'Call of Duty: Ghosts' vs. 'Battlefield 4' — Who Will Win the Sales War?

A screenshot of a battle scene from 'Call of Duty: Ghosts'

The two perennial blockbuster shooters, Battlefield and Call of Duty, are on the market now. That means another round of their ongoing "sales war," which — given Call of Duty's vast lead — is really more of a guerrilla insurgency. With a new console cycle set to shake up the market, though, will this be the last face-off the two shooters will see before being set aside for something new entirely?

Other seemingly unstoppable juggernauts have been put to bed with new console cycles before. Halo, for example, is still popular, but isn't nearly the "killer app" for Xbox that it was last generation. And Call of Duty Black Ops 2's $500 million one day sales record from last year was shattered by Grand Theft Auto V's $800 million on launch day this year.

Grand Theft Auto is not the end of their competition going forward, either. Titanfall, though an Xbox and PC exclusive, is one of the most highly anticipated games in the near future, and is a multiplayer-focused first person shooter. That makes it direct competition for Call of Duty and Battlefield, one of the first major contenders in a while.

Plus, though both games are favorably reviewed, their review scores have taken both taken a dip from their previous iterations. There is no doubt that review scores directly influence sales. In fact, going from an 80-90 score to a 90-100 score triples a game's sales, on average, according to a massive quantitative study by EEDAR. Battlefield 3 scored an 89 Metascore back in 2011 for PC, and Battlefield 4 scored only an 85. Meanwhile, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 scored an 83, and Call of Duty Ghosts only scored a 74. Only time will tell whether Ghosts and Battlefield 4 will ultimately exceed their previous franchise sales records, especially since the market overall is growing. But these slipping review scores do seem to hint toward an impending downfall, especially for Call of Duty.

All of that said, the aforementioned downfall isn't going to happen this year. Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 are the two most pre-ordered games for the next generation of consoles so far, with 628,000 preorders for Ghosts and 427,000 preorders for Battlefield 4 between the two consoles. An interesting side note is that Call of Duty sold more preorders on Xbox One, but Battlefield 4 sold more preorders on Playstation 4 despite Call of Duty's overall lead.

For those of you still wondering what the difference even is between the two shooters, the vehicles, larger maps, and greater class-specific support roles of Battlefield do make a big difference over Call of Duty's run-and-gun action. I'll let gameplay footage explain.

Call of Duty:


Love it or hate it, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and other "realistic" military first-person shooters are still the strongest genre going into this new console cycle. But that hold is slowly showing signs of slipping. And with the industry in the state of flux it is in now, that may just be enough to dethrone the kings holiday season 2014.