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November 'Call of Duty' physical game sales fell nearly 50 percent, analysts say

People wait in line to play 'Call of Duty, Infinite Warfare' at the Paris Games Week show last October.
Chesnot | Getty Images
People wait in line to play 'Call of Duty, Infinite Warfare' at the Paris Games Week show last October.

U.S. physical game sales of "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare" declined nearly 50 percent in the month of November compared with last year's "Call of Duty: Black Ops III," according to NPD sell-through data sourced by two Wall Street analysts.

Activision Blizzard shares are down about 20 percent from mid-October highs and worries over poor launch sales from this year's "Call of Duty" game may be the reason why.

"'Infinite Warfare' units came in 17 percent shy of our expectations, down close to 50 percent y/y," Cowen analyst Doug Creutz wrote in a note to clients Friday citing NPD data.

Another Wall Street source with access to the data told CNBC that November's NPD "Call of Duty" unit sales were down 51 year over year. The person requested anonymity as they are not allowed to reveal the firm's research.

The November "Call of Duty" U.S. sales data are similar in magnitude to the 48 percent year-over-year drop during the first week of "Call of Duty" sales in the United Kingdom, according to Gfk Chart-Track sell-through data revealed in early November.

To be sure, overall unit sales may be better than the NPD and Gfk Chart-Track sell-through numbers as the firms only track physical game sales in retail stores not digital game sales.

Electronic Arts said on its Nov. 1 earnings conference call that digital game sales now represent 30 percent of the industry's sales. However, the large size of the "Call of Duty" physical game sales drop makes it likely the overall decline will be worse than expected.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak in a report to clients Nov. 16 predicted a 10 percent decline for "Call of Duty" game sales in Activision Blizzard's December quarter.

Activision Blizzard and NPD did not return calls requesting comment on the NPD sales data.



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