Call of Duty: Vanguard has sold 40% fewer units on launch in the UK, compared to last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. While it topped this week’s sales charts just above FIFA 22, the decrease in sales could indicate fatigue with the first-person shooter franchise. Other possibilities include cannibalism within the Call of Duty franchise considering Warzone‘s continued popularity—which has seen premium sales spread out through the year—and the launch of other FPS titles. Historically, the WWII Call of Duty games have also not performed as well commercially as the established Modern Warfare and Black Ops subfranchises, which each have more immediate name recognition. It’s also important to note that these numbers are UK only and don’t represent worldwide Call of Duty sales trends.
According to GSD data, Call of Duty: Vanguard physical retail sales dropped 26%. Digital sales dropped even lower, decreasing 44% compared to last year’s launch. Gamesindustry.biz speculates that part of the reason may be due to critics’ lukewarm reception of the game. World War II-era Call of Duty games also tend to perform weaker compared to titles based on modern times, such as 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Another possibility is competition within the FPS genre. Battlefield 2042 is set to release later this month, and there are also rumblings of a shadow drop for Halo: Infinite for the Xbox 20th anniversary. Add in the fact that Call of Duty Warzone is still alive and kicking—with its own major map revamp and update not set to go live until December 2nd—and you have some pretty big titles vying for consumer attention. Likewise, Gamesindustry also notes that the console hardware transition may have also played a role.
Call of Duty: Vanguard released on November 5, 2021. While we highlighted the game’s impressive cinematic campaign experience and fresh-feeling multiplayer in our official review, the game launch was marred by some technical glitches. Sledgehammer fixed those issues with a post-launch update within just a few days, with ongoing tuning and fixes coming to Vanguard regularly. Season One of Vanguard’s post-launch content will begin alongside the new Warzone Pacific Caldera map on December 2nd.
Publisher Activision Blizzard has also been embroiled in controversy after lawsuits and allegations of workplace abuse and harassment. While not directly related to the Call of Duty franchise, the company broke from tradition by not displaying its name in early Vanguard‘s reveal trailers. Activision was recently dethroned as the most valuable video game company in the US.
We should learn more about Vanguard’s early sales with next month’s NPD results, which will also give us a picture of how the title performed in the US.