Activision: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 PC sales three times higher than Black Ops 3

Activision: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 PC sales three times higher than Black Ops 3

Activision Blizzard is once again touting the success of its Call of Duty franchise, saying that most recent entry Black Ops 4 sold three times as many copies on PC as Black Ops 3.

According to a Seeking Alpha transcription of the publishing giant's financial call with investors, Activision president and COO Collister Johnson said after three weeks the title was selling better than 2015's Black Ops 3, the current fastest-selling entry in the franchise, and that PC was three times up like-for-like.

In the past, Activision has said that Black Ops 4 PC sales were double that of 2017's WWII, which didn't do fantastically. The PC SKU of this year's iteration selling three times Black Ops 3 honestly suggests that the 2015 game didn't sell fantastically on Steam.

Black Ops 4 is, of course, the COD franchise's debut on Activision Blizzard's owned platform, which no doubt will have served as a catalyst for PC sales.

The firm also reckons that total active users in the three weeks since launch are 16 per cent up on Black Ops 3, with the number of hours played rising by over a fifth. This is no doubt in part down to the Blackout battle royale mode, which has received an awful lot of attention.

"It's worth stepping back to remember why we decided to make the investment in PC around Black Ops 4 and development resources in the way it'sarchitectedd to the platform to go to market," Johnson told an investor from BTIG when asked about the game's PC launch. "And there will be five or six reasons in there.

"And so just to frame those so that we can pressure test how we're doing against them, the first is it opens up Call of Duty to a broader, more global audience as we take it to platforms that reach around the world like PC. Second, because of the nature of the game and the kinds of modes and engagement that we're seeing really lend themselves to PC, particularly for multiplayer for Battle Royale, of course. Third, because we're now able as a company to integrate Call of Duty with the platform, which is a big thing and a very important development. And it's not only just a compelling best-in-class PC platform, we also have a much deeper and richer understanding of our players because they're now on our network and on our platform.

"We think the time is right for Call of Duty, as you know and as we've talked about, to be expanding across platforms and to be working across console and PC together. And then obviously, PC comes with better profitability, given that it's entirely digital. And because it's on our platform, the economics accrue to us.

"So those are the five or six things about why we would do this. And the investment really does seem to be paying off. As you said, the size of our PC business is growing multiples, which is good and a good start. And we've been able to launch it to scale on to markets we have not had access to before in Asia, particularly in Korea, but also other markets still to come in Asia. And so there's an expansion for us there, particularly with the kinds of modes of play that we're seeing."

In addition, the company revealed some, admittedly, rather impressive milestones for the Call of Duty franchise, pointing out that total revenue is higher than the Marvel Cinematic Universe and double the box office figures of Star Wars. Though given the amount of cash merchandise has generated for that latter series, we can't imagine COD light years ahead of the Disney-owned sci-fi romp by any means.

And one more thing - there's also an incredible little porky from CEO Bobby Kotick, too. The top exec says that the reason for Call of Duty: Black Ops III launched in mid October, as opposed to the first week of November, was to make the game a more enticing proposition for users buying closer to Christmas. We suspect the reality is a bit more, um, cowboy shaped.

"As an example of the breadth of our capabilities, we launched Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on October 12," he said.

"Ordinarily, we launch new Call of Duty titles this week in November. But we believe holiday customers, of which there are millions, will benefit from more players in the game earlier."

Not that there's any shame in this - Rockstar announcing any kind of release nearly always results in other big publishers running scared. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.