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Editor's take: Aside from Grand Theft Auto V in 2013 and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, Call of Duty has held the the rank of top-selling game in the US since 2009. As of the end of November, Hogwarts Legacy still sits at the top of year-to-date sales charts. However, scoring second with an end-of-year launch in November means Modern Warfare 3 is still on track to outsell everything else, including Hogwarts.
Circana (formerly NPD Group) has released its best-selling games list for 2023 (year-to-date). Although there is still about a month to go this year, it looks like the Harry Potter game Hogwarts Legacy could steal the crown from Call of Duty this year.
It hardly seems fair to say that since Hogwarts had such a considerable headstart. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III only launched slightly over a month ago, while Hogwarts has sold like hotcakes since February. No doubt that all things being equal, CoD would likely have retained its position, which it had held several years running. Or maybe not.
Forbes notes that Modern Warfare 3 sales have not hit the marks that MW2 hit last year. Part of this is due to a single-player campaign that was not well-received by players. The multiplayer mode seemed adequate, but Game Rant said that the game's campaign mode "doesn't hold a candle" to the original, released in 2011.
"Even at their very worst, Call of Duty campaigns are usually still quite a bit of fun," said the gaming outlet. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is not terrible, but its campaign is now considered one of the worst in the franchise, not coming close to 2011's MW3."
Over the years, Harry Potter games have generally been mediocre to outright crap. However, developer Avalanche Software threw out the Harry Potter video game rule book and made more than just another movie adaptation.
Instead, Avalanche turned the wizarding world of Harry Potter into an open-world roleplaying game. Players can make their own characters with in-depth customization and explore the fantasy realm as themselves (or their fanciful avatar) rather than playing as Harry Potter or another canonical character.
Fans seem to love this new approach. Hogwarts has the highest Metacritic ranking of all previous titles, hitting the mid-80s on all platforms. Second place would be the GameCube-era Chamber of Secrets, which scored in the low to high 70s. The last place is 2010's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, with an average Metascore of 38.5 between all platforms.
Furthermore, as of May, Hogwarts has sold 15 million copies. Forbes speculates that it is likely closer to 20 million by now. So, while Avalanche hit a homerun with its property, Activision hit a standup triple at best. But again, I think that regardless of CoD's position and the negative talk about the campaign, one month versus 10 is hardly fair. I'm still willing to bet it beats everyone by next November.
Hogwarts Legacy's move to first also bumped The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom from second to third. Sony's Spider-Man 2 hangs on to its fourth-place spot, and Madden NFL 24 dropped from October's third to fifth year-to-date, rounding out the top five for the year.