Will Black Ops 3 be the last big Call of Duty?

Black Ops 3 (ad) will be released on Friday, November 6th, 2015. At the time of writing, that is just four days away!

Less hype than usual?

Despite the proximity to the annual Call of Duty game release, something feels a bit off this year. While we should be at the pinnacle of the Call of Duty hype machine, this year there seems to be no where near as much marketing for the game, and there also seems to be much less hype.

In years past it felt like every other commercial on television was for Call of Duty. Video game sites were plastered with Call of Duty ads. Video game writers were going through every aspect of the upcoming games, with the readers hanging on every new detail. Sure, this is still happening to some degree, but the coverage and advertising for the game seems to be significantly lessened this year.

Increased Competition

This could have to do with increased competition this video game season. This is the first year since 2008 that Microsoft hasn’t had an exclusivity deal for Call of Duty. They are instead pushing their own shooter, Halo 5: Guardians. Sony now will be getting DLC first and has Black Ops 3 branded gear, yet they seem to be pushing Star Wars: Battlefront.

Other big games fighting for gamer’s attention this holiday season include Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Destiny: The Taken King, Just Cause 3, Guitar Hero Live, Need for Speed, Minecraft: Story Mode, and a lot more. There isn’t a single clear game that is taking away Call of Duty’s players, but the plethora of options out there for gamers is likely a reason for decreased interest in the game.

Gamer Fatigue

There also is the fatigue factor to consider. Are gamer’s just getting sick of Call of Duty? Some analysts are pointing out that the annual franchise has been generally trending down since Modern Warfare 3. Of course, that really only takes into account three games, all of which sold well. You can see the sales figures for each Call of Duty game in the table below:

Game Units Sold in millions
Black Ops III TBA
Advanced Warfare 18
Call of Duty: Ghosts 16.5
Black Ops II 24.4
Modern Warfare 3 26.5
Black Ops 26.21
Modern Warfare 2 22.69
World at War 15.98
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 15.73
Call of Duty 3 7.15
Call of Duty 2 5.8
Finest Hour 4.5

Two Bad Installments

While I can take the analyst’s point about a generally declining trend in units sold since Modern Warfare 3, I think you can make a case that the Call of Duty series has still sold really well and the low figures for Ghosts and Advanced Warfare can probably be attributed to the lack of fan enthusiasm for those two games. In my own reviews, I called Ghosts “Blah” and I hated Advanced Warfare for the jetpacks which completely changed the gameplay.

Based on a poll in the Black Ops 3 subreddit, it looks like a lot of you agree about those two games being disappointing.

Return To Form

After playing the Black Ops 3 beta, I am pretty confident that Black Ops 3 is a return to the Call of Duty we all loved. While they did add some elements to the traditional Call of Duty formula like turbo boosts, wall running, and specialists classes, along with new game modes, the game felt fairly close to Black Ops II, which was my favorite Call of Duty multiplayer.

We also should account for the Zombies mode when trying to figure out how many units Black Ops 3 will ship. People love Zombies. The mode that was thrown into World at War as a cool extra has grown into basically a separate game. There will be millions of people purchasing Black Ops 3 just for zombies.

Preorders for BLOPS 3 have been strong, although some people are attributing that to gamers trying to get Beta access (you got early access to the beta if you preordered).

Considering everything, I think you could make a case for Black Ops 3 shipping at least somewhere around as many units as Advanced Warfare, and likely more. It might not reach Black Ops II or Modern Warfare 3 levels, but this game should still do well.

One Last Big Year

So then why would this be the last big Call of Duty? Well, after this year’s game, we likely will be getting Ghosts and Advanced Warfare sequels. As those games didn’t do as well in the first place and there seems to be a lot of hatred towards those two Call of Duty installments, it isn’t difficult to predict they might do poorly.

After having a diminished player base the last two years, this could be a big year for Call of Duty, but it then will likely be followed by two years of losing even more players. While this is a sad thought for many of us, at least we have the upcoming Black Ops 3 (ad) to get excited about!