Black Ops II pulls in $500 million in first 24 hours

Activision's cash machine is still running smooth.

In what's becoming a November tradition, the latest Call of Duty game is once again the biggest entertainment launch of the year. Activision announced Friday that Black Ops II earned over $500 million in its first 24 hours.

"With first day sales of over half a billion dollars worldwide, we believe Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row," said Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. "Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for 'Harry Potter' and 'Star Wars,' the two most successful movie franchises of all time."

The $500 million mark exceeds the launch day haul of last year's record-setter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which raked in $400 million. Comparatively, the top-earning movie this year, The Avengers, took in $200 million in its opening weekend.

Black Ops has become a very solid performing part of the Call of Duty franchise. The 2010 installment of the game sold an estimated 25 million units, according to Wedbush. That's about 2 million more than last year's Modern Warfare 3.

And, even better for Activision, its momentum is growing. The original Black Ops took six months to hit the $1 billion sales mark. Black Ops II will likely hit that before the end of the year.

Pre-orders for Blacks Ops II, which is the first game in the franchise to feature a future setting, set an all-time high for the company. Of course, given that the previous three installments of the game previously held the launch record, this achievement isn't exactly a shocking one.

Black Ops II is the second game this month to set the entertainment launch day mark for 2012. Microsoft held that bragging right for a brief time with the launch of Halo 4, which took in $220 million in its first 24 hours. (Life to date sales of that franchise, by the way, stand at just under $3.4 billion — a number Call of Duty has long since eclipsed.)

There's one other tradition that goes with Activision's usual sales crowing: The publisher immediately warns people that those sales could tank any minute.

"Given the challenged macro-economic environment, we remain cautious about the balance of 2012 and 2013," said Kotick.

This is mainly in keeping with the company's conservative fiscal outlook, though it's pretty ludicrous when you think about it, especially since just a few days ago Activision predicted that Black Ops II would be the best-selling video game of all time.

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