Modern Warfare a Major Moneyspinner

Not only does Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 appears to have had the biggest grossing launch day of any game in history, but its publishers are calling it the biggest entertainment launch in history.

The game sold 6.5 million copies in the UK and US on Tuesday, with total revenue topping $400 million. That’s beaten two previous CoD games which were previous claimants to the title.

Activision isn’t happy with just the games record however: it’s arguing this is the biggest first-day taking of any entertainment product. In terms of revenue, that may be hard to argue with. To put things into context, the first day’s COD sales (including the UK) took four times as much money as the entire top ten movies in the US achieved last weekend.

Some of Activision’s claims are a little more questionable, however. It claims that sales of all Call of Duty combined total more than the box office takings of either the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings franchises. Even if that is true (and it’s questionable given A New Hope alone is listed as grossing more than $775 million), it’s very misleading. It doesn’t take account of inflation dating back to the late 1970s. It doesn’t take account of DVD sales. And as George Lucas would gleefully point out, it doesn’t take account of associated merchandise: let’s be honest, in 20 years, nobody’s going to regret having chucked out their old CoD action figures.

Speaking of Modern Warfare 3, The Guardian’s Keith Stuart has an interesting insight into the sharp disparity between the positive reviews of professional critics and the initial hostile response of online user reviews. For example, at the time of writing the average pro review score at Metacritic is 89 out of 100, while nearly 4,500 ordinary users have given it an average rating of 3.1 out of 10.

Stuart notes this appears to be a reversal of the usual pattern: this time critics have welcomed the game being largely similar to its well-received predecessors, while users are complaining of a lazy cash-in exercise that amounts to little more than a new map pack. He also quotes one gaming magazine editor who suggests that the problem is that CoD can’t dramatically change its concept or set-up and should thus be thought of more like a sports game franchise that only has minor tweaks and improvements each year.