The most successful video game on the market right now is the Call of Duty series. Say what you will about the game’s lack of innovation and utter disregard for the single-player campaign, this is the most commercially successful game on the market. The last couple of years have seen gross sales of over $1 billion and units sold well in excess of 10 million.
As such, you could understand why everybody is looking to CoD for cues for their upcoming efforts. Just look at the new all-brown colour palette and gritty art style of Dead Rising 3 and EA turning Battlefield into an annual franchise. The thing is that Call of Duty’s success isn’t about how it looks or how often it comes out. It may come as a shock but there’s a simple but largely undiscovered formula that makes CoD a massive success.
A few weeks back, one of the hot stories in the video game world was that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 reached gross sales of $1 billion in only 15 days. What sounded like good news for publisher Activision was quickly reigned in by writers pointing out that CoD: Blops 2 sold fewer copies to reach $1 billion of gross sales than 2011’s CoD: Modern Warfare 3.
This raised an interesting question in my mind: How profitable are video games to make? Even if Blops2 sold fewer copies, shouldn’t Activision still have covered the sunk costs of development and marketing after paying for the variable costs of each unit sold? Read the rest of this entry