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Elden Ring pulls off a rare feat — outselling Call of Duty

NPD says FromSoftware RPG is the US’ biggest seller over the past 12 months — beating Call of Duty: Vanguard

Landscape view of Elden Ring — a mounted knight looks out on ruins with a glowing, mystical tree growing up through the middle Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment

Here’s something we didn’t expect to write: Elden Ring is the United States’ best selling video game of the past 12 months, according to the NPD Group, beating out a Call of Duty franchise that typically dominates the calendar year after year. It’s important to remember that Elden Ring launched on Feb. 25.

Mat Piscatella, the NPD group’s top analyst for the video games market, revealed the numbers in a Twitter thread Friday morning that covered several other trends NPD measured for April.

On Tuesday, Elden Ring’s publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment told investors that the game had sold 13.4 million units worldwide, adding another 1.4 million copies to the 12 million it boasted by mid-March. The game’s meteoric launch led developer FromSoftware to tout it, in March, as the beginning of a new franchise that will expand to other media. Elden Ring is a collaboration of director Hidetaka Miyazaki (the director behind the Souls games, as well as Bloodborne and Sekiro) and George R.R. Martin, the author of the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series that was adapted into HBO’s Game of Thrones series.

Although Call of Duty: Vanguard was 2021’s top selling video game (after launching Nov. 5), Activision’s most recent quarterly earnings report blamed the shooter’s lukewarm commercial reception, in part, for overall earnings that came in about $300 million short of the company’s forecasts. Activision said Vanguard’s lower sales came “primarily due to our own execution,” but did opine that “the game’s World War II setting didn’t resonate with some of our community, and didn’t deliver as much innovation in the premium game as we would have liked.”

The franchise will likely rebound this November, as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a reboot sequel in the series’ most popular sub-genre, was announced two weeks ago. It’s a sequel to 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which Activision says is the most successful Call of Duty title to date. The series should also get a shot in the arm with a sequel to its free-to-play battle royale Call of Duty: Warzone, which is also expected launch in late 2022.

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