Given its history, this was hardly a sneak attack: the latest entrant in the Call of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare 3, has set a record for launch-day sales.
According to the game's publisher, Activision, Modern Warfare 3 generated over $400 million in revenue and sold 6.5 million units in the U.S. and U.K. in its first 24 hours on store shelves. By hitting that mark, Modern Warfare 3, which launched Tuesday, easily outpaced its predecessor and the former leader, Call of Duty: Black Ops, which generated $360 million on its launch day last year. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had the best launch of all time prior to Black Ops, posting launch-day sales of $310 million.
"We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said today in a statement. "Other than Call of Duty, 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."
That said, the comparison between a video game and other forms of entertainment, like movies or books, isn't necessarily fair. Modern Warfare 3 is on store shelves for $60. The average movie ticket nowadays typically sets customers back somewhere between $10 and $20. And with more people opting for e-books over hardcovers, consumers who used to pay $35 to buy a book are now paying much less.
At CNET sister site GameSpot, reviewer Chris Watters offered a positive, if tempered, assessment:
"This is an exciting and rewarding game, but the series' signature thrills have lost some of their luster," Watters writes. "Modern Warfare 3 iterates rather than innovates, so the fun you have is familiar. Fortunately, it's also utterly engrossing and immensely satisfying, giving fans another reason to rejoice in this busy shooter season."
Activision appears to be well on its way to setting other records with Modern Warfare 3. Last year, the company announced that Black Ops set a six-week sales record by generating $1 billion in revenue. Earlier this month, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said that he believed Modern Warfare 3 would reach even greater heights, potentially posting revenue of $1.1 billion in its first six weeks of availability.
Activision has not divulged any estimates it might have on Modern Warfare 3's six-week sales figures, but rest assured that if it beats that record, it will tell the world.