Call of Duty: Black Ops II is now available. But industry watchers are wondering whether it will be able to carry the torch its predecessors have passed.
Over the last several years, each Call of Duty game has set a new entertainment sales record. Last year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 generated over $400 million in revenue during its first 24 hours on store shelves. That game followed the $360 million Call of Duty: Black Ops made in its first day. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 posted $310 million in launch-day sales.
Given that trajectory, it would appear that Black Ops II will beat out last year's Call of Duty game. Just yesterday, Amazon announced that Black Ops II broke its record for most pre-ordered game. The e-retailer didn't say how many customers pre-ordered the device, but its announcement portends a major launch.
Excitement surrounding Black Ops II is palpable. Gaming site IGN yesterday released the results of a poll that found 26 percent of respondents planned to skip work or school today to play Black Ops II.
However, this year, it will face off with a similarly strong franchise for consumer dollars: Halo.
Microsoft announced yesterday that Halo 4 generated over $220 million worldwide in its first 24 hours of availability, and is on track to make $300 million in its first week. With that launch, the Xbox-exclusive Halo 4 has become the biggest entertainment launch this year, beating out one-day spending on this year's top film, "The Avengers," as well as the all-time biggest box office launch in history, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."
Given Call of Duty's history, it's likely that Black Ops II will quickly eclipse Microsoft's game. However, it's worth noting that Black Ops II is launching on a host of platforms, including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and others. Halo 4 is available on the Xbox 360.
Still, Halo 4's success is notable for being the biggest launch in the game franchise's history. That is perhaps the best news for Microsoft and its game studio, 343 Industries, which took over the Halo franchise from its creator, Bungie. That game studio gave up the Halo franchise to go independent from its former owner, Microsoft. Prior to Halo 4's launch, industry followers were wondering if 343 Industries could carry the Halo franchise with the same level of effectiveness as Bungie.
Like its predecessors from Bungie, Halo 4 is a first-person shooter that follows the franchise's hero, Master Chief. According to Microsoft, Halo 4 is the first in a trilogy. Black Ops II is also a first-person shooter and follows the 2010 launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops.