The Call of Duty franchise is showing no signs of slowing down—but the video game industry’s dream of reviving music games may be overly optimistic.
A new report from Nielsen ranks the most-anticipated video games of the holiday season—and Activision’s (ATVI) juggernaut tops the list. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is the most-anticipated multi-platform title due out between October and December, according to the research firm, earning an overall anticipation ranking of 98%. (The rating factors in items such as consumer awareness and intent to purchase and reflects how strong the overall anticipation level for the title is.)
While the high rankings of those titles is of little surprise to anyone who has followed the video game industry, the consumer feedback for upcoming music games could cause some agitation among publishers. Rock Band 4, which hit shelves Oct. 6, only earned a 76% rating. Guitar Hero Live was not mentioned in the survey results, meaning it scored below Nielsen’s 70% threshold.
The Rock Band and Guitar Hero games both hope to revitalize the ‘plastic guitar’ music genre, letting players live out their rock star fantasies. The Guitar Hero franchise alone sold $3 billion during its initial five-year lifespan, but the last installment in the series—Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock—sold fewer than 261,000 copies, with nine different SKUs on the market. Rock Band, meanwhile. has been on hiatus for five years as developer Harmonix has focused on other music-themed titles and gameplay styles.
Other games earning high rankings included Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, which captured a 95% rating, EA’s Need for Speed with 92% and Star Wars: Battlefront, which earned 88%.
Given the substantial marketing (and high hopes) surrounding Battlefront, the higher rank of Need for Speed might be puzzling, but Nielsen says the difference shouldn’t be seen as a cause for alarm.
“While Star Wars is unquestionably a larger brand overall than Need For Speed, in the gaming universe you could argue that Need For Speed is the stronger force,” says Scott Pitchford, director of research, games at Nielsen. “We last saw Star Wars: Battlefront about 10 years ago, and over a two year span the franchise only produced two titles. … Need For Speed has been one of the strongest brands in the racing genre for over 20 years, and has produced 25 titles during that time. … Add to the equation that there was no Need For Speed release last year, and that this will be the first Need For Speed title on the new 8th Gen consoles, and it doesn’t seem so unbelievable.”
Halo 5: Guardians seems to be shaping up as a hit for Microsoft (MSFT), with the game capturing a perfect 100% score. Since it will only be available on a single platform—the Xbox One—however, the top multi-platform game will likely outsell it by a notable margin this year.
The PlayStation 4’s most anticipated exclusive game is Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. And Yoshi’s Woolly World tops the list for Nintendo’s Wii U.
Nielsen says it surveyed over 4,800 gamers between the ages of 7 and 54 for the report.
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