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Destiny sold through to consumers more than $325 million worth in its first five days, making it the best-selling video game franchise of all time. But publisher Activision Blizzard’s investors evidently took this as negative news, as the company’s stock price has fallen 3 percent in trading today.
Activision Publishing, a division of Activision Blizzard, said a press release that players have logged more than 100 million hours of online play in the first week, and participated in more than 137 million activities.
The $325 million in sales comes from Chart-Track and Activision’s own internal estimates. Destiny debuted Sept. 9 on the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, the PS3, and the Xbox 360.
“Destiny fans played more than 100 million hours of the game in the first week. That’s on-par with the engagement levels of our most popular Call of Duty games, which obviously is an industry leader,” said Eric Hirshberg, the CEO of Activision Publishing, in a statement. “Millions of gamers are having a great time playing Destiny and can’t put down their controllers. And this is just the beginning. Destiny is a platform that will grow and evolve and we will continue to work closely with our partners at Bungie to bring a long line of new experiences and content to life in the game.”
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Destiny has had a lukewarm reception from critics so far, with the PlayStation 4 version earning a score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic, which aggregates review scores. In Destiny, players engage in first-person shooter combat in a shared world. The players are cast as a Guardian of the last city on Earth. It comes from Bungie, the development studio that created the blockbuster Halo series. Activision will roll out more content that allows players to explore the ruins of the solar system of the future, in a social, “living universe.”
Colin Sebastian, and analyst at R.W. Baird, said that sell-in (the volume of games that Activision shipped to stores) was strong at $500 million, breaking industry records. He also said that the mixed game reviews have impacted sell-through to some degree.
“We estimate that sell-through represents roughly half of sell-in to this point, which is reasonable assuming that the broad online engagement of the title drives more consumer sales,” Sebastian said in a research note. “In particular, we believe that the more than 100 million hours of online gameplay in Destiny is impressive [on par with Call of Duty].”
He said he is still comfortable with his current estimates for the financial performance of Activision Blizzard. He said that Destiny could sell 15 million to 18 million units this year and that the game is on-track.
Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said, “We believe the $325 million figure represents approximately five million units at a blended retail sales price of $65, making it one of the fastest selling games of all time and likely the best-selling new intellectual property of all time. On September 10, Activision Blizzard announced a Destiny sell-in (units sold to retailers) figure of over $500 million as of day one. The sell-in figure was stated as a wholesale number, and translated to roughly 10 million units, which far exceeded our expectations.
“Based upon the huge sell-in figure, we estimated that the game must have sold-through five million units on its first day. Insted, today’s press release indicates that sell-through level in five days, meaning the game is selling-through at a slower rate than we had anticipated.”
This may explain why the stock price has fallen. Still, he said that sales are consistent with his expectations for sell-through of 6 million copies in the third calendar. Despite the slower-than-expected sell-through, Pachter said that Activision is positioned to beat quarterly estimates for revenues by $75 million to $100 million.
He noted that reviews are worse than expected.
“The mediocre score is likely going to be an impediment to significant sales going forward, although we believe that solid marketing support, strong buzz from the gamer community, and record-breaking sales of next generation consoles should be a driver for sell-through of all 10 million units shipped this year,” Pachter said.
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