There's no stopping the Call of Duty franchise.
The latest version of the storied military shooter, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, grossed $500 million in revenue around the world in its first 24 hours, Activision said today. The company said that marks the largest entertainment launch of the year, and the fourth consecutive year in which it could make that claim.
The Call of Duty franchise, which over the last few years has alternated between Black Ops and Modern Warfare, has been synonymous with large, splashy launches as eager gamers flock to the latest version. It is the company's marquee franchise and a major contributor to each year's revenue and profits.
"Call of Duty has become more than a product people buy, it's a brand people buy into. And every November we do more than just the launch of a game, we kick off an annual, unofficial but worldwide phenomenon called the Call of Duty season," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.
The first-day take more than doubled the $220 million haul that Halo 4 took in over its first 24 hours. The Halo franchise has only been available on the Xbox 360 and on PCs, while Call of Duty is available on every gaming console.
Activision said that revenue from its entire Call of Duty franchise has exceeded theatrical box office receipts for Hollywood franchises Star Wars and Harry Potter, the two largest film series.
Despite the strong sales of Black Ops 2, Activision said it remain cautious about this year and next, citing the still weak macroeconomic environment.
While Call of Duty remains strong, console gaming has taken a hit as consumers either pare back their entertainment budgets or shift their money over to more casual mobile games, which are less expensive or free to play on smartphones and tablets.