There's no doubt that Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) has a hit on its hands with Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Even Toys "R" Us joined GameStop (NYSE: GME), Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) in holding a midnight release this morning. Why should kid-friendly Geoffrey the giraffe stick his neck out to actively promote a game rated "M for Mature"? Credit the captive hold that Activision Blizzard's military franchise has on gamers of all ages.

Still, despite a promising start for Black Ops, there are more than a few reasons for Activision Blizzard shareholders to temper their enthusiasm over today's release:

  • Even if Black Ops is a hit -- which seems all but certain -- keep in mind that it will be pitted on the earnings calendar against last November's release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which broke initial sales records.
  • Industry sales have been generally sluggish, so momentum isn't in Activision Blizzard's favor. Gamers are spending less on conventional games.
  • Activision Blizzard may have dodged a bullet when Electronic Arts' (Nasdaq: ERTS) rival shooter Medal of Honor received mixed reviews last month.
  • Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Kinect rollout sucks gaming dollars out of Xbox 360 owners -- the most popular platform for previous Call of Duty games.

That last point bears fleshing out. Folks aren't just paying $150 for the Kinect motion-based controller. They'll also be shelling out roughly $50 for Kinect-based games. Even in the mad scramble of Black Ops orders last night, half of Amazon's 10 best-selling video game items were Kinect-related.

Black Ops will be a big hit. Unfortunately, Activision Blizzard may need more than a blockbuster, given its recent meandering ways.

Most of Rick's fellow Fools love Activision Blizzard. Where do you stand? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Best Buy, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart Stores are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Activision Blizzard, Best Buy, and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Best Buy. Motley Fool Options has recommended writing covered calls on GameStop. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard, Best Buy, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz will admit to still playing video games, though finding time is tricky. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.