The Call of Duty: Ghosts review scores are in, and they’re decidedly lower than usual. However, while the series may be in something of a critical slump, Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz insists that the scores the games receive won’t have a great impact upon its sales, and argues that the series is “review-proof.”
Call of Duty: Ghosts currently has a Metacritic score of between 74-78 across all platforms, which is a step down from Black Ops 2‘s ratings, which averaged between 74-83. DICE’s “CoD-Killer” Battlefield 4 has also been reviewed more favourably, with a Metascore ranging from 81-87.
However, in a note sent to investors, Creutz said: “By and large, most titles’ commercial fates are decided well before the first review comes out; otherwise, we would not be able to use pre-launch data from Amazon and predict actual sales with a fair degree of accuracy.”
“We think CoD has become such an embedded franchise that it is somewhat review-proof,” he added. “We think of CoD as being like EA’s Madden NFL, which continues to sell similar unit numbers year in and year out, regardless of reviews; Madden‘s Metacritic has ranged as low as 78 in recent years.”
He continued: “Ultimately, we don’t think that sales of this year’s title will be impacted enormously by these reviews. Our concern lies more with next year, when Call of Duty will face competition from several new next-gen shooters, including EA’s Titanfall and Activision’s own Destiny. To the degree that CoD may become a bit of a ‘been there done that’ experience for gamers, we think it is vulnerable to losing share as new product enters the market.”
Activision has since revealed a total of $1 billion in revenue within 24 hours of Ghosts being on store shelves. While that figure isn’t directly proportional to units sold, it shows a high level of confidence by retailers.
While it is unlikely that sales of Ghosts will suffer in the long-run due to middling reviews, it will likely damage the image of the brand and, unless developers Treyarch and Infinity Ward reinvigorate the series somehow, will harm sales of next year’s inevitable entry in the series.