Sanity Saturday: Call of Duty Edition

Throughout the GeekWorld this week has been a near rapture over the sales performance of the latest tactical shoot’m up, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Most of it has been over the sales performance, leading many a gamer to hold their braced Carpal Tunnel-ridden arms in the air in victory saying how video games are dominating film as an entertainment media. I would like to call their bluff.

Many of the comparisons are drawn from movie opening weekends. Call of Duty netted around $310 million in its first day in the US and UK. A lot of geek articles have compared it to The Dark Knight, one of the most profitable movies of last year, in saying it took them a week to get to $310 million. Well, that part is true. The problem is, movie theatres do not charge $60 a pop for an admission ticket.

Put in perspective, Call of Duty sold 5.17 million units. Ok, that’s pretty good. Let’s look at the Dark Knight. It grossed $67,165,092 on its opening day. Paltry compared to Call of Duty right? Well, not really. Accepting that ticket prices are around $8 (outside major metro areas) and you have 8,395,636 seeing that movie, more if you average it out to folks that went to see a matinee (which would lower the ticket price).

The Dark Knight ultimately made around $1 billion ($533 mil domestic / $468.5 mil foreign). Please, let’s not compare the limited audience of the video game world to the more worldwide spread of film. Earning millions of does not equal quality. Even that horrible live action version of GI Joe made $300 million at the box office.

An additional, more serious note, if those in geekdom are still reading this: Why are the games still so expensive? The cheapest of the new CoD is $50 for the Wii (really, CoD on the Wii? How?) and goes up to $80 “Hardened” Edition and even a night vision goggle set for $167.


  1. Chris

    I can’t disagree with anything you said, but I’d like to address your additional note about the price of games. Games in general have either gone down in price or stayed nearly the same for decades now. That means in real terms (with inflation) the price has gone down, while at the same time the cost of making a game has skyrocketed. It can cost 10s of millions of dollars to produce a AAA title these days.

  2. Jordan

    That would make sense. I guess it would have to equal out for the purchaser in terms of replay value (such as the more prevalent networking capabilities these days). It would be nice to see numbers on how much it cost to produce and maintain a game like CoD: MW 2. I’m not sure how the money flows downstream for people playing on something like Xbox Live (and whatever the PS3 equivalent is).

  3. Ian

    There is no PS3 equivalent. PS3 online play is free!

  4. Jordan

    Oh, that’s cool. I always thought the whole Xbox Live thing a bit restrictive.

    Netflix is telling me that you can stream their videos to PS3s now as well. Guess it’s good they dropped their prices.

  5. Chris

    I highly doubt any money flows downstream from XBox Live to the game publishers. The reason you pay (or so the story goes) is that Microsoft develops and maintains a stable and consistent multiplayer environment that all publishers can easily tie into. Maintaining the system costs Microsoft money, so you pay to use it.

  6. Jordan

    That’s kind of what I figured. Is there much support post-shipment for games like CoD? I’ve only played as a guest of someone else so don’t know if they actively upgrade anything for online play.

    Anyways, if it makes gamers feel any better, they are on route to beat Twilight in gross. After the “Twi-tards” took over Comic Con I guess that is some justice.

  7. Ian

    I don’t know about for XBox Live, but on the PS3, when a game needs updating, it automatically does it when you load the game. I have only had this happen on a few occasions. Additionally, expansion material for games is always being sold in the PS Store. For instance, I recently purchased The White Stripes song pack for Rock Band. I would imagine for CoD, they add new maps, or weapons, or skins for your characters. Perhaps they might add new missions too. I don’t know, I haven’t played a shooter in a few years.