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Call of Duty: Ghosts makes $1 billion in record sales? Not quite

Holy frijoles! Call of Duty: Ghosts has done it. Activision and Infinity Ward have achieved yet another record with their flagship shooter series. Wow, $1 billion dollars. $1 billion sold to retail in the first day. I mean, that's faster than GTA 5, which took three full days to hit $1 billion, right. Holy cow, that must mean that Ghosts is the best Call of Duty ever. Oh...but, wait. GTA 5 did sales to consumers, and Activision is saying it sold $1 billion to retailers. Those are totally different measures.

So, hold on a sec. Activision announced that Call of Duty: Ghosts generated $1 billion in worldwide revenue on launch day. But that number isn't exactly what you think it is. The $1 billion the publisher is referring to is the units sold to stock retailers' shelves, not the actual amount of money that came out of gamers' pockets to feed their adrenaline-junky need to pwn n00bs in competitive multiplayer. But the Call of Duty franchise has been breaking day-one sales numbers since the release of Modern Warfare 2. So, why aren't we seeing the actual dollar sales that have come from the gamers?

Well, immediately and obviously, it's because Call of Duty: Ghosts doesn't appear to have done as well as its predecessors. CVG News reported that Activision CFO Dennis Durkin is blaming the console transition and digital distribution for the year's lower retail numbers, meaning Activision sold more to retail with last year's Black Ops 2. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned November 6, the day after Ghosts' launch, that it was "too early to assess" the sell-through numbers to consumers. Both comments point to an uncharacteristically not-as-successful launch of a Call of Duty game.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure Call of Duty: Ghosts sold hundreds of millions of dollars within these first few days of its launch. Just not $1 billion. And Activision announcing that the shooter sold $1 billion to retailers was a not-so-sly way of hiding that the newest entry in the series wasn't breaking any day-one sell-through records. Until the official sales numbers are released, we won't know how well this year's Call of Duty performed compared to its predecessors, but from this announcement and the relative silence in terms of day-one sales bragging, my guess is the money is a little short of expectations.

As Durkin stated, there are a couple of reasons why this may be the case. Franchise fatigue is the one that trolls will have the most fun time with. But the reality of it is, Call of Duty: Ghosts is releasing at a pretty awkward buying period in the market. It's a cross-generation game, meaning the consumer pool has been split. Some of the Call of Duty buyers out there have picked the game up for the current-gen systems, while others are undoubtedly waiting for the new consoles that are just around the corner. Activision even saw this coming and is offering a $10 upgrade to your preferred next-gen console when you get the new hardware. The question then becomes whether this scheme will take on as well as the publisher hopes it will.

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27 comments

  • GoldenEagle1476 - November 11, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    Most of the people I know aren't going to rush out and buy one of the new consoles, so I don't think that next gen has much to do with it not selling well.
  • Pruman - November 11, 2013 11:53 a.m.

    Just anecdotally, it doesn't seem like this one is doing as well. I spent many hours in Targets and other chain stores this weekend, and every single one of them had at least 20-30 copies on display in different parts of the store. There certainly seems to be some channel-stuffing going on here.
  • quincy55 - November 10, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    A ton of people are retarded, it seems. Call of Duty will be here for awhile. Like the article states, it was released in an odd time (transgenerational). If you honestly think the average gamer is "done" with Call of Duty because it is repetitive, then I'm afraid you're a moron. This is the same type of gamer that purchases sport games yearly. Ghosts will obviously outsell Grand Theft Auto V (coupled with next-gen sales). Also, why is everyone using Grand Theft Auto V as a positive example when they compare it with Ghosts? Firstly, GTA V is an action-adventure, while Ghosts is a first-person shooter. And secondly, if you're a gamer with any shred of intelligence, you'll know that GTA V is utter garbage.
  • quincy55isanidiot - November 10, 2013 6:34 p.m.

    Keep making excuses, we'll see when GTA V wins game of the year. CoD - Ghosts had a shit ass cliffhanger of an ending, a terrible 6-hour campaign, and yet again, repetitive multiplayer. Oh but of course, since GTA V not only outsold but also outclasses CoD, it's garbage. Because GTA V gave you your money's worth in a game, it's garbage. Considering CoD's sales are decreasing each year as well as it's ratings, I'd say people ARE getting tired of the in-creativeness and constant ploys for money. Before you hate on an amazingly crafted game while defending a now-shit one (CoD used to be good, too.) please back up your idiotic opinion with facts. One last thing, fuck off, will you?
  • quincy55 - November 10, 2013 7:37 p.m.

    "Game of the year?" Are you a seven-year-old? I don't give a fuck about some frivolous title awarded by some corrupt official game journalist site. I agree with your criticisms about Ghosts, except for the cliffhangar one. Couldn't care less. So you're saying that if something makes more money than something else, it makes it better? What kind of fucked-up logic is that? In this way of assessment, Justin Bieber is a better musician than Mozart, because Bieber sells more products. No, of course not. Call of Duty's sales has been increasing, until now (due to the transgeneration period). Call of Duty's ratings have stayed within a 70-90 metacritic range. I'll say it again: the type of gamer (the lowest common denominator) doesn't realize or care about these factors. There's tons of reasons as to why Call of Duty sells so well. It's a masterfully-developed piece of corporate product, much like Grand Theft Auto V. "Money's worth?" "Amazingly crafted?" You use these terms to describe GTA V? I'd say that's arguable.
  • BobbMarleyy - November 10, 2013 7:54 p.m.

    CoD Sales have not decreased every year.. they have increased every year you moron go look at the sale records.
  • wyattearp109 - November 10, 2013 1:28 p.m.

    Honestly everyone on this page are just a bunch of fags hating on a video game..... sad
  • Micktityknacker - November 10, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    I agree, this franchise is dying out. I'm happy with that. I think the guys over at respawn will be killing the COD franchise with TitanFall. The same two people who made MW and MW2 (and we all see how well those games were) will do a great job on that game. The made the right choice to push back TitanFall to march. They were betting that people would get tired of ghost and need something to hold them over. I just hate how people are gullible to believe that the next installment of COD will get better. That's the problem with this franchise, people will hate one installment and so they tell themselves that the next one will be better, and needless to say it never gets better. Goodbye COD come March and hopefully years to come.
  • CurryIsGood - November 8, 2013 7:26 p.m.

    I'm glad that COD didn't beat GTA V.
  • MaskedPheasant - November 8, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    This was such a petty and dishonest attempt to falsely one-up Rockstar, as if I didn't have enough reasons to dislike Activision.
  • Eightboll812 - November 9, 2013 7:11 p.m.

    True. I'm almost tempted to go buy GTAV just to piss in Activision's cheerios a bit. But I really have little interest in GTA, so I won't.
  • chavbuster1 - November 8, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    Usually when a new COD game comes out, most of my friends on my friendslist on XBL are on it, but no one seems to be on COD:Ghosts for some reason....
  • Eightboll812 - November 9, 2013 7:13 p.m.

    I see a few but not quite as many as when previous installments have come out. I don't want to celebrate the demise too prematurely though, because the dam could burst as soon as next gen hits the market. We'll know a lot more in two weeks.
  • FoxdenRacing - November 8, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    I've seen this trend coming for a while now. First, they announced US-only retail sales. Then, they announced worldwide retail sales. Now, they're announcing stock shipped. Their day one's been in decline for years, it's just now they've run out of places to run. It's still an insanely popular game, and the top of its genre, but nothing can accelerate forever.
  • MeanwhileGuy - November 8, 2013 4:16 a.m.

    I don't count myself as a troll, but it would be amazing if people are finally getting tired of buying essentially the same game in a slightly different setting. That said, it probably is a mix of cross-gen latency, and the release of GTA V. And as much as I think GTA V is a bucket of misogynistic, needlessly violent crap (but please, let's not get into a debate about that. We all have our different opinions), it is nice to see something finally dethrone CoD in the Fall release period.
  • dangomushi - November 7, 2013 10:03 p.m.

    I was working at Target when Modern Warfare 3 was the latest CoD. They pulled the same shit. Normally, we'd only have a few copies of any given game in the back room stock. However, even 6 months after MW3 came out we still had a couple hundred copies in our back room (and this is in a college town for christsake). Probably 95% of the people that are going to get a CoD get it between launch day and the following holiday season. For the best selling franchise, they seem a little insecure just being mega huge, so they inflate their numbers by over stuffing retailers. Eventually this stuff gets landfilled because who wants last year's CoD.
  • Doctalen - November 8, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    Seriously that extra stock gets landfilled? That seems like a gross misuse of resources on activision's part. Do y'all try and use sales/bundles/donate to charity/gamefly first? It might be a loss of profit but I'd shine that every minus chair try would cost slightly less than Steiger up throwing it away.
  • Doctalen - November 8, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    Oh good the autocorrect spelling mistakes T_T I'd shine should be I'd imagine Every minus chair should be everything minus charity Steiger (what the fuck is that?) should be straight Edit buttons are needed GR
  • brickman409 - November 7, 2013 8:47 p.m.

    What's happening to Call of Duty is the same thing that happened to Guitar Hero. It got really popular, so activision made a million sequels, and now people are bored of it. It just took a bit longer for Call of Duty to fall, probably because there were sequels coming out multiple times a year for guitar hero, compared to once a year for COD.
  • Jacko415 - November 7, 2013 10:58 p.m.

    You don't say...

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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