'Call of Duty' game sales top $1 billion

by Ben Fritz

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

15 January 2010


HOLLYWOOD — The video game industry got a shot of good news Wednesday before what’s expected to be a final dose of bad news on 2009 Thursday.

Activision Blizzard Inc. said sales of its blockbuster “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” have exceeded $1 billion worldwide since it launched Nov. 10.

Although the Santa Monica-based publisher didn’t specify how many units it had sold, that’s probably close to 15 million based on the 8 million units the game sold in its first week, generating $550 million in receipts.

That means the game probably already is, or soon will be, ahead of the 14.4 million units of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” sold in 2007, previously the bestselling title in the hugely popular 6-year-old “Call of Duty” military shooter series.

“Modern Warfare 2” now ranks among the bestselling video games of all time, including sequels to the “Grand Theft Auto” and “Super Mario” series.

Although sales of video games, which cost $60 or more each, are difficult to compare with theatrical box office, Activision is no doubt thrilled that its $1-billion-plus game may now be compared to “Avatar,” which recently became only the fifth movie ever to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.

The game’s continued success is good news for Activision and the industry but is far from enough to make up for what has been a difficult year for video game disc sales.

The NPD Group, which tracks retail game revenue in the U.S., will release its final figures for 2009 on Thursday afternoon.

December, always the biggest month for the industry because of holiday purchases, is expected to be as disappointing as the first 11 months of the year, when game sales fell 11 percent and total revenue, including hardware and accessories, was down 12 percent.

Sales of music games have been particularly hard hit during the economic downturn. That’s just as painful as “Modern Warfare 2” is profitable for Activision Blizzard.

Activision owns the “Guitar Hero” franchise and released four sequels or spinoffs from September to December.

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