Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Fans Go Digital in a Big Way

Each year, more and more of us turn to digital to buy games. I do it because it’s easier than running to Gamestop. Yep, I’m that lazy. Kidding aside, it also helps when you want to start playing games as soon as servers go live like in Black Ops 4’s case. Plus, you don’t have to sit around waiting for a ridiculous day one patch to download.

Activision gave us our first glimpse of how successful Black Ops 4 is a couple of days after launch. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 scored the biggest day one digital sales in Activision history. Buried in the press release were a few more eye-opening stats.

“Largest day one digital full game sales on PlayStation Store according to PlayStation.”

And, “largest Activision Xbox One digital game sales in Activision’s history based on Activision sales data.”

It’s the biggest digital launch on consoles ever. But what does that mean exactly? How many people are going digital?

Ubisoft gives us a good gauge of what digital adoption looks like for major publishers. Last year, Ubisoft revealed half of their revenue came from digital sales.

An NPD Group chart of total physical format versus total digital format clearly shows the rise in digital adoption and ‘games as a service.’

digital vs physical sales via NPD Group

The chart skews higher on the digital side because it includes add-on content, mobile apps, and social network games. But it does illustrate how the entire industry is becoming more digital heavy.

And one more data point shows how more and more gamers are buying Call of Duty via digital storefronts. UK physical Call of Duty launch sales are the lowest in 11 years. Down nearly 50% versus Call of Duty: WWII and almost 60% versus Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

“We have shattered multiple digital day one sales records, and the number of people who connected online on day one to play has grown year on year,” says Rob Kostich (he manages the Call of Duty franchise for Activision).

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 ditched its traditional story campaign this time around. Instead, it offered a slew of multiplayer/co-op offerings with regular multiplayer, Zombies, and their take on the Battle Royale genre with Blackout. And I’ve been having a blast playing each piece of Black Ops 4.

Now, we wait. Can Black Ops 4 dethrone Fortnite on Xbox’s most played chart? It’ll be fun to watch the biggest shooter franchise take on Epic’s cultural phenomenon.

As for me? I’m going to try and fail to juggle all the fantastic games released in the past few weeks. Forza, Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, Spider-Man, and Call of Duty are all incredible. And soon we’ll be adding Red Redemption 2, Hitman, Battlefield V, and more to the list.

Did you pick up Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 over the weekend? Digital or physical?