Several years ago, Microsoft's Halo was the first game to reach the 100 million US dollar sale on the opening weekend. Today, the video games are challenging and beating blockbuster movies on their opening days. Case in point – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I.
While there is a difference in how the movie industry counts their revenue compared to the video games industry, we can draw some interesting comparisons.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I is the second most watched movie launch of 2011, earning 291 million dollars in the first weekend globally out of which 139.5 million came from USA. This is the fifth-best opening in the USA of all times, and 10th on a global scale. Best opening of all times was recorded by Batman: The Dark Knight with 483 million on the opening weekend out of which 158 million came out of US.
Yet, these majestic openings pale in comparison to popular video games. While the mainstream media was drooling over Twilight, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 shipped 10 million units for the launch and sold seven million units during the first weekend sale – earning more than 775 million US dollars. Battlefield 3 sold five million copies on the first weekend of sales, and 10 million copies in just 10 days, earning 300 million dollars on the opening weekend and over 610 million dollars in those first 10 days.
The mind-numbing numbers don't stop. Bethesda Softworks announced that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim sold in 3.5 million copies on the opening weekend, and that 7.5 million units were shipped in the first week of sales. Those 3.5 million units brought home 210 million dollars, while the overall launch revenue is worth just a bit below half a billion dollars ($460M). Bear in mind that Bethesda increased the launch volume by 50%, as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas shipped in five million copies each. Next year, we expect to see Bethesda shipping 10 million units at launch and becoming the heavy lifter as Activision and EA.
In terms of media exposure versus revenue , video games are the business to be – no hundred-million dollar marketing commitment is needed, and yet the sales exceed the most anticipated movie titles of the year. It is just a matter of time before gaming related companies start publishing revenue figures in a business way with dollar figures, instead of mentioning "millions of units".
Activision Blizzard, EA and ZeniMax Media (owner of Bethesda) are all laughing their way to the bank, especially when the marketing budgets for The Dark Knight or Twilight are compared to Call of Duty Battlefield or The Elder Scrolls Series.
Did we mention World of Warcraft franchise is the first video game franchise to pass the four billion dollar mark and is bound to pass the five billion dollar mark by the end of this year? Not bad for a title which is available on only one platform and that's the PC.