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Friday, November 12, 2010

New 'Call of Duty: Black Ops" blasts last year's sales record

"Call of Duty: Black Ops" blasted entertainment records this week by raking in $360 million in its first 24 hours on sale, a dramatic and lucrative indication that video games have cemented their place as mainstream entertainment on a par with movies, books and music.
For the hordes of devoted fans who waited at midnight Monday to get their hands on the military shooter, this is hardly a surprise. For them, popping the new "Call of Duty" into a game console is the equivalent of turning on the TV to watch the Super Bowl or sitting back with a tub of popcorn to watch the latest blockbuster movie. 

Across two years, with a budget well in the tens of millions of dollars, the developers of "Black Ops" created a world that immerses players in Cold War-era battles with settings ranging from 1960s Cuba to Vietnam and the Soviet Union. 

Though game developers see their creations as art, not everyone agrees. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over a California law that seeks to ban the sale of ultra-violent video games to minors. Parents' groups and politicians say games should be regulated like firearms and tobacco rather than like books and movies, which are protected by the First Amendment. A ruling is expected next year.

Many liken these games to movies - and it's an apt comparison. Along with the hyper-realistic cinematic scenery and surprise plot twists, there are well-known actors - including Gary Oldman, Ed Harris and Sam Worthington - lending their voices to the game's main characters. Also, the motion-capture technology used to track actors' bodies is the same that was used in "Avatar."

Learn about all the great new features in Black Ops Multiplayer: Theater Mode, Combat Training, the COD Currency System, Wager Matches, Massive Customization Options, Contracts, and the Emblem Editor

* The wager game mode depicted and discussed in this video is for entertainment purposes only. COD Points have no monetary value and may be used for in-game purposes only. ___________________________________________________________________________
Activision Blizzard Inc. sold 5.6 million units the day "Call of Duty" went on sale, according to the company. Its predecessor, "Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2," sold 4.7 million copies in 24 hours to reap $310 million on its first day of sale last year. Within a week, it made $550 million.

Games like "Call of Duty," "Grand Theft Auto" and "Halo" all fit into the blockbuster category, and with each sequel they only get bigger. Production budgets for these games rival those of big-screen movies, as does the marketing push behind them.
The video game audience has expanded considerably in the last five years, reaching women, young children and even senior centers. But the people who flock to "Call of Duty" and other shooters are still primarily young men, just not as young as some would think. The average U.S. game player is 34 years old, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

A big part of the appeal of "Call of Duty" is its multiplayer feature, meaning gamers can fight against someone across the country or on the other side of the world.

"Everyone thinks that games are these solitary things," said Patrick Markey, a Villanova University professor who studies video games. "But now, hooked up to the Internet, it's friends and strangers we are playing with."

"Black Ops" went on sale Tuesday in North America and the U.K. It costs $60 and works on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gaming consoles, and PCs. With that cost, games have an easier time setting dollar sales records than much less expensive movies or music.

The latest "Call of Duty" game broke records set by its predecessor a year ago. The $360 million in North American and U.K. sales on the first day is higher than any other form of entertainment - even beating box office sales of top movies in those markets over the entire opening weekend.
The game is rated M for mature - meaning it's not meant for kids under 17. It's bloody, to be sure, but new media professor Charles Palmer says that's not the main appeal.  "It's the challenge," said Palmer, who teaches at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. "It's one of those areas that thrills and excites people."

Sports games, such as "Madden," from Electronic Arts, are also popular, as are music simulators such as "Guitar Hero." But shooters in the style of "Call of Duty" continue to be the most popular.
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