And, true to form in the gaming world, a few cash-strapped types immediately put those copies up for sale on eBay. Some went for a couple hundred dollars, but one lucky seller saw a bidding war erupt — and may have walked away with $1,725 for his copy.
It is, of course, impossible to know if the auction bid was a legitimate one or just a merry eBay prankster seeing how high he or she could drive the price. (eBay has since removed the auction page and the bid history.) But if it is somehow legitimate, it's a testament to the rabid enthusiasm Activision's game can evoke.
It's also the leading contender for the year's best example of schadenfreude. For one thing, the seller estimated shipping to occur within 3-4 days, meaning the buyer wouldn't get it until a day or two before the official release on November 8th, anyway. And to top that off, no sooner did word leak out about the sale (which ended Thursday night at 7:20pm PT), then Activision instructed Microsoft to ban any players caught playing the game before the official Nov. 8 launch. Whoops!
That's a decision likely to anger fans who legitimately purchased copies from Sears, and who were initially told by Microsoft that they could play the game without repercussions.
But it's not likely to hurt the franchise in the long run. Pre-orders for the game are at a record high — and Wall St. analyst Michael Pachter expects Modern Warfare 3 will generate $1.1 billion in revenue in its first six weeks.
That will easily out muscle EA's competing military shooter Battlefield 3, but that's a shove that has been very clearly telegraphed.
A list of the most popular games being played on Xbox Live issued earlier this week showed two previous installments of the Call of Duty franchise -- Black Ops and 2009's Modern Warfare 2 -- were still more popular with players than the just-released Battlefield 3.
Told ya they were a dedicated bunch.