Big Games, Big Records, Big Data: Comparing GTA V and COD: Ghosts

Grand Theft Auto V

One of the most popular titles of 2013, Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) currently holds 7 Guinness world records including, “highest grossing game in 24 hours” and “best-selling videogame in 24 hours.” Just 3 days after the release of GTAV, the game had grossed $1 billion. GTAV broke all of Call of Duty: Black Ops II (COD: BOII) records and with the release of Call of Duty: Ghost (COD: Ghosts) Activision hoped to get back some records. Unfortunately, COD: Ghosts did not outsell Black Ops II which leaves GTAV still holding all the glory.

We wanted to see, from an online perspective, what could have encouraged GTAV to outsell COD: Ghosts by such a large margin. This compelled us to look at the 3 leading indicators of sales success; opportunity, online marketing buzz, and online product interest. Although COD: Ghosts had the edge in online opportunity, GTAV made the most out of the opportunity it had, showcased through their higher proportion of gamers in the buzz and product interest in the title.

  Call of Duty: Ghosts Grand Theft Auto V
Opportunity X  
Buzz   X
Product Interest   X

Opportunity: Gamers in the Marketplace

Using Compete’s Gamer behavioral category as a comparison to the entire Internet Browsing Population (IBP) we defined the online market potential for videogames. In November 2013, when COD: Ghosts was released, 7.0% of the IBP was comprised of gamers, compared to only 5.1% in September 2013 when GTAV was released. COD: Ghosts had a greater online audience to appeal to, thus they had a larger base in which to target their marketing.

Buzz: Gamers’ love blogs

In order to see which game was better capturing the attention of gamers, we looked at how many people read blog articles or performed searches related to the titles and the results are shown in the table below.

Attention of Gamers

The titles on top gamer blogs GTAV and COD: Ghosts, articles were viewed by 8.0% and 4.9% of the Gamers behavioral category population, respectively.

GTAV was read and searched for considerably more than COD: Ghosts. The data shows more gamers were paying attention to GTAV than COD: Ghosts. With GTAV generating more buzz around their product, they captured more attention from the gamer demographic. As our data shows, engaging with the buzz is a considerable indicator of someone’s interest in a product as well as their intention to make a purchase.

Product Interest: Online Shopping Replacing Window Shopping?

Someone may stop and glance through the window of a videogame store if a product catches their eye, but when customers are viewing product pages at online retailers they are mere clicks away from finalizing their purchase. When looking at the percentage of our Gamer Behavioral Category who shopped on top online retailer sites, the interest in GTAV and COD: Ghosts was close but ultimately leaned in favor of GTAV. COD: Ghosts had a larger online gamer population to sell to (re: opportunity) however they only captured 2.1% of their market, while GTAV seized 2.9%. In order for COD: Ghosts to also achieve the 2.9% of their market they would have had to drive over 100,000 more consumers to their product pages. COD: Ghosts was not able to maximize on their wider audience to drive more sales.

What Does it All Mean?

Could the exceptional performance of GTAV sales be due to Rockstar’s market tactics for these flagship titles? Rockstar could be maximizing on their controversial subject matter which undeniably captures attention and hype. With a lengthy amount of time since the last Grand Theft Auto game, gamers are anticipating and excited about the new title in the series. Activision has stuck to their online multiplayer, intensive game-play for the past few Call of Duty titles, and coming out with a new one every year may not amount to anticipation factor GTAV has. Sales are driven by eager and excited consumers, the wait people endured for the GTAV game paid off.

About Rachel Ellis:
Rachel Ellis is an analyst in the Technology & Entertainment vertical at Compete. Rachel is a graduate of George Mason University and earned her B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Data Analysis and a minor in Global Systems. She loves music and video games, you can connect with her on LinkedIn or Google+.