Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's peak players on Steam suggest the worst launch for a COD title on PC since the original Black Ops, as a UK chart tracker indicates physical sales are down 48% on its predecessor, Black Ops III.
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According to SteamCharts, Infinite Warfare's all-time concurrent player peak of 15,312 suggests the worst launch for a Call of Duty title since at least the original Black Ops - compare that figure to those we dug out for this story on previous CODs to see what we mean. Ghosts managed 49,000 between its single and multiplayer modes, while Black Ops II managed 68,000. Last year's Black Ops III achieved its all-time peak of 63,681 players during its launch weekend.
According to Steam's own stats, Infinite Warfare's peak of 15,436 so far today places it behind Farming Simulator 17 (26,044), Euro Truck Simulator 2 (19,190), and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (17,250), which is more than a year old at this point.
As for physical sales, we have figures courtesy of GfK Chart-Track, who confirm that the new COD has enjoyed “the second-biggest release of the year” after FIFA 17. “However, it’s not enough to outperform last year’s ‘BlackOps III’ launch week with sales down 48.4%”, say GfK. “There is no Xbox 360 or PS3 version this time round, although even comparing just PS4 and Xbox One, sales are still down by 43.6%.” Infinite Warfare displaces Battlefield 1 at the top of the chart, while Titanfall 2 drops from fourth to fifth.
NeoGAFers worked out that a 48.4% drop on Black Ops III’s launch sales of 635,000 would put Infinite Warfare at roughly 328,000. If that’s accurate, it represents the worst launch for a COD game since COD 4: Modern Warfare, which ignited the series’s modern popularity. Its successor, World at War, sold 430,000 at launch, and every COD since has done better still.
There's one big caveat to GfK's figures, however: GfK Chart-Track only tracks physical software sales, yet all the big publishers have reported a spike in digital sales this year, reflecting their growing significance.
Some have speculated that the reason EA released its two big shooters, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, so close to one another - and to the new COD - was to deliver a knockout blow to one of Activision’s biggest franchises, having smelled weakness after the negative reaction to Infinite Warfare’s reveal trailer earlier in the year.
In EA’s earnings call last week, CEO Andrew Wilson defended the timing of Titanfall 2 against suggestions that it and Battlefield would cannibalise one another’s sales. He suggested the two games “fulfil very different motivations in what a player is looking for”, with Battlefield catering to those who want “that type of big strategic gameplay”, while those who prefer “the fast, fluid, kinetic gameplay of Titanfall 2” will opt for that. Having failed to kill COD with Battlefield, it seems EA is positioning Titanfall as a more direct challenger. This explains why, in that same earnings call, EA committed to developing Titanfall as a franchise despite mediocre sales at launch.