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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Races to $1 Billion


In just the latest indication that video games are bigger than any other form of entertainment, Activision's latest shooter,  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, has earned over $1 billion in just 16 days. That's faster than the best-selling movie ever,  Avatar, and faster even than last year's  Call of Duty: Black Ops. Please remind me why we worship film and TV "celebrities" again.

"Engagement of our Call of Duty audience continues to rise around the world," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a statement. "Call of Duty as an entertainment franchise has made an indelible mark on popular culture and its broad and continued success is further validation that audiences increasingly value interactive experiences over passive experiences."

Avatar took 17 days to earn $1 billion, if you're keeping score. And to be fair, Avatar was basically a video game too, so we can chalk that one up as a win for the good guys, too.

According to Activision, the Call of Duty "community" now includes over 30 million gamers, and I'm only surprised its not bigger. The associated Call of Duty Elite online service has garnered over 6 million users since its launch (on November 8, the same day as Modern Warfare 3) and over one million premium (i.e. "paying") customers. 

"Every year, new people are drawn into Call of Duty," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg added, since you can never have too many quotes or too many CEOs. "And while the franchise continues to set records, our fans still seem to want more, demonstrated by our record setting start on Call of Duty Elite. We are committed to helping everyone connect, compete and improve their game, Call of Duty style."

I'll be playing Modern Warfare 3 throughout 2012, so I kind of get the excitement around this. But I am curious to see where Activision takes the series next, given the recent shakeups around Infinity Ward, which had started the series. Previously, the odd-numbered COD games were made by Infinity Ward (up to and including MW3) and the even-numbered COD games were made by Treyarch. And the first three COD games, plus the fifth title, Call of Duty: World at War, were World War II-era shooters, though most of the more recent titles have taken on a decidedly modern (and fictional) vibe. (Last year's Black Ops featured what was basically a Cold War-era storyline.)

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