Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4 set for a sales shootout

November 13, 2012

While fans who picked up the midnight release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Monday night decide whether the game lives up to the series, Activision investors are likely asking if the new title can live up to the series’ s sales records.

Call of Duty: Black Ops holds the world record for big video game launches, earning over $650 million in five days. The previous record holder? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

But Call of Duty isn’t the only first-person shooter to have a high-profile release this year.

In a blog post Monday, Xbox Live's Major Nelson, a.k.a Xbox Live’s Director of Programming Larry Hryb, announced that Halo 4 has made more than $220 million in global sales in its first 24 hours on sale. That puts it on track to make $300 million in sales for the week, Hryb reported.

Halo 4’s opening day sales in the United States alone, he said, pass the record for the biggest movie opening ever, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

The video game industry could use some good news after a disappointing sales report last quarter. Sales were down 25 percent ahead of the all-important holiday quarter despite some high-performing releases such as “Dishonored” and “Borderlands 2.”

Bringing the big guns, so to speak, with new titles from two of the most popular video game series in the world plus a new hardware release from Nintendo should mean better numbers this quarter.

The new Call of Duty title is supposed to take the series forward — literally, in some cases, since some missions are set in a near-future United States locked in a cold war with China over rare-earth elements. IGN reviewer Anthony Gallegos said the story in this installment of the series is far more interesting than previous titles, even if it falls down on some aspects.

“It occasionally feels like the team might have strayed into territory they’re not quite masters of, but significant tweaks to the multiplayer loadout system, as well as the realization of player agency in the campaign, make this far more than ‘just another Call of Duty.’” he wrote. “This is an evolution.”

The game currently has an aggregated Metacritic rating of 86 of 100, currently tallying 31 positive reviews from critics around the world. While several had praise for the chance Treyarch took with the single-player campaign, most said that the game’s real strength — as you may expect of a Call of Duty game — is in the multiplayer.

In the words of Machinima’s Rob Smith: “Black Ops 2 is a very impressive achievement both from the audacity of its slightly flawed single-player narrative to the massive construction of its multiplayer offerings, and so, Black Ops 2 scores.”

Players have the option to build their own classes in this game by letting them configure 10 slots with their choice of weapons or perks — attributes that may make a player more effective at certain distances or against certain kinds of weapons. That gives players a lot of flexibility to play with, which should give the game even greater replay value.

It also has one or two cool new features meant to boost the social aspects of the game, including the ability to stream their games over YouTube.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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