What You Missed This Week in Video Games

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New ‘Call of Duty’ delivers over $800M in first weekend sell-through

“Game On” is The Fly’s weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.

NEW RELEASES: 

Among this week’s new releases is Square Enix’s (SQNXF) life simulation role-playing game “Harvestella,” which launches for PC and Nintendo Switch (NTDOY) on November 4. Also out this week is the Switch port of Electronic Arts’ (EA) 2021 adventure game “It Takes Two,” which releases for the Nintendo platform on November 4.

‘CALL OF DUTY’: 

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) said that “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II,” which launched October 28 for PC, PlayStation 4 (SONY), PS5, Xbox One (MSFT), and Xbox Series X/S, has become the number one top-selling opening weekend ever in the franchise, delivering more than $800M worldwide in sell-through following the first three days from its release on October 28. The opening tops any of the biggest worldwide box office openings of 2022, surpassing “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” worldwide box office openings combined, the game maker said. “Modern Warfare II” also set a new franchise opening weekend record as the number one top-selling “Call of Duty” digital opening through its first three days.

Meanwhile, Sony said yesterday that “Modern Warfare II” had the biggest PlayStation Store launch ever for a game in the series. Additionally, Gamesindustry.biz’s Christopher Dring reported that physical sales of the game in the U.K. are 42% higher than the U.K. launch sales of last year’s “Call of Duty: Vanguard” and nearly 9% higher than the U.K. launch of “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” in 2020.

Amid the strong sales news, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said that if Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard closes, “Call of Duty” will still be available on PlayStation consoles and that he’d “love to see” the franchise appear on Nintendo Switch (NTDOY). “Call of Duty specifically will be available on PlayStation,” Spencer said. “I’d love to see it on the Switch, I’d love to see the game playable on many different screens. Our intent is to treat CoD like Minecraft.” “This opportunity is really about mobile for us,” he added. “When you think about 3 billion people playing video games, there’s only about 200 million households on console.”

GAME PASS: 

During the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference last week, Microsoft’s Spencer said that Xbox Game Pass is already turning a profit and makes up roughly 15% of Microsoft’s overall Xbox content and services revenue, according to The Verge’s Tom Warren. The Xbox boss said he now anticipates Xbox Game Pass to remain at approximately 10%-15% of Microsoft’s Xbox content and services revenue. “Game Pass as an overall part of our content and services revenue is probably 15 percent,” Spencer said. “I don’t think it gets bigger than that. I think the overall revenue grows so 15 percent of a bigger number, but we don’t have this future where I think 50-70 percent of our revenue comes from subscriptions.” Spencer hinted that a price change for the service could be on the way in the future, though the company believes it is “really important” to maintain current prices, the author noted.

Meanwhile, Axios’ Stephen Totilo reported last week that subscriber growth for Game Pass fell far short of an annual company goal tied to CEO Satya Nadella’s pay. The Xbox maker targeted a 73% growth rate for the service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, but the service has only seen 28% growth, the author said, noting that this would mark the second year in a row Game Pass growth failed to achieve internal targets.

MICROSOFT/ACTIVISION: 

The European Commission is set to launch an in-depth investigation into Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard after the Xbox maker opted to not file remedies to the EU’s antitrust enforcers, Samuel Stolton of POLITICO reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Microsoft had a deadline of October 31 to submit the commitments to the EU’s competition department, but opted not to, two individuals close to the matter told POLITICO. The European Commission has until November 8 to announce it intention to launch a Phase 2 investigation into the deal.

The news follows comments Phil Spencer made on the “Same Brain” podcast recently, during which he pledged to keep “Call of Duty” on PlayStation platforms as long as PlayStation exists. “As long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation,” the Xbox boss said. “Similar to what we’ve done with Minecraft, since we’ve owned that, we’ve expanded the places people can play Minecraft. We haven’t reduced the places, and it’s been good for the Minecraft community in my opinion, and I want to do the same as we think about where Call of Duty can go.”

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  • Launch sales of Ubisoft’s (UBSFY) “Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope” in the U.K. are down 50% compared to 2017’s “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle,” Gamesindustry.biz reports [more]

Originally Posted November 1, 2022 – What You Missed This Week in Video Games

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