The video-game industry may be suffering, but Microsoft is on a roll, just in time for the holiday shopping season. After selling more than a million Kinect units in its first 10 days on the market, the software giant is now reporting the largest entertainment launch in history with Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops has shattered theatrical box-office, book and video-game sales records for a five-day worldwide sell-through of more than $650 million. That exceeds Activision's previous record of $550 million set by last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, according to Activision estimates.
"Call of Duty has become the first entertainment property in history to set five-day launch records for two consecutive years across all forms of entertainment," said Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. "The number of people playing online and the number of hours they are playing demonstrates how online gaming has become a mainstream form of entertainment."
Xbox Live Records Broken
Kotick was hinting at Xbox LIVE data. Beyond beating all previous entertainment records, Call of Duty: Black Ops set two new records on Xbox LIVE. Microsoft reports that more than 5.9 million multiplayer hours were logged playing the game by the end of launch day, Nov. 9. Additionally, more than 2.6 million unique gamers played the game that day.
"With a record-breaking performance on Xbox LIVE, home to the world's largest Call of Duty gaming community, Call of Duty: Black Ops has already carved out its legacy as one of the biggest video games in history," said Don Mattrick, president of the interactive entertainment business at Microsoft.
Sony Gets in the Game
Although the game launched on Xbox, the game is also finding success on the Sony PlayStation 3 and as the best-selling video-game launch of all time on Amazon.com and at GameStop. Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, says, "Treyarch's latest efforts are driving unprecedented traffic to the PlayStation Network with the flagship online experience this holiday season." (The game was developed by Treyarch Entertainment.)
Call of Duty: Black Ops had the highest number of pre-orders of any video game to date, according to Paul Raines, CEO of GameStop: "It went on to become our biggest video-game launch ever, which bodes well for game sales as we enter the holidays."
What does the success of Call of Duty: Black Ops say about the state of the video-game market? "If you have a great title, people are willing to buy it," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "One of the big problems with the video-game industry is that a lot of mediocre titles are published. But if you have a hit -- and Black Ops is clearly a hit -- the market is there. There's a lot of money there, and the Call of Duty Franchise shows it."