Activision says Black Ops first-day sales a record

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Activision Blizzard Inc said Thursday it sold about 5.6 million copies of “Call of Duty: Black Ops” for $360 million on its first day, setting a new record for the video game industry.

Analysts said the strong day one performance was largely expected given the sizeable number of preorders, and Activision shares were up slightly in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

“Black Ops,” a gritty military-themed shooter game that is the seventh installment of the popular “Call of Duty” franchise, has received good initial reviews. The game went on sale on Tuesday in the U.S. and Britain in one the most highly anticipated game debuts of the year.

“We started to get some pretty positive vibes when the ratings came out Tuesday,” said Sterne, Agee & Leach analyst Arvind Bhatia.

“I wouldn’t say this is complete surprise but it is a reconfirmation of our expectation that this game can at least do the same numbers as last year,” he said.

Last year, one-day global sales of the last version of the game, “Modern Warfare 2,” were 4.7 million units in the United States and the United Kingdom.

That title sold more than 15 million units in the holiday quarter, and went on to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide, making it a blockbuster by any definition.

Last week, Activision Blizzard said after its earnings release that it did not expect “Black Ops,” to outperform “Modern Warfare 2.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday that it was still too early to revisit that guidance, despite the strong early sales of “Black Ops”.

“It’s been a staggering first day performance, but ‘Modern Warfare 2’ was one of the best-selling games of all time. We’re off to a great start, I would say that the momentum is definitely in our favor right now,” Kotick said.

Wall Street expects Activision’s revenue to approach $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter.

The company will also release “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm” in December, the latest update to the multiplayer online game that boasts 12 million subscribers.

Shares traded up 0.3 percent at $11.86.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bernard Orr