I don’t believe anybody questions the fact that the Modern Warfare series has been one of the most successful video game franchises of the past few years, but if somebody still has doubts about it Activision has announced that the latest entry in the series has reached $1 billion in sales in just 16 days. The American publisher considers this game to be the one of the most important launches ever and now they have numbers to defend their point of view.
According to Activision, Modern Warfare 3 has reached $1 billion in sales before any other similar entertainment property and the company compared the success of their game with James Cameron’s Avatar. For those who aren’t familiar with it, 2009’s Avatar is an epic science fiction film famous for its unique story, special effects, use of stereoscopic 3D and the fact that it eventually became the highest grossing film of all time, surpassing Titanic (which was also directed by James Cameron.) The former reached $1 billion 17 days after being released.
Additionally, Activision states that the Call of Duty community has 30 million players, making it larger than the combined populations of New York, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo and London. The Call of Duty Elite service has also been referenced by the company and they said that around 6 million players are members and 1 million of them have a paid memberships. It should also be noted that on its first day in the United States and the United Kingdom, the game sold 6.5 million units even when it was directly competing with Battlefield 3.
Although most analysts were already predicting that the military first-person shooter was going to be a huge success, I believe that the comparison with other media is unfair. The price of movie tickets fluctuate a lot and the only reason why Avatar is considered the highest grossing film of all time is just because movie theaters charged extra for those tickets because the film was released in the 3D format. Still, a game is much more expensive than a movie ticket and even though a billion dollars is a staggering number, it can’t be directly compared to the sales of a film.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Call of Duty: Black Ops is still considered one of the best-selling video games of all time and has also reached the $1 billion is sales, albeit it took longer than 16 days. When Black Ops came out, Activision also compared the sales performance of the game with anticipated opening movies such as Harry Potter and the Deadly Hollows – Part One. Although I still think comparing the sales of games and films is woefully inadequate, the numbers that current companies from both industries are referring to are more than surprising and it’s simply astonishing that one title can attract the attention of so many people.