'Call of Duty' sets video game launch record

4.7 million copies of 'Modern Warfare 2' sold on first day

NEW YORK -- Activision Blizzard said it sold 4.7 million copies of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," or $310 million in sales, on its first day, setting a record for the video game industry.

The shooting game went on sale Tuesday in the most highly anticipated debut of the year. Fans had lined up for hours outside retail stores like GameStop in advance of the midnight release.

Analysts projected unit sales of 11 million-13 million by the end of 2009, saying "Call of Duty" would defy the weak economy because it appeals to hard-core gamers willing to shell out $60 for the title. Estimates for launch-day sales ranged from $300 million-$340 million.

The previous record for the biggest video game launch was last year's "Grand Theft Auto IV" from Take-Two Interactive Software, which sold 3.6 million units, or $310 million on the first day.

The latest "Call of Duty" is the sixth installment in the franchise and its audience is primarily younger men, the demographic that makes up the core of the estimated $50 billion global gaming industry.

The game faces little competition from other big-name titles as Activision's rivals have either pushed up release dates or delayed them into next year.

Video game industry revenue in the United States, the world's largest market, is down 13% this year, according to industry tracker NPD.

Shares of Santa Monica-based Activision have gained more than 30% this year.