Call of Duty Numbers Show Series Decline

Chris Stead 5 May 2016 NEWS


Following the announcement of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, we compare the scores, sales, weapons, maps and more from the 11 core games in the series so far.

Yesterday, the 12th game in the core Call of Duty lineage was officially announced. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will be out on November 4, 2016, on PC, Xbox One and PS4, with a release on the Nintendo Switch also heavily rumoured. In our opinion, the trailer was a complete dud; overly long and unexciting without the thrills and punch you’d expect from a high octane series that defined the template for the modern shooter.

In a year where Assassin’s Creed - another long-running annual franchise - has taken its first hiatus in almost a decade due to declining interest, it’s worth questioning just how much desire today’s gamers have for a Call of Duty. Let’s start with a comparison of the games in the series to date:

Title Release Date Sales (MM) Metacritic (Lead Format) Maps Guns Formats Campaign Length (Hours)
Call of Duty 29/10/2003 4.5 91 16 18 4 7
Call of Duty 2 25/10/2005 5.9 86 27 23 3 9
Call of Duty 3 7/11/2006 7.2 82 20 20 5 8.5
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 5/11/2007 15.7 94 21 31 5 7
Call of Duty: World at War 11/11/2008 15.7 84 27 29 5 8
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 10/11/2009 22.7 94 26 48 4 6.5
Call of Duty: Black Ops 9/11/2010 26.2 87 41 66 5 7
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 8/11/2011 26.5 88 36 56 5 6
Call of Duty: Black Ops II 12/11/2012 24.2 83 37 75 4 7
Call of Duty: Ghosts 5/11/2013 27.6 78 31 52 6 6
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare 4/11/2014 21.7 83 31 67 5 7
Call of Duty: Black Ops III 6/11/2015 23.4 81 29 52 5 8.5

It’s worth noting that Call of Duty: Black Ops III is by far and away the best selling game on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – in particular on Xbox One, where one out of every three owners of the console has the game. From a commercial point of view, Call of Duty continues to be in high demand, but our data does show that those sales have plateaued and we're seeing the first hints of decline in interest.

From a critical perspective, however, the media has most certainly lost interest, with a definite downtrend in reception to each title since it peaked during the Modern Warfare trilogy. In fact, the series hasn’t seen a game average a score above 90 in seven years.

The lacklustre trailer for Infinite Warfare, announced a month further out from release than last year’s Black Ops III, joined by the fact that two of the two DLC packs for its predecessor have still yet to be revealed, marketed and fulfilled, doesn’t bode well. Is there already a sense of “meh” about the game? We’re feeling it.

Ultimately the numbers are telling us that Call of Duty is doing OK in comparison to its own lofty standards, but unless Infinite Warfare provides something substantially more entertaining and different than its trailer suggests come release, then the series could be heading for a dive in 2017.

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