Video game hardware is hot once again. The games themselves? That's a murkier picture.
Retail sales of game systems are up 51 percent in 2014 compared with a year ago, according to data from The NPD Group. Excitement over Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One and the potential of the next generation has revived interest in console games, which is welcome news for traditional gaming companies.
On the other hand, sales of game software at brick-and-mortar retail stores is down 27 percent year over year—a $372 million gap. But even as the overall game sales figures lag, there are already a few standouts in 2014—and some of last year's biggest hits still have momentum.
While the "Call of Duty" franchise continues to flex its considerable financial muscles, the series' most recent entry is not the best selling game at the midyear point. Instead, that honor goes to "Titanfall," a new series created, ironically, by the developers who first envisioned "CoD."
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The Electronic Arts published action title, in which two teams of six players fight online in gigantic robotic machines called Titans, has topped the sales charts this year, but there are already questions about its staying power.
EA hasn't given a lot of color about overall sales for the franchise, something that publishers regularly do in earnings calls. The game sold 925,000 copies in its launch month of March in the U.S., but beyond that is a mystery. And there has been no insight from EA about global sales.