Battle lines drawn as blockbuster 'Call of Duty' goes on sale

SYDNEY - Australian gamers Tuesday were among the world's first to get their hands on the latest instalment of "Call of Duty", as publisher Activision sought to boost the blockbuster franchise amid concerns about consumer fatigue.

While the video game has been one of the industry's bestsellers, with the 11-year-old series moving more than 100 million units and raking in billions of dollars in revenue, some analysts expect a drop-off in sales for this year's "Advanced Warfare" instalment compared to 2013's "Ghosts".

Activision Publishing is confident the newest title will continue to be its standard-bearer, and has brought in studio Sledgehammer Games and Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey to reload the franchise, which first launched in 2003.

"Three years ago we made some big decisions to invest in a three-year development cycle and to enlist Sledgehammer Games to be the first new lead studio for 'Call of Duty' in a decade," Activision's chief executive Eric Hirshberg said in a statement.

"We believe that those decisions have paid off, resulting in a fantastic game." EB Games, which is launching "Call of Duty" in Australia, said the latest instalment was already the year's biggest pre-selling title.

"'Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare' is off to a cracking start with tens of thousands of fans attending midnight and early morning launches at EB Games stores across the country," the firm's national brand manager Debra McGrath told AFP.

Parent company Activision Blizzard, a leading US video games publisher, in August reported a 8.22 per cent rise in second-quarter net revenue to US$658 million (S$848 million) from the previous year, driven by strong digital sales from games such as "Call of Duty", "World of Warcraft" and "Diablo III: Reaper of ouls".

The games publisher is set to released its third-quarter results in the US later Tuesday.

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