In each of the past four years, Activision has followed Call of Duty's release date with a triumphal announcement that the latest edition of the game was "the biggest entertainment launch" of the year or in history, comparing it to blockbuster movie franchises since there was no other game to come close. They didn't say that this time.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, in a statement, settled for calling Call of Duty "by far the largest console franchise of this generation", which it probably is. As far as what might be the biggest entertainment launch of the year, Grand Theft Auto V is a good guess.
GTA's publisher boasted of worldwide sales surpassing $US1 billion "during its first three days on sale," calling that figure an estimate. Call of Duty also brags of a $US1 billion figure but it's not as grand; it's $US1 billion in inventory "sold in" to retailers, which only means that stores worldwide ordered up $US1 billion worth of product from the publisher. That's not $US1 billion paid by customers.
Last year, Activision raked in an estimated $US500 million in first-day sales — still a record above other Call of Duty launches garnering between $US300 and $US400 million on day one. The latest statement didn't estimate what day one sales for Ghosts were.
The other angle could be that Call of Duty: Ghosts' launch is split by the new console launches coming, even if it's a week (or two) from Friday. People may be waiting for that before slapping down the $US60 on CoD. So Activision might come back to us after November 22 to say, hey, it was the biggest entertainment launch of the year. Or in history. Or both.