NOV. 11, 2010 • According to Activision Blizzard, Call of Duty: Black Ops generated $360 million in revenue worldwide during its first 24 hours on sale – a new record. The previous game to hold that title was the firm’s own Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 that raised $310 million in 24 hours last year. Black Ops is expected to top $1 billion in sales by the end of the holiday season.
Impact: For Activision, this represents a significant achievement in the wake of the shakeup at its Infinity Ward studio earlier this year. After Activision let go the Encino, Calif. studio’s top two executives and co-founders amid widely covered controversy, many of the Infinity Ward department leads and other key talent followed the executives to the newly formed Respawn Entertainment. Many industry observers believed this was the beginning of the end of the Call of Duty franchise and no future release, including the at the time unnamed November 2010 sequel from Treyarch (the Activision studio behind Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War) would ever surpass the record breaking Modern Warfare 2. While the longevity of any major franchise can never be predicted with 100% accuracy, it points to the power of big brands and mega marketing budgets. It is perhaps the best example from 2010 of the biggest brands taking a larger share of the year’s declining retail video game market compared to 2009. But it should also be noted that this was Treyarch’s most well reviewed Call of Duty game yet.