Modern Warfare 3 the biggest entertainment launch in history?
by Jonathon Oake
The statistic has been quoted thousands of times in the media saying that MW3 is the biggest entertainment launch in history, according to the publisher Activision. The key numbers were $400m in the first 24hrs after launch, purely from the US and UK.
Fair enough – I’ve no doubt the numbers are correct, and I certainly can’t think of anything that might have been bigger in the first day of release. But the ‘first 24hrs of release’ is an arbitrary metric, chosen by Activision purely because it favours the video game medium above others.
When Harry Potter 7.B was released it screened back to back on almost half the screens in Australia for weeks – but in order to have a chance of matching MW3, you would have had to drastically expand the distribution channel: build 100s of new cinemas! No home video product is going to match a big video game because of (a) the difference in price per unit (~$25 vs ~$100) and (b) a lot of the excitement has gone from the franchise by the time it reaches home video. Music and books are a better comparison, and to be fair, MW3 smashes both mediums.
A fairer benchmark I think would be life-to-date franchise sales – representing the total amount spent on an entertainment franchise, in the entire world, ever. And if you were to compare theatrical box office and home video sales of Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, I think they’d be easily in front of the CofD franchise. But it may still be a top 10 property, which is a substantial achievement in itself.