CoD Is “Review-Proof,” May be Threatened by Titanfall, Destiny

UPDATE: Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter has responded to Creutz’s comments. “I know Doug, like him a lot, but he’s wrong,” said Pachter.

Independent analyst Billy Pidgeon added, “Strong franchises like Call of Duty: Ghosts tend to benefit from a halo effect (no pun intended), but no game is ‘review proof.’ A franchise’s increasingly stronger past performance does not guarantee that sales records will continue to be broken.”

It apparently doesn’t matter what we say about Call of Duty: Ghosts.

According to Doug Creutz of investment business Cowen & Company, low critic scores aren’t a threat to Call of Duty’s sales, but new IPs like Titanfall and Destiny may be.

Creutz notes that while Metacritic scores for Call of Duty: Ghosts are hovering around the 74 per cent mark, they come too late to influence pre-orders and pre-sales figures.

“We think CoD has become such an embedded franchise that it is somewhat review-proof,” he said. “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.

“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 points to new IPs as the real threat to CoD, rather than critic reviews.

“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,” said the analyst.

“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 ATVI, and we think bullish 2014 EPS estimates assume Destiny will be more incremental than cannibalistic.”

While I do wish the Titanfall and Destiny success, I just don’t see them posing any serious risk to Call of Duty. We’re talking about niche, far-future sci-fi versus mainstream, modern/near-future warfare. Yes, Halo is far-future sci-fi, but it released at a time when that genre was still in. Until we see another genre shift in the gamer zeitgeist, CoD will continue to reign supreme.


via GamesIndustry International

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2 Comments on CoD Is “Review-Proof,” May be Threatened by Titanfall, Destiny


On November 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Billy Pidgeon is right no game is review-proof and brand loyalty doesn’t always guarantee success, the average gamers are a fickle bunch. Past successes for a game in a franchise doesn’t guarantee that future games in said franchise will be as successful, just look at FFXIII compared to say FFVII .

As for Michael Pachter, I still waiting for his predictions about Nintendo to come true.

Dan Miller

On November 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Whewww, yeah, FFXIII… what a disaster!

What I’m trying to say is, Wall Street analysis of a company is very different from video game critic analysis of a company. EA and Take Two have had unbelievable years as companies, and Activision is a profitable goldmine that’s just had it’s potential released by the Vivendi buyout, but of those companies only Take Two has had a critically acclaimed game. Not saying Wall Street or critics are more or less right than one another, just apples and oranges.