If there were any lingering doubts that despite the massive influx in top-quality games and shooters these days, Call of Duty still holds a unique spot atop the pile, this should be the last reassurance anyone needs. After the release of Modern Warfare 3 in early November broke several opening day records, Activision is now claiming that the game managed to break the $1 billion mark in just over 2 weeks. That makes it the fastest entertainment property to ever do so, finally cementing Modern Warfare 3 as the financial peak of the Call of Duty franchise to date.
In a press release issued this morning, Activision revealed the staggering sales numbers that currently place the game's sales well above even that lofty mark, since the game is surely continuing to sell into the holiday season. While some might disagree with MW3 being considered the Avatar of video games, the James Cameron-helmed 3D feature took 17 days to rake in $1 billion, a whole 24 hours longer than Infinity Ward's latest gun-toting thrill-ride.
Modern Warfare 3 had long since surpassed the previous release, Black Ops, after shattering its 5-day sales numbers, but the seemingly unstoppable momentum of the latest game is truly impressive. What the numbers show - and what Activision is happy to point out - is that not only are fans getting more and more eager to play the game immediately upon release, but that more players are joining the community every year. Whether you're included in that group or not, it's no longer possible to ignore the rise from game to cultural phenomenon that the Call of Duty series has become.
Now boasting a community of over 30 million players - seriously, almost the population of Canada - the devoted online fans have helped even years-old games beat Battlefield 3, making the previously gutsy claims of Electronic Arts seem somewhat futile in hindsight. With advertising campaigns featuring bigger stars than ever, and another title on the way from Sledgehammer, the series has yet to show any signs of slowing.
In addition to the staggering sales of the game itself, Activision is also expanding upon the previously released Call of Duty Elite subscription numbers. Over 6 million players have signed up for the service, with 1 million willing to pay up for the premium subscription. With the launch issues now confined to the past, that means that 1 in 5 CoD players is enjoying the extra features available with Elite: an impressive launch to say the least.
But as impressive as those numbers are, it may defy many expectations that were posed when rumors of a paid subscription service first surfaced. Industry analysts claimed that the rabid, dedicated, map-pack-devouring fans of the series would line up and turn out their pockets if they could get even a bit more content from the franchise or its developers. With that opportunity now given, to see just over 3% pay for a premium service paints a very different picture.
Perhaps it's only the fiercely loyal fans (and yes, 'fanboys') that are constructing an image of a community as 'hardcore' and militant in their support as the game's soldiers themselves. But with the sales growing every year, it's getting harder to ignore the fact that it's far more likely that more casual gamers are being folded into the CoD mix. If that is the case - with 80% of the game's buyers not signed up for the Elite service at all - then the momentum and potential for the next Call of Duty to outperform this release is even greater.
What's your take on the sales record smashed by Modern Warfare 3? Think movies and games can ever be equated in terms of dollars, or the discrepancy makes any comparisons misleading?
Modern Warfare 3 is available now for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.