Forget The Beatles’ back catalogue reissues, Harry Potter or the last Star Wars films. The most successful entertainment launch of all time has now been confirmed as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
According to Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition, sales of the contemporary first person shooter hit a whopping £242.4 million on the game’s first 24 hours of release. That’s all thanks to the hype surrounding pre-orders, not to mention all those guys that you saw queuing outside Game late at night.
Although the figures represent money rather than individual units, so they don’t account for inflation, it’s still an amazing feat for a game to have beaten every other modern entertainment launch, including all books, movies (box office takings) and albums, by such a substantial margin.
However, games have apparently been out-selling other forms of entertainment on launch day for some time. The editor of Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, Gaz Deaves, explains that “video game releases such as the Call of Duty series have outperformed the launches of major Hollywood blockbusters for several years and the day-one sales for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 proved once again that video games have become cultural events in their own right."
In fact, the last three entertainment products to break this record have all been games. The previous record holder was Grand Theft Auto IV, which grossed £159 million in its first 24 hours when it was released back in 2008. This overtook Halo 3, which grossed £84 million in its first day on sale. Both these figures are dwarfed by the colossal sales of Modern Warfare 2, though.
Why was it so popular? "The fan movement and hype surrounding this game in the run-up to launch was almost unprecedented in scale,” says Daves. “We acknowledged early on that the big question wasn't if it would break all-time entertainment records, but rather by how much." This is all despite the fact that the game has an 18 certificate in the UK, and is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB.
Those who are still working at the game’s developer, Infinity Ward, also appear to be chuffed with the result. The developer’s chief strategist, Robert Bowling, said that "the Call of Duty series and Modern Warfare have been our passion - we've dedicated our lives to giving our best, so it's an honour to be recognised by setting a new standard among all entertainment properties."
Sadly, many members of the game’s development team won’t be working on the next sequel. Activision recently terminated the employment of Infinity Ward bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West, and a number of other members of the team have walked out since. Way to go, Activision.