Last year, Activision touted the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as the biggest launch in entertainment history. The Infinity Ward-developed military shooter launched November 10, 2009, and racked up North American and UK sales of $310 million in its first 24 hours on sale.
That record stood for slightly less than a year, as Activision COO and CFO Thomas Tippl today announced at the BMO Capital Markets 18th Annual Digital Entertainment Conference that Call of Duty: Black Ops racked up day-one sales of $360 million at North American and UK retailers. Activision later revealed unit sales for the game, saying Black Ops sold through 5.6 million copies in those markets, compared to 4.7 million for Modern Warfare 2.
"I have every confidence that Tuesday's sales are just the first milestone in what will be a tremendous year for Call of Duty and for our company," Tippl told the conference.
While Black Ops has enjoyed a strong debut, its longer-term prospects have been the subject of speculation. Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson said the game wouldn't be able to match Modern Warfare 2's holiday quarter sales of 16 million copies, "due to competition, weaker marketing, and the Infinity Ward situation." Activision fired Infinity Ward cofounders Jason West and Vince Zampella in March, prompting a wave of Infinity Ward developers to jump ship to West and Zampella's newly formed Respawn Entertainment.
Set in the middle of the Cold War, Black Ops depicts a number of Cold War-era covert operations in countries like Russia, Vietnam, and Cuba. The game represents new territory for the series, which has previously focused on more familiar World War II and modern-day settings.
Call of Duty: Black Ops is now available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS, and PC. For more information, check out GameSpot's review.