Activision has released guidance on what to expect for sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops when it releases later tonight via midnight launches, and they are keeping things conservative: they are telling investors to expect 20% fewer sales than what Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold, according to Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz. This is despite preorders for the game at both Amazon and Gamestop exceeding those of MW2, and actually falls in line with predictions made by Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, though reasons for such conservatism aren’t stated by Activision outright.
This is despite Activision’s massive investment into the launch, which is considered the largest launch investment ever by Activision.
As I stated when Mr. Pachter went off about what he perceived to be a biased press, I feel that the worries about press scores are overblown, especially considering the fact that early print reviews are coming out with nothing lower than a 9 so far (online reviews are embargoed until release). With that said, I don’t think 20% fewer is going to be the operative number, though I do think sales of the new game will not exceed those of the old game simply because the market is more competitive and because of perceptions that video games will not sell well at Christmas this year. I also have to wonder if the core audience is becoming fatigued to Call of Duty, which releases annually at this point, the way they have become fatigued to music games like Guitar Hero, though that’s purely speculation.