‘Call of Duty MW3’ takes $400m on first day

Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty franchise has again broken its own record for the “biggest entertainment launch” to date, with the latest instalment of the war-game franchise ringing up $400m (£250m) in first-day sales.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the PC and console game released on Tuesday, sold 6.5m units in North America and the UK within 24 hours. That means Activision outstripped Electronic Arts’ rival title, Battlefield 3, which sold 5m copies in its first week upon release last month, making it the publisher’s fastest-selling game.

Console games typically retail for several times more than a cinema ticket, complicating comparisons, but Activision says the sales figures make it the only entertainment franchise to set a new record three years in succession.

In 2009, Modern Warfare 2 posted first-day sales of $310m and last year, Call of Duty: Black Ops sold $360m.

The milestone demonstrates how blockbuster video game debuts are becoming more like Hollywood film premieres, complete with a star-studded launch party at London’s Old Billingsgate market, attended by footballers and musicians.

“We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories,” said Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard, which is largely owned by Vivendi.

“Other than Call of Duty, there has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row. Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise exceed worldwide theatrical box office for Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, two of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time.”

Activision upped its 2011 forecasts earlier this week as Modern Warfare 3 went on sale. Analysts had predicted it would at least match the 25m total sales of Black Ops.

However, Activision is grappling with falling subscriptions at another large franchise, the online subscription game World of Warcraft.

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