Activision gearing up new ‘Call of Duty’

'Black Ops' will follow successful 'Modern Warfare 2'

Activision Blizzard is looking to hold onto the sales momentum of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” which was last year’s best-selling game, and has announced “Call of Duty: Black Ops” as the follow in the franchise that bows worldwide in November.

The gamemaker is readying to launch a major publicity blitz for “Black Ops,” that hits store shelves Nov. 9. It will bow the first trailer for the new title today on Spike TV’s “GameTrailers TV” show, whose viewership is made up of the young male demo that flocked to “Modern Warfare 2.”

“Black Ops” is not designed as a sequel to “Modern Warfare 2” but a new installment in the series of “Call of Duty” games.

“Modern Warfare 2” has generated more than $1 billion in sales since its release last November, according to NPD. It set entertainment industry records last year when it sold 4.7 million copies in its first day in the U.S. and U.K. and was the first game to earn $550 million in five days. Overall, the seven games in the “Call of Duty” franchise have generated $4 billion for Activision throughout its lifetime.

Treyarch developed “Black Ops” for Activision. The company has typically produced the “Call of Duty” titles that bow every other year and was behind “Call of Duty 3” and “Call of Duty: World at War.”

Last year’s “Modern Warfare 2” was handled by Infinity Ward. Since its release, founders Jason West and Vince Zampella ankled the studio in an ongoing legal battle with Activision.

In March, Activision tapped Philip Earl to head up a new unit to shepherd the “Call of Duty” franchise and grow it online and overseas. Sledgehammer Games’ Glen A. Schofield and Michael Condrey (behind ElecArts’ “Dead Space” franchise) will handle development of future “Call of Duty” installments.

Treyarch said “Black Ops” was the first time “we have been able to focus the entire studio on one game, with dedicated multiplayer, single-player and co-op teams creating the most intense, gripping and riveting experience possible for our fans on all fronts,” said studio head Mark Lamia.

News of the next “Call of Duty” game follows Activision’s announcement Thursday that it has inked a 10 year publishing pact with Bungie, the gamemaker behind the “Halo” franchise that essentially helped Microsoft launch the Xbox videogame console. Deal makes Activision Blizzard the home of Bungie’s next videogame franchise for distribution across multiple gaming platforms.

Bungie is wrapping up “Halo: Reach” for Microsoft.

“Bungie has developed some of the most compelling and successful games, multiplayer experiences and thriving fan communities, and this alliance underscores our long-standing commitment to foster the industry’s best creative talent,” said Activision Blizzard’s chief operating officer Thomas Tippl. “Our unprecedented partnership with Bungie will enable us to broaden our pipeline of exciting new games as we continue to strengthen our industry position and pursue long-term growth opportunities.”

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