[Updated below with Activision’s internal day one sales estimates of 4.7 million units]
After what is arguably the largest ever videogame release, there’s been a bit of confusion over the sales numbers that Activision and Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been racking up in the UK and worldwide.
According to the UK’s Chart Track, as well as the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), Modern Warfare 2 sold an incredible 1.23 million units in the UK alone, grossing $77.85 million (£47 million): on day one!
Director general of the ELSPA, Michael Rowlinson commented on the numbers: “These first day sales figures are astonishing and clear evidence that videogames are now mainstream in the UK. Our form of interactive entertainment has completely come of age.”
This figure doubles that of the previous UK ‘day one’ sales record holder, Grand Theft Auto IV, which saw 631 000 units sold on the first day of availability in April 2008, and grossed roughly $44.88 million (£27.2 million).
This announcement was followed up by data from Broadpoint AmTech analyst, Ben Schachter, who approximated the worldwide day one sales figures of Modern Warfare 2 (taking the UK’s sales numbers into consideration) to be in the region of 7 million units on day one, using the following logic to work out first week sales of the title:
“With GTA IV selling-through 6mm units worldwide in its first week,” said Schachter, “that suggests week one of Modern Warfare 2 worldwide sell-through could approximate ~11.7mm.
“While 2x the week one tally for GTA IV may seem aggressive, the bottom line is that we believe current consensus estimates of around 12mm for the December quarter may end up being conservative.”
Everybody’s favourite videogame market analyst, Michael ‘The Pacman’ Pachter from Wedbush Morgan, however, has refuted these claims, and by his own calculations and logic, has said that worldwide day one sales figures for Modern Warfare 2 are closer to 4 million units:
“7 million is: a very reasonable estimate, if we accept that the UK figure is accurate,” said Pachter. “My guess is that it’s not. I don’t know how anyone could aggregate UK sales that fast. I’d say it’s far more likely that the game sold no more than 5 million on day 1 (my bias is 4 million), and that it won’t hit 7 million until the end of the weekend.
“However, you can’t argue with ‘facts’ such as Chart Track reports of first day sales,” Pachter continued. “I have a feeling that the figure includes all preorders, but not necessarily those units actually picked up on day 1.”
After that volley from Pachter, Chart Track director, Dorian Bloch, fired back at Pachter’s reasoning, saying that “UK retailers have been at the forefront of electronic data capture for decades, which in turn allows us to capture daily sales from 99 per cent of retailers on our panel.
“Every retailer on our panel supplies Electronic Point of Sale data: That’s over 6000 retail outlets plus all the e-tailers ‒ currently 25 different store fronts.”
Bloch continued on to say how this point of sale data is immediately transferred to Chart Track, allowing them to instantly track sales figures as customers buy their goods.
Bloch has confirmed that full sales data for Modern Warfare 2 in the UK will be released after the stat tracker’s weekly sales chart is compiled and released next week, so that this whole sales debacle can be sorted in the coming days.
According to Activision’s internal sales estimates, Modern Warfare 2 has sold 4.7 million units worldwide on day one, grossing an estimated $310 million, breaking sales records across all forms of entertainment.
In a statement, Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith wrote: “The Call of Duty franchise has become a cultural phenomenon showing the power of video games as an entertainment medium.
“The shattering of these entertainment records is a testament to the compelling, cinematic and uniquely engaging experience that the Call of Duty brand delivers. Modern Warfare 2 has taken interactive experience to unprecedented heights setting a new standard for entertainment.”
[End of Update]