Activision is one of the biggest video game publishers in the world thanks to a handful of gigantic properties. But as it unleashes its upcoming megahit, its most successful brand of the last 10 years looks like it’s starting to lose its sales luster.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare preorders continue to track more than 50 percent behind 2013’s Ghosts, according to Cowen and Company analyst Doug Cruetz. The industry-tracking expert notes that Advanced Warfare is tracking 80 percent behind 2012’s Black Ops II. Call of Duty game regularly generate $1 billion in revenue for Activision, but Ghosts didn’t perform as well as Black Ops II. If Advanced Warfare sells worse than Ghosts, this could signify that the franchise is on a permanent decline.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that a poor-performing Call of Duty is still likely going to end the year as one of the industry’s best-selling games. In a note to investors, Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia says that he expects Advanced Warfare to sell 17 million copies — that’s down 15 percent from Ghosts’ 20 million copies sold.

“We believe that the preorders [for Call of Duty] need to accelerate significantly over the next few weeks,” Cruetz wrote. “Or else the evidence for meaningfully weaker performance by Advanced Warfare vs. Ghosts will, in our opinion, become too strong to rationalize.”

The Cowen analyst notes that Call of Duty’s biggest problem right now is that gamers are still busy playing Destiny. If players don’t switch that game off and start looking toward their next shooter, Advanced Warfare could get off to a sluggish start.

“Call of Duty faces a very competitive slate following its launch on Nov. 4, with Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Dragon Age all scheduled for release between the Nov. 11 and Nov. 18,” said Cruetz. “With light competition pre-release and heavy competition post-release, we think a slow start for CoD could be difficult to overcome.”

Activision (Activision Blizzard) is an American video game developer and publisher headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, but now operating worldwide. It was the first independent developer and ... All Activision news »

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