Despite the seemingly growing emphasis publishers place on pre-orders, they are in fact in decline.
That's according to Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg who told investors, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha, that Call of Duty is just one of many titles to see a decline in pre-orders in 2014.
You see the secular downturn across the industry as it relates to pre-orders, and Call of Duty is not immune to that,” he said. However, within that context, we still expect the Call of Duty to lead the industry in pre-orders once again this year.
And also, like with Destiny, we also look at other metrics as well and we're seeing a lot of strength in those metrics, particularly, we have an internal quantitative consumer study and we're seeing purchase intent for Advanced Warfare to be significantly above that which we saw in Ghost, and actually in line with our past top-performing titles.
I think, it's also important to remember that we're still a ways from our launch and we have yet to reveal some of the most important elements of the game to the community who tends to like multiplayer and some of our best pre-orders are yet to come.”
Remember that last year Activision reported lower than expected pre-orders for Call of Duty: Ghosts, although that time Hirshberg blamed the next-gen console transition.
"As one might expect in this console transition year, pre-orders for Call of Duty: Ghosts are well below the record-setting pace set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II last year,” he said.
However, our quantitative consumer research indicates that hesitation amongst past club pre-orders is primarily due to not knowing which platform they will be playing on, which is natural at this time in the console transition.
It's worth mentioning that Ghosts pre-orders are over double those of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which is the last time we launched a new sub-brand for the franchise.”
So why are pre-orders declining? It's hard to say, but it's certainly not for lack of effort – more emphasis than ever is placed on pre-orders in the modern console market, with game reveals often accompanied by details of the numerous (often digital) perks that consumers will get if they commit to buying early.