Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 might not be selling as well as its tremendously successful predecessors. Several indications, assembled by The Los Angeles Times, point to weaker returns from the near-future shooter for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia estimated this week that sales may be down by 10 to 15 percent so far, prompting him to downgrade his recommendation for Activision's stock from a "buy" to a "neutral" or hold. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said at a recent conference he understands Black Ops 2's sales are down, a symptom he ascribed to consumer exhaustion with the annualized franchise.
Activision released 5-day worldwide sales figures for the previous three games, though it declined to do so for this year's entry. It also listed worldwide day-one sales of $500 million as opposed to the previous standard of U.S. and U.K. numbers, making direct comparisons between the release windows difficult.
It's possible Halo 4 stole some of Black Ops 2's thunder. The Xbox exclusive launched the week before and, up until Black Ops 2, was the "biggest U.S. entertainment launch of the year," according to corporate VP of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer.
Too many figures are unknown or incompatible for anyone outside Activision to say with certainty whether Black Ops 2 reversed Call of Duty's remarkable growth. Fortunately for the publisher, the explosive success of the Skylanders series means Activision will not be without a golden goose either way.