news\ Nov 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

Call of Duty is 'review-proof,' claims analyst


While some publishers and developers would love to see a Metacritic score of 75, Call of Duty: Ghosts' review scores are low by its own standards. But despite a lukewarm reception by critics, the game has continued to defy all odds.

As Activision revealed today, the game has sold-in more than $1 billion into retail for launch. While this number doesn't actually represent the number of copies sold to actual consumers, it's still an impressive feat, especially considering the mediocre reviews.

As Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz points out, "CoD has become such an embedded franchise that it is somewhat review-proof."

"We think of CoD as being like EA's Madden NFL, which continues to sell similar unit numbers year in and year out, regardless of reviews; Madden's Metacritic has ranged as low as 78 in recent years," Creutz said, adding, “Given that CoD changes only incrementally from year to year, we think reviewers have become increasingly less likely to give very high review scores due to a certain degree of ennui with the franchise.”

Creutz went on to say that although Call of Duty will continue to sell well regardless of scores, it faces mounting pressure from Titanfall and Destiny, two of 2014's biggest shooters which will both be available on next-gen systems.

“Our concern lies more with next year, when Call of Duty will face competition from several new next-gen shooters, including EA’s Titanfall and Activision’s own Destiny.

“To the degree that Call of Duty may become a bit of a ‘been there done that’ experience for gamers, we think it is vulnerable to losing share as new product enters the market; even if a lot of that share goes to Destiny, as a third party title it will carry a lower margin for [Activision], and we think bullish 2014 [earnings per share] estimates assume Destiny will be more incremental than cannibalistic.”

While I've yet to go hands-on with Destiny, early previews of EA's Titanfall have left me with a feeling of CoD on steroids. Do I think either will overthrow Call of Duty? It's hard to say, but while Ghosts is a fun play, it's hardly the next-gen leap we were hoping for.


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