An image from 'Call of Duty: Black Ops II.'(Photo: Activision/Treyarch)
Mike Snider, USA TODAY
November 16. 2012 - Call of Duty continues to answer the call at retail.
In its first 24 hours in stores, the latest entry in the multibillion dollar franchise Call of Duty: Black Ops II topped $500 million in sales worldwide, according to the game's publisher Activision. The massive game release again cements Call of Duty's annual arrival as the biggest entertainment launch of the year, Activision says.
The Call of Duty franchise, begun in 2003, has tallied total sales that surpass global box office receipts for the Harry Potter and Star Wars films, the company says. Last year's first-day sales for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 topped $400 million, which also set a record by surpassing 2010's release of Black Ops, which hit $360 million. Its the fourth consecutive year that Call of Duty's annual November release has resulted in a record sales mark, Activision says.
"Call of Duty has become more than a product people buy, it's a brand people buy into," said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg in a statement. "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."
Over the years, as certain video games have gained in popularity, publishers have compared the releases to that of blockbuster films as a way to suggest impact at the cash register -- and in pop culture. Upon the release of Halo 3 in 2007, Microsoft hailed that game's first-day reception as the top grossing entertainment launch with $170 million in sales.
The latest game in that Xbox franchise, Halo 4, had its own massive launch last week, selling more than $220 million on its Nov. 6 release, Microsoft says. That game is only available for Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game system, while Call of Duty: Black Ops II can be played on multiple game platforms including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs.
Retailers such as Amazon and GameStop have said that pre-orders for Black Ops II topped that of last year's Modern Warfare 3 game. That led Activision to predict that Black Ops II would become the top-selling video game of all-time.
That could happen, says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. The first Black Ops game remains the all-time top seller at 25 million, he says. Modern Warfare 3 sold about 23 million. Based on the early sales, Black Ops II should sell more briskly than MW3, he says, but whether it becomes the all-time best seller remains to be seen.