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Can Black Ops 2 Change Call Of Duty’s Slowing Sales?

/ Oct 18th, 2012 5 Comments

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Call of Duty is king. On PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 alone, the last two games in the series have sold over 52 million copies. Hundreds of thousands play every night and over 12 million belong to the Elite subscription service. As with many annualized franchises, the challenge comes with keeping things fresh while retaining the base gameplay experience, and bringing enough new material to persuade gamers to keep coming back.

The Call of Duty series is still incredibly successful, yet sales of recent titles have slowed. Some analysts have predicted that the fall of Call of Duty is soon to come. Sales remain high, but sales growth is coming to a halt. Call of Duty may have reached its saturation point. There are many possible factors like newfound competition from Battlefield and Medal of Honor, a plethora of second tier military shooters, the spread of Call of Duty’s experience and level mechanics into other games and genres, and an overall decline in sales in the past year. By many gamers’ admissions, the online multiplayer in Call of Duty has become unapproachable to new players. The significant overhaul of the multiplayer structure for Black Ops 2 seems to be a tacit acknowledgement of this fact. Deaths are frequent, kills are scarce, and the learning curve is high. Call of Duty may not be spreading as fast as it has in the past, but Treyarch is making sure Black Ops 2 is the best Call of Duty game to date.

[adsense250itp]Black Ops 2 is not an incremental update or roster update like many annualized games. By comparison, it barely resembles a Call of Duty game. The loadout system has been completely replaced by the new “Pick 10” system. Rather than choosing specific weapons and perks for each slot in previous games, regardless of whether you use them or not, the “Pick 10” system is incredibly customizable. It allows players to choose an extra perk instead of a sidearm, a primary weapon with three attachments, or any combination of guns, perks and attachments so long as the point value equals 10. Everything has a point value of 1, and there are some limitations to perks and attachments, but the system was designed and tweaked as a tabletop game before any coding was done. It allows for easy and quick modifications rather than releasing a broken system on launch and tweaking it via updates. Treyarch gave plenty of thought into how the new system was to be designed in order to satisfy longtime fans and to leave it open enough for newcomers.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

While the new “Pick 10” system is making the game more “casual friendly,” a more noticeable modification has been made to the Prestige mechanic. In previous titles, Prestige was used to extend the online experience and give dedicated players new challenges and reset their level and weapon progress in order for them to feel a sense of progression all over again. This resetting often turned off less hardcore players that found it unfair that they had lost everything, and it was seen as a waste of time for no more than a title, icon and bragging rights. In Black Ops 2, challenge and weapon progress is not reset. This means that experimentation with weapons and attachments should be easier than ever and the amount of time spent grinding for new gear should be significantly decreased. This should extend online gameplay more than ever, as those who would prestige once, twice, or not at all may decide to do so multiple times. It was a much needed redesign to the reboot system.

Rather than re-releasing the same base game with minor tweaks and feature swaps, Treyarch has taken note of the criticisms of the Call of Duty brand. The developer has been incredibly progressive with the multiplayer experience, which is what drives the majority of sales for the genre. Further changes to the system need to be implemented in the future by Infinity Ward and Treyarch if they want to keep expanding the brand. Call of Duty has more competition than ever, boasting more advanced tech and visuals. Overall sales growth may be slowing for the brand, but Black Ops 2 is creating a new type of Call of Duty experience for a larger group of gamers that could change that fact.

Chance Asue

Chance Asue

Associate Editor & Multimedia Specialist at Gaming Illustrated
Chance Asue is a self-taught computer builder and hardware junkie. His favorite game franchises include Pokemon, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy. He is Gaming Illustrated's Multimedia Specialist and reviews the latest hardware tech.
Chance Asue

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5 responses to “Can Black Ops 2 Change Call Of Duty’s Slowing Sales?”

  1. ps3pychotruth says:

    How is there a “decrease in sales” when they made over a BILLION dollars in sales last year for MW3 and the pre-orders for black ops 2 are probably going to break the record for the most pre-ordered game ever? If anything sales are growing dramatically. Many people hate call of duty because its repetitive, but that doesn’t stop more people from buying it every year.

    • Chance Asue says:

      As I’ve stated in the article, it sells more than anything else. The problem is that the growth in sales is what is slowing down. The brand isn’t attracting new players as much as it was in the past. At some point, there will be an equilibrium, where the last game will sell just as many as the first. This means that either no new consumers, or that the amount of new players is equal to the amount that chose not to purchase the latest game. From MW to MW2, sales jumped over 48 percent. It’s slowed to just 7 percent from Black Ops to MW3. Call of Duty will still sell like crazy, but the tech is aging and there is more competition than ever.

  2. michael says:

    How is there a “decrease in sales” when they made over a BILLION dollars in sales last year for MW3 and the pre-orders for black ops 2 are probably going to break the record for the most pre-ordered game ever? If anything sales are growing dramatically. Many people hate call of duty because its repetitive, but that doesn’t stop more people from buying it every year.

  3. Jake says:

    The Call of Duty franchise has been going down the drain in terms of quality.. It’s the same rehash, same tweaked game engine every year.

    Treyarch is proving to be more innovative than infinity ward; I’m betting they’ll become the dominant studio for selling future COD titles.

    I’m holding out on buying Black Ops 2 to see what the reviews say about it first. I don’t want Black Ops 2.5. The game mechanics of MW3 were mediocre at best.

    • FreeTheEnslaved says:

      Well as the article says, Black Ops II is a complete change in the mechanics of the game. There will be so many features that it won’t be like Call of Duty anymore, which is a good thing. Not to mention the Zombies campaign. I think the reputation of the Call of Duty franchise has been based mainly on the Modern Warfare series, which has been the same poopie every game, and sucks in general. I sold MW3 within a day of buying it. I bought it on the morning, beat the campaign, played online, decided it sucked, sold it to a friend. Black Ops II will be the best COD yet.

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