Lost in the news of Microsoft acquiring Activision, The NPD Group released their “Top 10 Selling Video Games of 2021” list. Topping the charts wasn’t just one Call of Duty title, but two.
Sales doesn’t mean it’s a “good” game.
Despite drawing the ire of gamers on Twitter and Reddit over balancing, performance, SBMM, cheaters and overall game design. Call of Duty has managed to stay commercially successful. According to The NPD Group – a research group that tracks sales of media – Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty: Cold War took the number 1 and 2 spots, respectively. They even beat out the hyped “Call of Duty Killer” in Battlefield 2042, which came in at number 5.
Death, taxes and people buying COD.
Much like FIFA, Call of Duty has entered that realm usually reserved for sports titles. It’s one the games casual gamers will buy and play yearly out of habit. Despite the numerous issues, from bugs to hackers, hardcore players will stick around. The game design behind the past 3 titles mirrors this “casual-first” strategy: from Modern Warfare 2019’s mini-map change, to Cold War’s score-streak system, to Vanguard’s grenade and shotgun spam. Besides that, let’s recognize the current catalyst for COD’s commercial success.
Warzone drives sales.
It’s no secret that Warzone is the driving force behind many of the sales of recent Call of Duty titles. Activision has even confirmed that the new title integrations are meant to be a catalyst of sorts, saying “we plan to use Warzone as a central gathering place for the Call of Duty community in the future”. This strategy is working as Activision confirmed last February that there was a “sharp” increase in sales of Black Ops Cold War following the Season One release and Warzone’s integration in December.
While we’re still waiting for the first financial call of 2022, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see the same sales effect with Call of Duty: Vanguard, especially given the various ways Activision has tried to incentivize Vanguard purchases. For instance, giving early access to the new Warzone Caldera map if players owned Vanguard.
Unless something drastically goes wrong, it doesn’t look like Call of Duty is going anywhere, anytime soon.
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