PiperJaffray analyst Michael Olson says that Call of Duty's "shortened tail" and a general lack of hits are the reasons for lower retail games sales recently. Olson says that the latest game in the series – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 – isn't maintaining the same long tail sales that 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops enjoyed. He projects that the game will be the eighth largest selling game in March 2012, comparing it to Blacks Ops – which was the fifth best selling game in the same period a year ago.
"We believe big name titles are no longer able to sustain 'fat tails.'" says Olson. "This 'thinning tail' phenomenon is driven by 1) casual gamers leaving the market, 2) a steeper pre-sale and up-front curve, and 3) cannibalization from the pre-owned market."
Olson predicts that The NPD Group will report a significant drop in software revenues at U.S. retail on Thursday, when it releases retail sales data for March 2012. He also predicts that software revenues will fall by 26 percent year-over-year in March 2012 to $545 million. Wedbush's Michael Pachter expects a 23 percent drop, while Cowen and Co.'s Doug Creutz expects a 22 percent drop, and Sterne Agee's Arvind Bhatia expects a 25 – 30 percent drop.