Activision Climbs After New Call of Duty Wins Praise

(Bloomberg) -- Activision Blizzard Inc.’s launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops IV is showing the game could be a Fortnite killer.

The new release is already being praised by gamers and critics in the first few hours since its release. More than 293,000 concurrent viewers have tuned in on Twitch, more than triple Friday’s tally for Fortnite, the free game that sparked Wall Street fears and an industrywide sell-off earlier this year.

“Investors have cited concerns around free-to-play battle-royale title Fortnite taking market share, but we believe the latest COD is loudly staking its claim as the top shooter title,” Piper Jaffray analyst Michael J. Olson wrote in a note to clients.

Activision Climbs After New Call of Duty Wins Praise

Activision shares rose as much as 8.7 percent, the most intraday since early 2017, as tech stocks led a rebound in the broader market. Video-game peers Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc. also climbed.

Olson said sales of the game could top estimates this year given the “solid reviews,” which have been rolling in since 12:01 a.m. New York time. The game has already earned the highest Metacritic score of any installment in the franchise since 2011’s Modern Warfare 3.

Jefferies analyst Timothy O’Shea expects Call of Duty to attract up to 600,000 concurrent Twitch viewers today and estimates 10 million copies of the game will be sold this weekend, with the potential for an additional 5 million units.

“The solid performance of Call of Duty’s Blackout beta and likely strong opening weekend sales of the game have reassured investors that the Fortnite threat to large publishers such as Activision, EA, Take-Two and Ubisoft was overblown,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Kanterman said in an interview.

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