The latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise has become the biggest entertainment launch of all time, smashing the previous record set by its predecessor a year ago. Modern Warfare 3 brought in over $400 million in revenue in 24 hours, selling 6.5 million copies in the US and UK.
Call of Duty: Black Ops generated $360 million on opening day last year, again setting a new record that was previously held by a Call of Duty title. In 2009, Modern Warfare 2 sold roughly 4.7 million units in the first 24 hours available, good for $310 million in revenue.
"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," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotickt. "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."
At this rate, it’s pretty much a given that Modern Warfare 3 will set a new record for five-day sales worldwide. Black Ops did the same by earning $650 million, beating all theatrical box office, book and video game sales records for the same time period.
While the records are impressive, it can be a bit unfair to compare a video game launch to other entertainment releases based on revenue alone. A video game typically sells for $50-60 while a movie, for example, will only set you back $10-15 and many books are under $20.
EA’s Battlefield 3 launched late last year to generally positive reviews from critics. In a conference call to investors, EA CEO John Riccitiello stated that Battlefield 3 had shipped 10 million units within a week of its release, making it the fastest-selling game in EA history.