Call of Duty is a big deal. Activision's first-person shooter has been one of the biggest video games in the world for over a decade, but UK physical game sales of Black Ops 4 at retailers are very much down on previous entries in the series. While physical sales in the UK are down nearly 50% compared to last year's Call of Duty: WW2, publisher Activision has reported record sales of the digital version of the game, sold on the PlayStation and Xbox digital storefronts, and Battlenet for PC.
Digital sales of video games have been on the up throughout this console generation, but when huge games like Black Ops 4 (and FIFA 19 a few weeks earlier) struggle to get close to their predecessors, alarm bells must be ringing for traditional brick and mortar stores. Black Ops 4 achieved the second biggest physical game launch of 2018 (in the UK), behind only FIFA 19, but units sold are down 59% when compared to 2015's Black Ops 3.
The story is very different when Black Ops 4 digital sales are considered. While combined physical and digital sales aren't known, Activision has revealed that Black Ops 4 is the fastest-selling game in PlayStation Store history and is the publisher's biggest digital launch on Xbox. Switching from Steam to Battlenet, Activision Blizzard's digital store, doesn't seem to have hurt, either, with sales up more than 100% over CoD WW2's.
Although not a sales figure, Activision has reported that more people connected online to play Call of Duty Black Ops 4 than they did at the launch of CoD: WW2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the first mainline game to ship without a campaign, but does include standard multiplayer, Zombies, the new Battle Royale mode Blackout, and a series of short Specialist missions.