Latest 'Call of Duty' could be most lucrative video game ever

Wayne Bridge attends the launch party for new video game Call Of Duty: Black Ops held at Battersea Power Station on Nov. 8, 2010 in London, England.

Steve Chiotakis: Today's a big day in the entertainment world. Not a new movie -- or TV show. Not even a Kardashian wedding.

Instead, video game publisher Activision releases Modern Warfare 3, the latest in the 'Call of Duty' series.

Marketplace's Steve Henn reports on how big it could really be.


Steve Henn: The video game series "Call of Duty" is one of the highest grossing entertainment franchises of all time. The latest version, "Modern Warfare 3," could outearn the movie "Titanic." That's the movie that broke the billion-dollar barrier.

"Call of Duty" clip: At 6:22, attacks were triggered across Europe. Targets were key military and intelligence organizations.

Your job in the game is to help save western civilization.

"Call of Duty" clip: The symbols you have always looked to for strength are smoldering in ruin.

These games look real, and you can play with friends on a dedicated online social network called Call of Duty Elite. Fans who buy the game will drop at least $60, and on average will spend over 100 hours playing.

Here's Eric Hirshberg, the CEO of Activision, at a conference in Cologne.

Eric Hirshberg: We as an industry are creating some of the most powerful and beloved pop cultural images and experiences of a generation.

They are selling the same stories again and again and again.

John Davison: This is Call of Duty 8, I believe.

John Davison is a vice president at Game Spot. He says the industry is addicted to sequels.

Davison: There are a number of games which when you sort of tot up the number of entries in the franchise that there have been, there are some in double digits now.

But Davison says when asking legions of fans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, it's dangerous to fall into a creative rut.

Davison: And because "Call of Duty" is in its eighth iteration, there was definitely some -- let's call it malaise.

Reviews have been a bit tepid. For now though, this formula is working for fans -- pre-orders for Modern Warfare 3 have been huge.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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