales had topped $10 billion since the first Call of Duty game was released in 2003, the release did not call out specific sales numbers, only stating the game was the "biggest entertainment launch of the year".

Further doubt that sales are not living up to expectation was cast in a report on Forbes. It stated that since last year the firm has not released sales figures for Call of Duty franchise games. Previously, the firm would share sales figures within a day of the launch or when sales hit $1 billion.

While Activision said Advanced Warfare had outperformed Call of Duty: Ghost, firm sales figures for that release weren't forthcoming either, according to the report.

Writing in Forbes, Paul Tassi said - reading between the lines - the statements put out by Activision "implied it had sold less early on than many other titles in franchise history.

"Now, if AW [Advanced Warfare] bested Black Ops 2, for example, we would absolutely be hearing about it," said Tassi.

Despite the lack of sales figures, Activision said there were more than 370 million online matches played during the first week of release and levelling up took place over 200 million times in Advanced Warfare online multiplayer mode.

Analysts questioned whether the game's popularity has peaked. In September Cowen and Company analyst Doug Cruetz said that it was his belief that "pre-orders need to accelerate significantly over the next few weeks or else the evidence for meaningfully weaker performance by Advanced Warfare vs. Ghosts will, in our opinion, become too strong to rationalise."

Declining sales, not just from Call of Duty, but other PC and console games, have coincided with the rise of free to play games on tablets and smartphones, often made by smaller producers on tighter budgets.

Also, constant rehashes of franchises that offer little in terms of development also appear to be putting off gamers in search of new experiences.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.