By NICK BILTON, NYTimes
Modern Warfare 3, the first-person shooter video game, passed $1 billion in sales in just 16 days, according to Activision Blizzard, the game’s distributor. Modern Warfare 2, an earlier installment of the game, took 60 days to reach the same milestone.
The sales did not just shatter previous video game records, but also surpassed benchmarks for movie sales. The popular 3-D movie “Avatar” took 17 days to reach $1 billion in sales.
Robert Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard, said the increase in sales was a testament to the broader appeal of Modern Warfare as an entertainment experience that was not just for gamers.
“Modern Warfare 3, and other games by us, have a much broader appeal than they have had in the past, with the social nature of the game offering a different type of interactive experience that has not existed before,” he said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “As the number of new game consoles has expanded, along with the audience, it’s capturing a new audience that in the past has not considered playing video games.”
Modern Warfare is the ninth game in the Call of Duty series, which first appeared in 2003. It is available on a number of platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii.
Mr. Kotick said he believed the Call of Duty series had been so successful because the video game creators continually focus on creating a better storytelling experience with each new game.
“Really knowing the taste of your customers is something we do really well; we’ve had so much sustained success with this franchise because we continue to look at what the audience is interested in,” he said. “We continually make sure we are delivering products that have audience appeal.”
In a press release, Activision noted that movie box office revenues were down 4 percent in 2011, to $9.4 billion, while “the number of people purchasing and participating in gaming is on the rise, with no sign of slowing.”
“With more than 30 million gamers, the Call of Duty community now exceeds the combined populations of the cities of New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Madrid,” the company boasted in the release.
It hasn’t been all good news for video games this year. In June, the NPD Group, which tracks domestic sales performance of video games, said video game sales had fallen to $863 million in May, down 23 percent from the same period a year earlier. The drop in sales was partly attributed to the recession, and they have bounced back leading up to the holidays.