'Call of Duty' Tears Down Records on Opening Day

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As expected, Call of Duty: Black Ops shattered the single-day record for a video game, reaping $360 million dollars in sales. To put the king's ransom in context, it blows past Microsoft's $200 million Halo: Reach launch and beats its Call of Duty predecessor by more than $50 million. Activision Blizzard, the company behind the title, has helped hype the release as the "biggest" entertainment launch of all time because of its opening-day haul. Since the gaming industry likes to compare its titles to Hollywood blockbusters (which are usually classified by opening weekend numbers), it's worth noting the title falls slightly short of the multi-day opening of Harry Potter 6's $394 million .

Still, Black Ops can be unequivocally called a massive worldwide success and one of the most lucrative titles ever. Shaking off any lingering controversy—from a Castro assassination plot to its "twisted" advertising campaign—the first-person shooter has prevailed with consumers on day one.


  • This Could Earn More Than a Billion Dollars This Holiday Season  Aiming to forecast the game's final tally, a team of Financial Times reporters quotes an expert who figures that the game will reap more than a billion dollars in retail sales, putting it in a select club that includes, among others, James Cameron's Titanic and Michael Jackson's Thriller."The figure, exceeding the previous US and UK record of $310m set by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, confirms games’ ability to generate bigger initial sales than Hollywood films, even if movie blockbusters still sell more over time. Avatar, James Cameron’s 3D epic, took $242m worldwide in its opening weekend," they note.
  • Activision Is Boasting About Their Record... PC World's Chloe Albanesius relays the statement published by Activision Blizzard's chief executive, Bobby Kotick. Here's how he describes the performance: "There has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records for two consecutive years and we are on track to outperform last year's five-day global sales record of $550 million...The game's success underscores the pop culture appeal of the brand. 'Call of Duty: Black Ops' is the finest game that Treyarch has ever made and raises the bar for online gameplay by delivering the deepest and most intense Call of Duty experience yet."
  • ...Deservedly So, They Have Another Hit Coming Out Soon  "Net income at Activision Blizzard more than tripled to $51 million in the third quarter on revenue that was up 6% to $745 million," observes Paul Bond at The Hollywood Reporter. "Besides Black Ops, the company also has World of Warcraft: Cataclysm on deck this quarter, also expected to do brisk business.Activision Blizzard shares were up 1.5% on Wednesday to $11.63 and unchanged in after-hours trading."
  • It's Optimized Specifically For 3D TVs  Pushing for even more immersion, the title was also "available in a 3-D version designed for a new crop of consumers who own high definition 3-D televisions or computers that support 3-D graphics," reports Nick Bilton at The New York Times. "The company says the 3-D version will make the gameplay even more dramatic and immersive. This new format could help the game shatter previous game sales records." (This may be similar to the way higher-priced 3D ticket sales have inflated Hollywood's box office grosses.)
  • Only the Latest Example of the Blockbuster Gaming Experience  Noting that the opening-day sales deservedly earns the title "the biggest entertainment launch of all-time" AOL News writer Dave Thier also quotes an excited Activision CEO: "Video games have recently penetrated deeper than ever into the mainstream with casual offerings like 'FarmVille' on Facebook. But Eric Hirshberg, CEO of 'Call of Duty' publisher Activision, says the record sales figures show that the demand for involved, blockbuster gaming experiences has grown as well....'It's rare that a franchise is so satisfying to core enthusiast gamers and also so appealing to a mass audience,'" said Hirschberg.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.