Call of Duty: Ghosts just made a billion dollars in one day – but hold on, that doesn’t mean video game players have handed over that kind of money yet.
Activision Blizzard announced today that it sold $1-billion of the new first-person shooting game “into retail stores worldwide.” That means the likes of EB Games, Best Buy and Wal-Mart have paid Activision more than a billion dollars just to get the game on their shelves. The number of shrink-wrapped disc boxes sold through to customers is not yet known.
Bragging rights for “fastest billion” is on the line here, so don’t expect full disclosure of those retail details any time soon.
In September, TakeTwo Interactive announced that it’s long-awaited criminal lifestyle title Grand Theft Auto V had made $800-million in its first day based on its own estimated sell-through to customers; it crossed the $1-billion plateau in three days, eventually shipping 29 million units in the first six weeks (the latter figure includes some copies sold to retailers).
TakeTwo has yet to report final sell-though figures, which means there may not be 29 million gamers with a copy GTA V, just that retailers were willing to bet their will be.
The jockeying for bragging rights is why the Activision press release spends so much time talking about the time players have spent online with Call of Duty: “More people have played Call of Duty this year than ever before, logging four billion hours of gameplay,” CEO Bobby Kotick is quoted as saying. But don’t be confused, that number represents gamers playing the older versions of this game, the brand new Ghosts is the 10th title in the franchise.
Indeed, until GTA V claimed the sales title the previous two “fastest billion” record holders were previous Call of Duty instalments (the Black Ops and Modern Warfare editions also earned hundreds of millions of dollars in their opening days).
“In the last 12 months, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, including its digital content, generated more revenues than any other console game ever has in a single year. Although it is too early to assess sell-through for Call of Duty: Ghosts, it’s launching at a time when the franchise has never been more popular,” says Kotick.
Ghosts launched on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PCs, and will also have amped up versions for the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. All of which means it has one of the largest potential audiences in all of gaming this holiday season.
Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, for waxing enthusiastic when he proclaims “we expect Call of Duty: Ghosts to be the most successful launch title for the Xbox One and PS4 by a wide margin. In fact, according to GameStop, Call of Duty: Ghosts is their most pre-reserved next gen title.”
If history is any guide, gamers will come along in due course to buy all those games. But don’t believe a billion dollars flew out of consumer wallets and into Activision’s pocket in the last 24 hours.
EDITORS NOTE: A previous version of this story reported that TakeTwo's $800-million first day included sell-in figures, the company maintains that estimate is only comprised of games sold through to consumers. We regret any confusion.