It’s been a rocky year for video games sales, but don’t tell that to Call of Duty.
Game publisher Activision Blizzard announced on Monday that Modern Warfare 3, the latest entry in their blockbuster shooter series, topped $1 billion in worldwide sales a record 16 days after its release on November 8th. That beats the previous record holder, James Cameron’s 2009 3D film “Avatar“, which took 17 days to reach the mark.
“Call of Duty has become that rare entertainment franchise that transcends its own genre” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Core gamers love it, as our stellar reviews show. But every year, new people are drawn into Call of Duty.”
Reaching $1 billion in just over two weeks is impressive, but it’s not like we didn’t see it coming. The game already set new entertainment launch records by earning $400 million in its first 24 hours and$775 million in its first five days.
Modern Warfare 3’s spectacular start — a full 7% ahead of last year’s smash hit Call of Duty: Black Ops — helped November game sales exceed analyst expectations, though on the whole, 2011 has been a down year for the industry.
Activision is also seeing dollar signs thanks to the company’s Call of Duty Elite subscription service, which gives users access to a robust suite of stat tracking, tips and other features. Over 6 million players have registered for the service since launching alongside Modern Warfare 3 in early November, a million of which are paid, premium subscriptions. Activision points out it took Netflix and Xbox Live a solid year to reach one million paid subscribers.
Critics are digging the game, too. Over the weekend, Modern Warfare 3 won the ‘Best Shooter’ category in the 2011 Spike TV Video Game Awards.