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Latest Call of Duty title Black Ops 2 earns $500m in 24 hours

The latest instalment in the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 2, raked in a whopping $500 million (£315 million) in retail sales around the world in its first 24 hours of release.

"With first day sales of over half a billion dollars worldwide, we believe Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row," Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement.

Activision said that millions of fans attended more than 16,000 midnight openings at retail stores worldwide to be among the first to get their hands on the game. In its first 24 hours, Black Ops 2 was a trending topic on Twitter in 23 cities worldwide. The game's launch trailer has tallied up more than 30 million YouTube views since its release on 29 October.

"Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for Harry Potter and Star Wars, the two most successful movie franchises of all time," Kotick said. "Given the challenged macro-economic environment, we remain cautious about the balance of 2012 and 2013."

The strong early sales figures are not surprising. Back in May, Amazon revealed that the single-day pre-orders for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 were three times higher than the one-day pre-order total for the game's predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Perhaps the secret to its success is that Call of Duty isn't just a game, it's a brand, according to Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.

"Every November we do more than just the launch of a game, we kick off an annual, unofficial but worldwide phenomenon called the Call of Duty season," he said.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, penned by The Dark Knight scribe David Goyer, takes place in the year 2025 where a terrorist organisation takes control of US high-tech, unmanned war machines. Besides the futuristic weaponry and military craft that look like they were pulled from the set of a Terminator flick, there are also shootouts that occur on horseback, as well as a simmering Cold War between the United States and China over rare Earth materials.

Black Ops 2 is not the only video game franchise making big bucks this month. The recently released Halo 4 earned $220 million (£138 million) in its first 24 hours.