OPINION: COD’s numbers don’t matter, it’s COD culture that counts

Every conflicting statement about Black Ops II on the cover of this week’s MCV is true.

Strip away the spin, pride or expectations and the numbers still make it clear. This was the best performing game of the year.

Some quarters wondered – or hoped, even – that this might not be the case. Just hours after the midnight launches MCV staff were badgered for some inside scoop on the progress.

‘Is it true the midnight launches at Retailer X were quiet?’

‘My mate at Publisher Y says the allocations were tight.’

‘What’s this I hear from Writer Z about the game being a stiff?’

Can this, finally, be the chance we have to watch Activision fail?

No. Black Ops II was another victory for gamers, for retailers, for the company that still believes in big budget blockbusters.

Sure, concerns that Call of Duty faces imminent disruption do hold weight.

Disruption #1: When CoD returns next year, it will likely do so alongside new consoles.

Disruption #2: It will arrive after another year of growth in F2P and mobile.

Disruption #3: CoD hits its tenth birthday in 2013, an opportunity to say it is ‘tired’.

Disruption #4: Battlefield 4.

Those concerns, plus a slight decline in the numbers, suggest we should worry.

But over time the numbers have mattered less and less for Call of Duty.

Sure, the numbers get Reuters or Forbes to look down from their pious platforms to give games culture some love. But CoD’s journey is now a cultural one; it’s the namechecks in movies, stand-up routines and in current affairs shows; it’s the online buzz from a passionate audience. It’s the stuff you can’t pay for.

That’s why zombies, competitive gaming, and headset manufacturers – unlikely heroes in a time of doom-sayers and tight budgets – have been an increasingly prominent part of the Duty business.

Activision’s efforts have been led by its audience, and in the UK well over one and half million people so far bought the new Call of Duty.

That’s the only statistic you need.

Originally published on MCVUK.com.

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