Fire in the hole: Call of Duty obliterates Hollywood box office

November 13, 2009

Here’s a blog post from our colleague Ben Deighton in London:

Robotic drone planes and night vision sniper rifles take their aim at traditional media in the latest installment of the Call of Duty series — Modern Warfare 2.

The game made about $310 million North America and the UK in its first day, dwarfing the up to $60 million that blockbuster movies gross on their opening.

But it’s not just in cash terms that games like Modern Warfare 2 are challenging the medium of film. Played on a wide screen TV in dazzling high definition, graphics have become so detailed and carefully rendered that they almost give players the sensation of being in a film themselves.

Like the first installment, players occupy a range of different characters, including a British special forces fighter and a U.S. soldier.

This means that the scenes range from assaulting an oil rig by submarine and attacking a base in the middle of a blizzard and escaping James Bond style on a snowmobile, to fighting through the oval office.

However the game subverts the largely historical message of the Call of Duty series, and instead paints a bleak future where players find themselves retaking the White House from Russian invaders and fighting pitched battles through U.S. suburban houses.

Publisher Activision even ended up having to give players the chance to opt out of a particularly gruesome scene where they are asked to mow down civilians in an airport in order to infiltrate a terrorist group.

However some scenes take the gaming experience to a whole new level, like the one where players find themselves on a space station watching a nuclear missile being launched into the atmosphere.

With Modern Warfare 2, Activision really has thrown down the gauntlet to other game makers. Let’s see how they respond.


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uh, doesn’t this game cost $60? what do movie tickets cost, $10-$12?

Posted by robert | Report as abusive

While the game itself costs $60 a piece, the game itself had already sold OVER 2.2 million copies nearly a month before the title was released in pre-order sales alone.

Once the title actually hit the streets, it sold a staggering 7 million copies in a single day, world-wide (with about 4.2 million in the US alone).

Posted by jusmailuck | Report as abusive

Yeah, movie tickets are 1/5th the price, however:
– You can’t pause them, or rewatch them
– You can’t watch them from the comfort of your living room
– You are forced to watch 15 minutes of Coca-Cola ads before the trailers even start
– You get, at best, 2.5 hours out of a film, whereas it took me about 5-6 hours to beat MW2 on regular difficulty, and I have every intention of at LEAST another full run-through, not including special-ops or multiplayer
– You only have to deal with your own children running around annoying the hell out of you while playing MW2
– The storyline and action in MW2 dwarfs just about every “blockbuster” film i’ve seen in the past several years
– I can resell a video game to recoup my losses, or return it (for store credit at the very least) if it’s an awful piece of garbage

Posted by M.J. | Report as abusive