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Modern Warfare 2” Shatters Records A Week After Release

Above: A screenshot from "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" in one of its Siberian locations.

Last Monday, all around the country people lined up for hours to be the first to buy "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" and, as a result, took part in breaking a record in the entertainment industry.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2", the sequel to the 2007 blockbuster video game, was released Nov. 10 and has generated $550 million in sales in its first five days, more than any movie in that time span. It even pre-sold nearly 2 million copies before its November 10 midnight launch date. And the glowing reviews haven't hurt sales either.

At the Gamestop retailer in the College Area, store manager Mara Salinas said 200 copies of the game were sold the first night, with more than 200 people waiting in a line that stretched around the building.

"We've done midnight releases before, but not like 'Call of Duty,'" said Salinas. "It was fun. It was one of the hugest titles we've ever had."

Salinas said so many people were lined up that the police even showed up to see what was going on.

"They thought we were starting a riot," she said.

The Gamestop in the College Area isn't the only place crowds turned out for "Modern Warfare 2." Sales of the game have made more money than any movie or book in history, according to the game's publisher, Blizzard Activision.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes many features not seen in the original, which includes the use of riot shields.
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Above: "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes many features not seen in the original, which includes the use of riot shields.

Activision reports sales of "Modern Warfare" broke five-day records set by movies like "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" ($394 million) and "The Dark Knight" ($203.8 million) as well as video game sales records set by Grand Theft Auto IV.

This single and multiplayer first-person shooter game puts players into the boots of soldiers in a complex world of double-crosses, invasions and gun battles spanning Siberia, Rio de Janiero and a war-torn Washington, D.C.. It boasts realistic graphics and painstaking detail. Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer wrote the score. It's available on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. One version of the game, sold at $150, even included a pair of working military-inspired night vision goggles in the box. The basic version costs around $60.

The LA Times reported that developing the game cost roughly $40-50 million, around the same cost for your average B-movie. However, the marketing and launch budget was about $200 million, practically unheard of for a video game.

The release of "Modern Warfare 2" not only put stress on retailers, but also pushed the limits of Microsoft's Xbox Live online gaming service. Larry Hryb, Director of Programming for Microsoft's Xbox Live, tweeted last week that over two million users were connected to Xbox Live at one moment, breaking a record for the service.

If there was any indication that video games are no longer a fringe form of media, then this is it. The release of "Modern Warfare 2" shows as CNET tech writer, Don Reisinger said, video games are "just as viable an entertainment platform as movies."

Even though the fall video game season isn't over yet, some analysts say it's unlikely that there will be a release bigger than "Modern Warfare 2."

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