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Modern Warfare 2 sells 20 million, Activision eyeing used market

E3 2010: In analyst presentation, Activision says there's an "insatiable" market for new shooters, aims to be most profitable entertainment company within 10 years; planning ways to get a piece of the $500 million used-game industry.


LOS ANGELES--Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has passed another milestone. In a pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo analysts event tonight, Activision announced that the Infinity Ward-developed first-person shooter has now sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

Activision believes first-person shooter fans have an insatiable appetite for quality examples of the genre.
Activision believes first-person shooter fans have an insatiable appetite for quality examples of the genre.

If that game's success wasn't staggering enough, CEO Bobby Kotick told analysts that the next title, Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops, could possibly do even better. Kotick noted multiple times that the Call of Duty series has grown more successful with each new installment and said that preorders for Black Ops are tracking higher right now than those of Modern Warfare 2 when that game was this far out from release. Black Ops is set for a November 9 debut.

Activision has been ramping up its Call of Duty development schedule with new games in the works from Sledgehammer, Treyarch, and Infinity Ward, and it also has an Asian-focused online game in the works. The publisher even dedicated a business division to the franchise, but there seems to be little worry about flooding the market with Call of Duty titles. During the event, Activision chief operating officer Thomas Tippl said the publisher has recognized the "[first-person shooter] audience has an insatiable appetite for great new content."

The executives covered more than just its popular military shooter series in the event. Kotick set a goal to see Activision become "the world's most profitable entertainment company" in 5 to 10 years. He specifically noted that the most profitable franchises rising to prominence today are originating in gaming and then migrating to other media, where in previous years those properties were more likely to start as films.

One profitable part of the gaming industry Activision is looking to get into is the used-game market. Kotick said the publisher sees a $500 million opportunity in second-hand sales and is considering how it can get a slice of the pie. Rather than opening up its own used-game stores to compete with GameStop, the publisher suggested it would work with existing retailers to come up with new solutions. For example, Kotick suggested offering used sellers some sort of value-added content for a cut of whatever a used Activision game sells for.

Recently, publishers like Electronic Arts have adopted Online Pass models that charge extra for features like a game's online functions. However, new copies of the game are packed with a one-time-use code that grants free access to those features.

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