These days, we might amend Benjamin Franklin’s proclamation about death and taxes with a new qualifiable certainty: a yearly Call of Duty refresh. Right on schedule, Activision has released a teaser for the upcoming Black Ops 3 from developer Treyarch, and it’s predictably vague.
Watched it yet? Yeah. Not much to see. Observant viewers have already picked out a noteworthy tidbit: a Snapchat QR code. But that’s about it.
The trailer promises an April 26 reveal date, a detail corroborated with a tweet from Activision’s official account. “It’s official – @CallofDuty Black Ops III is coming this year from @Treyarch,” it reads. The message links to a blog post which confirms the date, but also promises “new intel” before then.
Black Ops 2 was a serious moneymaker for the publisher. It generated $500 million in revenue on release day and $1 billion within the first two weeks of availability. As a franchise, Call of Duty has raked in more than $10 billion.
But newer releases haven’t performed as well. According to NDP data, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare saw U.S. retail sales decline 27 percent from Ghosts in 2013. Ghosts also didn’t perform as well as its predecessor — it dropped 17 percent from 2011’s Modern Warfare 3. Still, sales were brisk enough to make Advanced Warfare the best-selling release of 2014.
And the player statistics remain impressive. Activision said in an earnings call last November that 125 million people have played Call of Duty since 2010. But that’s really no surprise, because the series still inexorable popularity — on the eve of the Black Ops II launch, 2.5 million people waited in line to be among the first to play.
Whether franchise fatigue will ever seriously dent sales is a big unknown, but Call of Duty seems fine for now. On April 26, we’ll see whether the spins Treyarch has put on series and genre conventions are worth queuing for.