Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has shifted over 6.5 million copies and generated $400 million of revenue in its first 24 hours. And that’s just in the UK and US.
That makes Activision’s title the biggest entertainment launch in history, but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised: the previous launch to hold this position was 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops with 'day one sales' of $360 million and before that 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with $310 million.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was suitably chuffed with the news: "There has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row. Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise exceed worldwide theatrical box office for Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, two of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time." There's a fact for you to pull out next time someone tells you games are a niche pastime.
Activision has clearly hit on something the mass market finds extremely appealing with the Call of Duty series, and the megabucks marketing campaign (including a Hollywood star-filled TV ad and a launch party attended by the likes of, er, Joey Barton and the cast of The Only Way Is Essex) doesn't hurt either.
Just as summer is the time when the major film studios roll out their biggest blockbusters, the run-up to Christmas is the prime period for games publishers to rake it in. This autumn has already seen other huge franchises updated through the likes of Battlefield 3, FIFA 12, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. And when there's this much moolah to be made even in the current depressed economic climate, ploughing investment into established franchises makes good business sense for publishers. Of course, there's a sense that new, original IPs could get pushed to the back of the pile in the rush.