Cowen and Company analysts are predicting that sales of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be down significantly compared to Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
According to the analysts, Advanced Warfare will sell 40% less than Call of Duty: Ghosts, and 70% less than Call of Duty: Black Ops II. This will be the second-consecutive year that Call of Duty sales have fallen. Last year’s Ghosts failed to surpass sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
“Advanced Warfare is now pacing almost 40 per cent behind last year’s Ghosts (vs. 50 per cent last week) and almost 70 per cent behind 2012’s Black Ops 2 (vs. 80 per cent last week),” the research notes explain. “We continue to believe CoD will be down meaningfully vs. last year. With the franchise facing two consecutive significant year on year declines in sales, we think it is prudent to assume it has peaked.
Cowen and Company base many of their analyses on pre-order data, something that Activision has publicly decried all year as being misleading. Activision contends that pre-orders in general are dropping, but gamers are still picking games up day one. While Cowen and Company do note that it is possible, they have a hard time buying Activision’s argument.
“Given that we have seen the most pre-ordered IP of all time launched this year – not once, but twice! (Watchdogs and Destiny) – we have a hard time buying this argument. What we think is happening is that (1) preorders for Call of Duty are down (2) Call of Duty is normally a significant percentage of overall pre-orders and thus (3) interested parties are concluding that pre-orders are secularly declining relative to overall sales, e.g. that the problem is with pre-orders rather than with Call of Duty.
“This aligns with what Activision and GameStop both would like to believe – Activision because it gives an alternative explanation for slow pre-orders, and GameStop because it ignores the elephant in the room that a significant portion of sales are digital, which they aren’t seeing the pre-orders for. We believe that pre-orders remain by far the best leading indicator of a title’s likely ultimate sales.”
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare launches November 4 (November 3 for those who pre-ordered the game) on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. We should know how well the game sells within 24 hours of release, only then will we know if Activision or Cowen and Company were right.