Year after year, a Call of Duty game hits store shelves and within about 24 hours, Activision's PR team is shouting from the rooftops about the series setting a new entertainment industry sales record. The most recent release, Black Ops II, is no exception.
But several other gaming franchises have had blockbuster opening weekends as well, earning more in a one- or five-day period than most games make in their entire lifespan.
Here's a look at the 10 biggest debuts in gaming history.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012)
The newest entry on the list is also the biggest ever (it tends to work that way.) Black Ops II enjoyed the biggest opening the franchise has seen to date, taking in $500 million in its first 24 hours. To put that in perspective, that's more in one day than The Dark Knight Rises made during its entire theatrical run and more than five times as much as the day-one box office take from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)
Last year's Call of Duty started out very, very strong — earning $400 million in the first 24 hours — and topped the $1 billion sales mark in just 16 days. It seemed poised to set a new overall sales record for the franchise, but sales started to slow down in early 2012. The game ultimately fell short of the number Black Ops had set the previous year.
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
Before Black Ops, Call of Duty games that weren't made by developer Infinity Ward tended to be overlooked by gamers. Treyarch's Cold War-era take on the series, though, broke that mold by netting $360 million in its first 24 hours. Within five days, the amount had climbed to $650 million. It is, at present, the best selling game in the Call of Duty franchise.
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
This was the one that really put Call of Duty on the mainstream entertainment radar. Its predecessor, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, had been a big success, but Activision never released worldwide sales numbers. Modern Warfare 2, however, boasted sales of $310 million in its first 24 hours and ratcheted that up to $550 million after five days. After about two months, it topped $1 billion…and the Call of Duty sales juggernaut hasn't slowed down yet.
5. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
When Rockstar Games puts out a new GTA game, people come running. This 2008 release boasted day one sales of $310 million and increased that number to $500 million by the end of the first week. That broke the record Halo 3 had set the previous year and destroyed the opening weekend takes of the year's biggest films: The Dark Knight ($153.3 million), Iron Man ($100.8 million) and Wall-E ($62.5 million).
6. Halo 4 (2012)
The return of Master Chief brought a lot of gamers out of the woodwork. Halo 4 sales topped $220 million on the game's first day, which was slightly higher than the opening weekend box office take from this summer's The Avengers. At the time, that made it 2012's biggest game launch, a record it held for exactly one week — until Black Ops II came out.
7. Diablo III (2012)
Fans of Blizzard's click-tastic RPG spent 12 years waiting for this sequel, so it's not shocking that it was a huge seller out of the gate. A PC exclusive, the game sold 3.5 million copies in its first 24 hours (meaning sales of about $210 million). Within a week, it had sold 6.3 million copies, which works out to sales of roughly $378 million. It holds the current record for the fastest-selling PC game ever.
8. Halo Reach (2010)
Bungie's farewell to the Halo franchise recorded sales of $200 million on its first day. Within 16 days, it had increased that haul to $350 million. The numbers were nothing to scoff at, but they were a bit lower than many observers were expecting given the loyalty of Bungie's fan base. It was, if nothing else, a clear signal that gamers were more than ready for Master Chief to make his return.
9. Halo 3 (2007)
The final chapter of Chief's first trilogy was a certified gaming event, and the numbers proved it. In the first 24 hours, the game pocketed sales of $170 million, a $50 million improvement on its predecessor. By the end of the first week, that sales number had climbed to $300 million. And within a little over three months, over 8 million copies of the game had been sold.
10. FIFA '13 (2012)
Electronic Arts has long relied on the FIFA franchise to boost its earnings, but this year's installment shattered the series' own sales records. Early totals were so-so (at least in the context of this list), with the game selling 1.23 million copies in the first two days. By the end of day five, though, the game had sold 4.5 million copies, putting estimated sales at $270 million.