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Activision 'Destiny 2' physical game sales fell more than 50% versus original in first month: Analysts

Activision Blizzard's "Destiny 2" game sales are coming in significantly below expectations and faltering in comparison to the franchise's first game, according to Wall Street.

U.S. physical game sales of "Destiny 2" declined more than 50 percent in the month of September versus the 2014 release of "Destiny" in its first month, according to NPD sell-through data sourced by three Wall Street analyst reports.

"The launch month of Destiny 2 was well short of the original iteration by a material amount," Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson wrote in a note to clients Friday, citing the NPD data.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter also called the "Destiny 2" sales "underwhelming" in a Friday report.

Pachter added the September NPD "Destiny 2" sales data missed his forecast for the game by 37 percent.

The September "Destiny 2" U.S. sales data is similar in magnitude to the 58 percent year-over-year drop during the first week of "Destiny 2" sales in the United Kingdom versus the first title, according to Gfk Chart-Track physical sell-through data revealed on Sept. 11.

To be sure, overall unit sales may be better than the NPD and Gfk Chart-Track sell-through numbers as the data thus far only tracked physical game sales in retail stores not digital game sales.

Activision Blizzard on September 15 announced Destiny 2 sales "surpassed the original's records for engagement and digital sales in launch week." However the company did not reveal a total sales number for "Destiny 2" inclusive of physical retail store sales in contrast to the "more than $325 million" first week press release for original title in 2014.

The company's CEO Bobby Kotick said on a Feb. 2016 earnings call that "for games like Destiny, it had, in the high-20%s in terms of digital downloads" versus total sales. In Feb. 2017, Activision executive Dennis Durkin said Destiny digital sales mix rose to a "mid-30s" percentage of its total sales, according to a FactSet transcript.

As a result even if "Destiny 2" digital sales are up significantly versus the original "Density," it is highly likely overall sales will still be down materially compared to the first title.

Pachter now estimates total first month "Destiny 2" sales including full game digital downloads and physical retail sales will be "down roughly 40% from the first month sales of its predecessor."

Analysts said part of the reason for the sales decline may be because it launched on two less console platforms versus the first title. In addition, some gamers may be waiting for the PC version, which launches on Oct. 24. However, the installed bases of Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One consoles increased significantly since 2014, counteracting the game not being released on Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 this time.

Activision Blizzard sent the following statement in response when asked for comment on the NPD sales data:

"The original Destiny became the biggest new console video game franchise launch in history, and Destiny 2 surpassed the original's records for engagement and digital sales in launch week. The Destiny universe will welcome a new community of players for the first time on PC on October 24."

NPD declined to comment.

The company's shares declined 2.3 percent midday Friday after the report. Activision Blizzard stock is up 72 percent this year through Thursday compared to the S&P 500's 14 percent return.


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