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Interview: GameStop Expecting  Black Ops  Launch Numbers To Beat  MW2 's
Interview: GameStop Expecting Black Ops Launch Numbers To Beat MW2's Exclusive
November 8, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

November 8, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Although analysts are skeptical sales of Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops can match the record-breaking numbers for Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2, retailer GameStop is expecting the biggest launch it's ever seen.

GameStop is planning 4,400 midnight launch events for the title in the U.S. That's 98 percent of its U.S. stores, and more midnight launches than it's ever accorded any other title. GameStop merchandising senior VP Bob McKenzie tells Gamasutra locations are already ramping up, and that employees will begin allowing eager fans to demonstrate Black Ops as soon as 9:30 tonight.

Lines are already forming at some stores, McKenzie says, and with eight hours or more to wait, "by 9:30 they're going to need a little break," he laughs.

That's a bit uncommon, McKenzie explains. Normally publishers don't allow fans to try titles in-store until they officially launch, but anticipation for Black Ops -- and Activision's marketing push -- is bigger than anything the retailer's yet seen.

Black Ops is seeing higher reservation levels and more consumer interest than last year's Modern Warfare 2, and at least within GameStop McKenzie fully expects its launch to be bigger than Modern Warfare 2 -- if not its sales overall.

"You look at the history of Call of Duty and they've had the dual studios for so many years that this is not out of sequence," says McKenzie. "The consumer ... is used to and accepting of the fact that Treyarch does one and then it's [Infinity Ward] doing the next. I think that if that cycle was broken... then I'd have a little more hesitation. But, again, everything is in line."

"Each one of these, they get so much bigger that you kind of look at it... thinking each one can't be bigger than the prior year," he says. "But really, for over 12 weeks we've been tracking at a number that surpassed last year's."

"I think, without question, if it wasn't outpacing a year ago, or if it was just within the last one or two weeks, you could say 'well, okay, maybe it was the marketing spend that's increasing awareness.' But both [Black Ops and MW2] have had big awareness," McKenzie adds.

"I think it's a loyal fanbase for the franchise and [Activision has] done a great job of really getting out in front of it and really making this an event," he adds. "I'm convinced it'll be the biggest launch that we've ever had, that the industry has ever seen."

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Ujn Hunter
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I wonder if the average CoD player realizes the developers are different? Activision likes to take a "brand name" and milk it for all it's worth. Look at Guitar Hero... Neversoft could never hope to do what Harmonix did with it. I have no interest in the new CoD mainly because Treyarch's games haven't even come close to IW's games but then again... I'm not the biggest CoD fan in the first place.

Amir Sharar
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I can only share anecdotal evidence on the matter, but it seems that consumers are slowly figuring that out because of the quality difference but in general most don't realize that different developers work on the CoD franchise. These people only figure this out after buying the game and realizing that they don't like a game like WaW compared to the MW series.

With that in mind, BO should sell very well regardless of who made it. People will find out after buying it, whether the game lives up to the IW games and I'm sure many will be disappointed, but in the end after the sale is made Activision really doesn't care. Not to say the Treyarch's titles are horrible, but there is a clear difference in quality between their games and the IW games.

Eric Geer
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With Assassins Creed: Brotherhood comin in the next week--looks to be a large and interesting world with intriguing multiplayer...

Why would I buy some of the same?--when I could get something new and exciting