Analyst Sebastian Colin of Baird Equity Research says that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will break records today. His firm expects Call of Duty to set a new record for first day sales, surpassing last year’s Black Ops, and "taking its place in history as a top-five media property, with Avatar, Titanic, Thriller and Black Ops." Despite the positive outlook on Modern Warfare 3's release, Colin cautions that there might be some near-term risk from lower World of Warcraft subscriber numbers to be reported after the close - even with Activision's shares closing at a three-year high Monday.
Colin says that strong sales of MW3 should help offset declines in WoW. Sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 should reach 18-19 million units in Q4, slightly higher than last year. This should generate roughly $1.1 - $1.2 billion in retail sales. Call of Duty: Black Ops exceeded $1 billion at retail last year in Q4, following record day-one sales of 5.6 million units and $360 million in volume.
"Activision will report its Q3 earnings this afternoon; we believe a strong performance by Call of Duty should help offset further declines in World of Warcraft subscriptions, which we still expect will stabilize in the 10-11 million range."
Colin also estimates that October video game sales increased 5 - 10 percent, with Batman: Arkham City and Battlefield 3 performing well and helping to offset declines in second tier software. He also expects that seven of the top 10 console titles are on the Xbox 360, with two on the PS3 and one for Wii.