With over 100 million players since the series first began back in 2003, there's no doubt that the Call of Duty franchise is huge. Each annual installment is a juggernaut in terms of sales, dominating the charts and breaking its own records year after year. Even though the franchise has slowed down in terms of sales over the most recent installments, the games still perform better than almost any of their competitors.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 continued the trend set by last year's Advanced Warfare, putting players in control of an augmented soldier in a dystopian future. This gave developer Treyarch the opportunity to focus on verticality and maneuverability, allowing for this installment to feel fresh in terms of traversal. The game also saw the return of fan-favorite mode Zombies, this time with a 1940s Noir-inspired storyline.
Black Ops 3 had all of the makings of an instant hint and, unsurprisingly, it was. Activision recently revealed that in three days, the game earned more than $550 million worldwide. To put that in perspective, that's more money than the record-shattering Jurassic World managed to pull in opening weekend. As such, Call of Duty is currently the biggest entertainment launch of the year (until Star Wars: Episode VII at least).
The publisher also revealed that digital sales of Black Ops 3 have more than doubled over the last year and physical sales are stronger than the last two installments in the franchise. In terms of player engagement, nearly 75 million hours of Call of Duty was played over the last three days. The game also earned the distinction of being the #1 streamed game on Twitch of any game launched in 2015.
Eric Hirschberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, had the following to say:
"The 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 3' launch is bigger than any game, any movie, or any entertainment launch this year. But more importantly, our fans are engaging more deeply with the franchise than ever before. In fact, so far, people are playing Black Ops 3 for more hours per player than any 'Call of Duty' game on record. 'Call of Duty' is more than a game, it's a year round passion for a growing base of millions of fans and it's only gaining momentum."
Reviews of the game have been solid, with many reviewers commenting on the strength of both the competitive multiplayer mode and the Zombies campaign. While the game's campaign took a few hits from critics, Call of Duty has consistently survived on the strength of its multiplayer offerings and this installment appears to be no exception.
It will be interesting to see if Call of Duty sales continue to grow in the face of its competition. Fallout 4 launched this week and the impending release of Star Wars Battlefront looms on the horizon. Battlefront is a more direct competitor, with its shared genre and focus on competitive multiplayer. The game also has the strength of the Star Wars license behind it, a property that has completely taken over the public mindset as we prepare for The Force Awakens.
Regardless of the future sales, the franchise seems to have recovered from its two years sales "slump" and is enjoying renewed success. Hopefully that will translate to taking new risks in future installments and continuing to improve the game.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is available now.