Activision has released some details on just how massive the Call of Duty franchise is, saying in a news release that the series has surpassed $3 billion in sales over the past 12 months. Additionally, the number of people playing Call of Duty and the hours spent in the games is breaking records. The milestones come after the launch of Black Ops Cold War, which one analyst believes is not selling as well as 2019’s extremely popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Activision’s numbers state that Call of Duty sales, or “net bookings” in the company’s parlance, are up 80% year-to-date, with units sold through up by more than 40%. The press release did not provide any further granularity on what the “units” is referring to.
The press release also mentioned that more than 200 million people have played a Call of Duty game in 2020, across all instalments. For console and PC specifically, the Call of Duty franchise has reached the “highest number of players in recorded history” in 2020. What’s more, November 2020 was the “biggest” November on record for the Call of Duty franchise in terms of monthly players and hours played.
An uptick in players and time spent on Call of Duty is expected, given the expansion of the series in recent years. Call of Duty: Warzone, the battle royale game, is proving to be extremely popular, with more than 85 million players since launch in March. Call of Duty Mobile, too, is doing very well with 300 million downloads in its first year. These are games that did not exist 18 months ago, and they are microtransaction juggernauts with their free-to-play business models. Additionally, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Remastered was released this year, so it truly was a gigantic year for the franchise.
Warzone is primed for a big update soon, as the game’s Season One expansion will transform the game with new content based on Black Ops. The update was originally intended to release on December 10, but it was recently delayed to December 16.
The research group Cowen & Company released a note to investors regarding Activision’s statements about Call of Duty. The firm pointed out that Activision was not specific about Black Ops Cold War’s unit sales. Cowen & Company’s “rough best guess” is that unit sales are down about 15-20% compared to Modern Warfare.
Even 20% less would still be a huge number for Black Ops Cold War, which is expected to be the highest-selling game of 2020 in the US.
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