Black Ops II nets $1 billion

Latest Call of Duty game hits sales milestone in 15 days, outpacing Modern Warfare 3; 150 million hours played across Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II has generated $1 billion in worldwide revenue since launch on November 13, Activision announced today. The game reached the sales milestone in 15 days, outpacing last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which needed 16 days to net $1 billion.

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Citing Chart-Track data and internal company estimates, Activision said Black Ops II's record-setting sales illustrate the "strong appeal of interactive audiences worldwide." The company claims Black Ops II is off to a faster start than Hollywood juggernaut Avatar, which took 17 days to net $1 billion.

The accolades for Black Ops II and the Call of Duty series do not stop there. In a statement, Activision CEO Robert Kotick said since the series launched, total worldwide franchise sales have surpassed box office receipts for the top 10 grossing films of 2012 combined. Additionally, Kotick reiterated that life-to-date Call of Duty series sales have exceeded total worldwide box office revenue for the iconic Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises.

Additionally, Activision said since launch, players have logged more than 150 million hours of Black Ops II playtime across Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

According to Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, the success of Black Ops II is no mistake. The executive said that if Activision wants to keep the Call of Duty series relevant and compelling, the company must bring fresh ideas and innovation to each new entry while simultaneously balancing the core tenets of the series.

"That's what we did with Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and that's what we intend to keep on doing," Hirshberg said in a statement.

Though Activision may have another billion-dollar game to add to its resume, the Call of Duty series may be declining. In a note to investors last week, Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia projected that first-year sales for Black Ops II are trending down by 15 percent over Modern Warfare 3.

If accurate, this would be the second year running that the Call of Duty brand has declined year-over-year. The first came last year, Bhatia said, when Modern Warfare 3 was down 5 percent against sales of the original Call of Duty: Black Ops.

"It goes without saying that weakness in this franchise is a cause for concern," Bhatia said at the time.

Last month, Activision announced that Black Ops II netted $500 million during its first 24 hours, cruising past Modern Warfare 3's day-one haul of $400 million. Importantly, though, Modern Warfare 3's figure only accounts for North American and European sales, while Black Ops II's figure factors in all regions.

Additionally, Activision did not reveal five-day sales of Black Ops II. This is a departure from normative behavior, as the publisher announced five-day sales for 2011's Modern Warfare 3 ($775 million), 2010's original Black Ops ($650 million), and 2009's Modern Warfare 2 ($550 million).

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