Activision announced today that Call of Duty 2 Modern Warfare has generated more than $1 Billion in worldwide retail sales since it launched in November. After doing $550 Million in sales during its opening weekend and becoming the most successful entertainment property in its opening weekend, the title has shown that games can generate more revenue than movies. While the audience is clearly above 10 Million, the question remains as to how large the ultimate audience is.
COD2MW will likely break the $1.5 Billion mark in 2010 and raise the bar of what is expected from the industry’s largest franchises. The potential audience for games is still much smaller than movies. We likely have 5-10% of the audience of movies at the theater. With simple math, a billion dollar movie is going to reach 5-7 times the audience of a game in its first run, just because of the difference in price.
Add to this the fact that games don’t have secondary releases (DVD, Pay-Per-View, Cable, Broadcast, Airline) and you start to realize that we may say we’re bigger than movies, but we’re actually less than half the size of movies in terms of revenues and audience. We’re making great strides in becoming mainstream, but we still have a long way to go.
The true test will be when Hollywood puts out a film and they compare it to a game launch weekend. Then we’ll be bigger than movies.