Call of Duty Grosses More Than $775 Million in Five Days to Destroy All Records

Activision’s latest Call of Duty title has shattered all previous entertainment records, grossing more than $775 million in its first five days of sales.

The gory first-person shooter has managed to outsell all movies, books and videogames during its initial debut.

It even surpassed last year’s release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which grossed $650 million, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which sold $550 million.

In an interview, Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick told AllThingsD that the game’s entertainment value compares well against other more accessible media options.

“I don’t think we have empirical evidence to support this, but the cost per hour is a lot lower than any form of entertainment,” he said. “In this difficult economy, you are getting a great value.”

The latest installment, called Modern Warfare 3, retails for about $60 and is available on the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and for the PC.

He said for that price, you get a social experience because of the multiplayer capabilities; a cinematic experience with good imagery and a story line; and an interactive experience. “It touches on all of the compelling areas of entertainment,” he said.

Activision is claiming that the Call of Duty franchise is one of the most valuable entertainment properties worldwide, having exceeded $6 billion in revenue over its lifetime. At that level, Kotick says, it is up there with “Star Wars,” the Harry Potter franchise, and maybe “Lord of the Rings.”

In its first day on the market, Activision sold more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom at an estimated sell-through rate of more than $400 million.

It’s competing against a number of blockbuster first-person shooters that are being released this winter, like Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3, which came out late last month. That title sold five million units during its first week of sales.

Not only is Call of Duty a big revenue hit, but it’s also likely sucking away time spent on other media.

According to Microsoft, more than 3.3 million unique gamers logged seven million multiplayer hours with the game by the end of Nov. 8, the first day it was available. At one point, more than 3.3 million concurrent users played the game on Xbox Live.

A companion social network for the game, called Call of Duty Elite, is being sold separately for $50 for premium access.

Kotick said Activision will release more information about sales on that soon, but “the response has been much higher than we anticipated.”


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”