Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz has said that the comparatively lukewarm critical reception to Call of Duty: Ghosts is unlikely to dent the game’s sales.
"By and large, most titles’ commercial fates are decided well before the first review comes out,” he said, as reported by CVG. Otherwise, we would not be able to use pre-launch data from Amazon and predict actual sales with a fair degree of accuracy.
"We think COD has become such an embedded franchise that it is somewhat review-proof. We think of COD as being like EA’s Madden NFL, which continues to sell similar unit numbers year in and year out, regardless of reviews; Madden’s Metacritic has ranged as low as 78 in recent years.
"Ultimately, we don’t think that sales of this year’s [COD] title will be impacted enormously by these reviews.”
However, Creutz does admit to worries about the series’ long-term future.
Our concern lies more with next year, when Call of Duty will face competition from several new next-gen shooters, including EA’s Titanfall and Activision’s own Destiny,” he added. To the degree that COD may become a bit of a ‘been there done that’ experience for gamers, we think it is vulnerable to losing share as new product enters the market."
What may be more of an immediate concern to Activision, however, is the fate suffered by nearly every other annual/regular triple-A IP this year.
Games such as FIFA 14, Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed IV have all seen sales fall dramatically year-on-year. All publishers will be desperately hoping that gamers are simply holding out for the next-gen versions, but it’s far from certain whether PS4 and Xbox One uptake will be strong enough to compensate for the declines.