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‘Modern Warfare 3’ breaks entertainment biz records

Activision earns $400 million in one day

Having secured the entertainment industry record for biggest product launch of all time for the third year in a row, the “Call of Duty” series is already setting its sights on the next one.

Modern Warfare 3,” the latest entry in the chart-topping videogame action franchise sold 6.5 million copies in the U.S. and U.K. in its first 24 hours on shelves, earning $400 million. That tops last year’s $360 million haul from the series’ “Black Ops” installment and the $310 million earned by 2009’s “Modern Warfare 2.”

“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, CEO, Activision Blizzard. “Other than ‘Call of Duty,’ there has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row.”

Barring a tremendous loss of momentum over the coming year, the game is likely to become the best-selling videogame of all time — — a record currently held by “Black Ops.” (In March, that title hit sales of 13.7 million units.) Industry observers are actually more curious about how quickly it will hit the $1 billion mark (the current bet is less than six weeks) — and how much the game will ultimately take in.

Though released last November, “Black Ops” has been at or near the top of the industry sales charts for the past 12 months, backed up by several downloadable add-ons that have kept it relevant as other major releases have hit shelves.

“Modern Warfare 3” will have even more revenue streams, as Activision launched the game in conjunction with Call of Duty: Elite, a subscription service for players that provides access to all downloadable content for the game as well as tournaments, video content and social network functionality for players. Instead of waiting for quarterly installments of new content, subscribers will see it on a weekly and monthly basis, said Kotick.

” ‘Call of Duty’ is more than a game,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “It’s become a major part of the pop cultural landscape. It is a game that core enthusiasts love, but that also consistently draws new people into the medium.”