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Hogwarts Legacy Primed to Dethrone Annual Bestseller Call of Duty in a Rare Sales Chart Feat

Since 2009, Call of Duty has topped the video game sales charts in the US almost without fail, only torn down from its throne by Rockstar hits
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and
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in their respective release years. But now, a third contender is preparing to overthrow Rockstar and Activision's domination of US gamers' wallets: Hogwarts Legacy.


This is according to Circana's monthly report on US video game sales, which has Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as the best-selling game of November, but still only the second best-selling game of the year to date. It's currently being beaten by Hogwarts Legacy, and at the rate things are going, it's possible (though not guaranteed) that's how it'll end the year. If Hogwarts Legacy tops the US charts for 2023, that would make this year the first time since 2008 that the number one spot wasn't held by either Call of Duty, or a Rockstar game (2008's best seller was Rock Band, per Circana).


So, what's happening here? Is Hogwarts Legacy just selling that well, or is Call of Duty doing poorly this year? The answer, according to Circana analyst Mat Piscatella, is a bit of both. Speaking to IGN, Piscatella affirms that Hogwarts Legacy's performance has indeed been striking, and has been bolstered further by the
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. In fact, it was the second-best-selling game on the Switch in dollar sales for November, trailing only
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.

But on the other hand, Modern Warfare 3's full game dollar sales are trailing Modern Warfare 2's from this time last year due to a number of different factors, including it launching a bit later in the year. "It's not to say that Modern Warfare 3 is doing poorly (it is already the 2nd best-selling game of 2023 after all), but no it is not currently meeting what Modern Warfare II did a year ago," Piscatella concludes.

Hardware is seeing a big drop in 2023​


Call of Duty isn't the only thing in Circana's report that doesn't appear to be doing as well as usual. Hardware across the board dipped in November by 24% year-over-year, with all three current generation consoles seeing declines of over 20% in dollar sales. The Switch was the biggest offender thanks to its age and growing anticipation of new hardware, but as usual, the full picture is "a bit more complicated than that" per Piscatella.

I'll let him take the rest of the explanation:

As you'll recall, last November was the first that PS5 and Xbox Series saw nearly full available supply. The pent-up demand that had been in place since these consoles launched finally started being met last year, and basically every unit that found its way to market sold. PlayStation 5 unit sales in November 2023, for example, are more than double the amount seen in November 2021. So on a year-on-year basis sure, it doesn't look great. But pulling the lens back a bit, we're still up against the comp issue. But instead of seeing huge growth because we were comparing to a supply constrained market (like we saw last year), we're seeing the reverse now, where we are comparing to a period of elevated supply and existing demand getting satiated. This comp issue is going to be a challenge in December as well and will finally start settling out in January. Tl;dr - it's (probably) not as bad as it looks.

So hardware is definitely down, but the situation is far from dire for anyone involved, and will likely level off early next year.

Since we're here, have some other notable figures from Circana's report. In software, Super Mario RPG remake debuted at No.7 on the strength of physical sales alone (Nintendo doesn't report digital sales), Naruto X Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections debuted at No.12, and Star Ocean: The Second Story R debuted at No.17. We also saw God of War: Ragnarok get a little boost in the chart in November (possibly due to a nice 50% Black Friday discount), and Just Dance 2024 similarly leaped from No.73 in October to No.20 in November for likely the exact same reason.


In hardware, the PlayStation 5 is still the best-selling hardware platform of 2023 in both units and dollar sales, followed by the Switch, though the Xbox Series took the number 2 spot for the month of November.

We won't know how the full year has shaken out in all these categories until January, when Circana's full year report and analysis comes through. And it's worth noting that when Grand Theft Auto 6 comes out, we won't know how thoroughly it trounces all of these other games, since Take-Two Interactive no longer provides the data necessary for Circana to include it in these charts anymore. So even if Hogwarts wins this year, Call of Duty seems likely to go right back to overwhelming Circana's rankings again in future years. Business as usual.


Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].

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