Another year, another Call of Duty game, another bunch of articles about the "death of Call of Duty". There's a little more science to this year's exercise in editorial hand-wringing, however. In the UK at least, Black Ops 2 appears to be consistently falling short of the bar set by its predecessors.
According to an MCV report, launch week sales of the new Call of Duty are 20 per cent down from those of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 last year. The game has still managed to outsell every other game at launch this year, mind, so the writing's not quite on the wall, but these are troublesome figures for anybody with a vested interest in contemporary-set shooterdom.
In fairness, MCV points out that present economic conditions aren't favourable - the UK games retail market as a whole is down 28.7 per cent down year-on-year. Black Ops 2 has also arrived later in the month than is usual for a Call of Duty, and faces stiff competition from Halo 4 (the first Halo game in a while) and Assassin's Creed 3. Still, in the absence of any other modern military shooters save the dismal Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and given that this is the first Call of Duty in a while to offer dramatic innovations, Activision was probably expecting better.
The firm has already gone large with a grand-standing sales data press release, but there are telling omissions. Black Ops 2 is estimated to have earned $500 million worldwide on day one, but Activision has refrained from detailing exactly how many copies were sold, or whether any records have been broken. For context, Modern Warfare 3 grossed more than $775 million globally in its first five days of availability, exceeding the $650 million record set by the 2010 Black Ops across five days.
What do you think? Has Call of Duty entered its twilight period? And will the arrival of a next generation console or two help?