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Plugged In

‘Modern Warfare 3′ sets day-one entertainment record

Plugged In

It's a three-peat.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision)

Modern Warfare 3, the latest installment in Activision's juggernaut shooter franchise, has set a new entertainment industry record for the biggest product launch of all time, selling 6.5 million copies in the U.S. and U.K. in its first 24 hours and earning $400 million in the process.

That tops the $360 million Call of Duty: Black Ops made last year in its first 24 hours and the $310 million Modern Warfare 2 took in during its first day in 2009.

"We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. "Other than Call of Duty, there has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row."

Kotick also points out that overall sales for the Call of Duty franchise now "exceed worldwide theatrical box office for 'Star Wars' and 'Lord of the Rings,' two of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time."

Analysts expect Modern Warfare 3 to sell nearly 20 million units by the end of the calendar year, generating roughly $1.2 billion in revenue. Black Ops cracked the $1 billion mark in six months.

Pre-orders for the game were also the biggest on record, and given that the last two installments of Modern Warfare previously held the launch record, this achievement isn't exactly a shocking one.

It's still notable, though, given the competition Modern Warfare 3 faces this year from EA's Battlefield 3, which sold 5 million copies in its first week. Some also thought Call of Duty's numbers could be hampered by lingering negative feeling among core gamers following the abrupt dismissal of series creators Jason West and Vince Zampella after the release of Modern Warfare 2.

Both factors put Modern Warfare 3 under the microscope, but the success of the game certainly backs up what analysts have been saying all along: Most players are more concerned about the game, rather than the developers behind it. And with so many people buying a copy, even those who held a grudge or resented the game because of its success, still purchased (and will likely purchase) the game so they can play with the people on their friends list.

"Call of Duty is more than a game," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. "It's become a major part of the pop cultural landscape. It is a game that core enthusiasts love, but that also consistently draws new people into the medium."

Activision also announced that they've donated $3 million of the game's sales to the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit corporation that seeks to provide job placement and training for veterans.

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