What a difference a year makes. Call of Duty WW2 has braved the artillery fire of franchise fatigue. Stormed the machine gun nests of digital shift and put a Churchill-like two fingers up to the loot crate furore. Some had written off the franchise after last year’s less-than-stellar sci-fi outing, but this return to its historical roots seems to have gone down like a boatload of bananas and nylon stockings, although it’s a little more complicated than that of course.
Over its opening weekend the game sold incredibly well, and huge congratulations must go to the developer and publisher for the game and its promotion. For UK games retail this is a much-needed boost, a cornerstone title of the season is back up there with FIFA.
For Activision, the latest title has almost-certainly smashed sales of Black Ops 3, factoring in the accelerating shift to digital sales since 2015. And that’s all the more impressive given this is a new incarnation for the series, rather than a sequel to a previous outing.
While it’s possible to guesstimate how much of the market as a whole has moved over to digital sales, thanks to various nuggets of data, identifying such a shift on a specific title is very difficult and we’ll have to wait until Activision, and key partner Sony, make a statement – as they did with Destiny 2 beating the worldwide digital sales record on the platform.
It must be noted that this year’s Call of Duty faced significantly less competition than last year’s. Infinite Warfare’s launch was preceded by three weeks of hefty sales by the highly-successful Battlefield 1, which was bound to take some action from Activision’s title. It also had less successful stablemate Titanfall 2 to see off, another potential drain on its numbers from a fellow competitive shooter.
To use a sporting analogy, you can only beat the opposition put in front of you, and in this case Call of Duty has, annihilated its opposition, FIFA aside ironically. This is the easily the second biggest launch of the year by a large margin.
There was little change in the split between PlayStation and Xbox sales this year. The game has long been a strong performer for the Xbox, selling better on the platform than most multi-platform titles (though PlayStation retains a small lead nonetheless at retail). That’s likely due to the game being heavily associated with the Xbox brand from its modern rebirth as a console smash hit with Modern Warfare.
We expect Call of Duty WW2 to continue to dominate the charts for the next couple of crucial weeks, until EA’s Star Wars-fuelled Battlefront 2 sweeps in to capitalise on the growing pre-release hype for the Last Jedi in mid-December.