"Modern Warfare 2" blows away launch records

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The Independent Tech

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" blasted past 300 million dollars in sales on its opening day, the videogame's publisher said Thursday, blowing away even Hollywood films to become the highest-grossing entertainment launch ever.

"MW2" sold 4.7 million copies and racked up 310 million dollars in sales in the United States and Britain alone when the eagerly anticipated title from Infinity Ward studio made its worldwide debut Tuesday, according to Activision.

The videogame bested Batman superhero film "The Dark Knight," which holds the record for the top opening weekend ever by taking in 158.4 million dollars in July 2008.

"The Call of Duty franchise has become a cultural phenomenon showing the power of videogames as an entertainment medium," said Activision chief executive Mike Griffith.

"The shattering of these entertainment records is a testament to the compelling, cinematic and uniquely engaging experience that the 'Call of Duty' brand delivers."

"MW2" is the sixth title in a "Call of Duty" franchise that has won a devoted following since the first version was released in 2003.

Activision believes "MW2" will be such a hit that the California-based company will see record operating margins. Pre-orders for the 60-dollar videogame were the highest in the firm's history.

"If you only buy a single game this Hanukkah or Christmas, this is the title to beat," said Scott Steinberg of videogame and gadget website Digital Trends. "It's designed to be as much of a breathlessly cinematic experience as simple run-n-gun outing."

Multiplayer options allow people to share consoles linked to the Internet to play together as characters in the videogame as an alternative to going solo.

Reviewers have praised "MW2" for its game play and vivid graphics.

"Fire it up on a new LCD or plasma HDTV, and it's all but guaranteed to make the neighbors' jaws drop," Steinberg said.

The game is rated for people aged 17 or older and "MW2" has stirred a bit of controversy for depicting realistically brutal terrorist encounters.

Activision's Infinity Ward studio in California created the videogame, with versions tailored to Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, and personal computers.

"Everyone on the team is laser focused on making the most gripping experience we've ever created," said Infinity Ward chief executive Vince Zampella. "No detail is too small and every finishing touch imaginable is underway to make 'Modern Warfare 2' our best ever."

"MW2" picks up in the wake of its predecessor, which reportedly sold 12 million copies.

Players join a global military task force taking on ultranationalist Russian terrorists to save the world. Settings include Russia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Brazil.

The "Call of Duty" franchise boasts overall sales of about 28 million units.

The "MW2" launch in Britain saw tanks and soldiers descend on London's Leicester Square, the first game launch in the square normally home to red-carpet film premieres.

US and British shops opened at midnight to sell the first-person shooter game.

The console version of "Modern Warfare 2" costs around 54 pounds (90 dollars, 60 euros) in Britain, while the PC product retails for around 35 pounds.

Analysts expect "MW2" to breathe new life into a videogame industry that has seen sales figures this year hobbled by dismal economic conditions and a dearth of hot releases.

"Based on everything I'm hearing so far, it's nothing but good news for the industry," NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier told AFP. "The combined launch of MW2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii should mean that November is a great month for the industry."

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