Does Call of Duty: Black Ops redefine 'blockbuster'?

Few companies enjoy paydays quite like Activision's. In November, the video-game publisher released Call of Duty: Black Ops, a cold-war military thriller that not only became the most lucrative game launch ever, but also made more money in 24 hours than any book, movie, or album in entertainment history.


1. The new record

Rich Clabaugh

According to Activision, Black Ops raked in $360 million in its first day – five times more than the biggest Hollywood première and 15 times more than the fastest selling CDs.

"Even insiders were taken aback by just how big the Black Ops launch really was," says Scott Steinberg, head of the game-consulting firm TechSavvy. "You don't see the same level of [lavishness] for game studios as Hollywood stars, but the world is voting with their wallets and with their time."

Still, video games have a huge advantage in breaking records. An average copy of Black Ops costs $60 and collector's editions sold for $150. Even high-definition Blu-ray movies often top out at $25.

So how do video games compare to more traditional forms of entertainment? They suck up more dollars, but do they attract more fans? Because of imperfect bookkeeping and apples-to-oranges comparisons, 24-hours sales is actually one of the fairest available statistics to judge. So, click the arrow for a breakdown, industry by industry.

Related – Call of Duty: Black Ops review roundup

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