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Modern Warfare blows away all records

By on November 12, 2009

ELSPA has just announced that Modern Warfare has broken every sales record in the book.

In just one day, the game sold an estimated 1.23 million copies and generated £47.7 million of revenue at retail. The previous record holder, Grand Theft Auto IV, sold 631,000 units with revenue of £27.2 million on 29th April, 2008.

Modern Warfare has been helped to its success by broken streetdates and controversial content, but even so, these are impressive statistics by any measure. Many games would be happy to sell a million units. Worldwide. Over their entire lifetime. EA recently cut a dozen games from its development slate fearing that they weren’t on track to deliver 2 million units.

Modern Warfare has delivered over 60% of that target.

In the UK.

In a single day.

As @Michael_French tweeted:

“1 in 49 people in the UK bought #mw2 yesterday @OPM_UK points out. And as @MCVMagazine & @TSIngham say, 1 in 24 households have it. Crazy.”

It’s a staggering achievement, and testament to Infinity Ward’s development and Activision’s marketing nous. Bobby Kotick famously said that he wasn’t interested in franchises that weren’t likely to be worth at least $100 million and implied therefore that Activision is likely to invest (and invest heavily) in titles that can deliver year-in, year-out.

Modern Warfare is one of those. It is, after all, a sequel. But it’s a sequel that seems to offer elements of innovation, controversy and entertainment in a neatly-packaged whole.

And if that’s how Activision plans to continue to dominate the industry, maybe that’s not so bad for us gamers after all.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: