Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg has denied that Call of Duty: Ghosts' relatively sluggish sales have anything to do with a decline in interest from fans, instead blaming the arrival of next-gen consoles.

"No," Hirshberg replied when asked by Game Informer whether Activision was concerned that Call of Duty could be suffering from franchise fatigue.

"We've been pretty transparent all year that we think, because of the challenges of the console transition year, that that was likely in the short-term. I think it would be a mistake to conflate the challenges of the console transition year with any indications about the health of the franchise."

Unlike EA, which suggested recently that annualising Battlefield could damage the series, Hirshberg doesn't believe that annualising a series like Call of Duty poses any threat to the brand.

"Well no, obviously not - and obviously I don't agree with the critics there," he said, replying to a question asking whether annual Call of Duty releases could ultimately harm the series. "I know that Call of Duty's a polarising franchise with some of the critics, and it's clear to me that not all the critics like our strategy of making a game every year, but thankfully our fans do.

"It's also clear to me that the critical response doesn't always mirror the fans' appreciation of a game. We actually do read the critics' comments and take them into consideration during our creative process, but we just can't measure ourselves by that yardstick alone.

"Our most important audience is our fans, so we try to stay laser-focused on making games that they love. If you look at the fact that [Ghosts is] the most pre-ordered game of the year, it's the most pre-ordered next-gen game of the year, it's already the number one most played on Xbox Live, and that we're seeing longer average playtimes than ever before, we're confident that we're doing well by the criteria that matter most."

Call of Duty: Ghosts' launch sales were thought to be down a huge 50 per cent on last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. It also received a bit of a kicking by the critics, becoming the lowest-rated core Call of Duty title on Metacritic.

But despite a rocky start, momentum for the game appears to have picked up on next-gen consoles, where it's become the UK's top-selling piece of standalone software on Xbox One and the best-selling PS4 game in North America.

More than $1 billion worth of Call of Duty: Ghosts inventory was sold into retail within the first 24 hours.

Source: Game Informer | January 2014

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