'World of Warcraft' Sets PC Game Sales Record

Close on the heels of its "Call of Duty: Black Ops" runaway success, Activision Blizzard's "World of Warcraft: Cataclysm" has sold more than 3.3 million copies in the first 24 hours.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

December 13, 2010

3 Min Read

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The latest iteration of "World of Warcraft" has set a sales record for online PC games, giving publisher Activision Blizzard its second record breaker in as many months.

More than 3.3 million copies of "World of Warcraft: Cataclysm" were sold in the first 24 hours of its Dec. 7 release, easily surpassing the previous record holder "World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King," the predecessor to the latest game. Blizzard released the latter game in November 2008.

"Cataclysm" marks back-to-back hits for Blizzard. The company launched in November the video game "Call of Duty: Black Ops" and sold 5.6 million copies in the first 24 hours, which amounted to $360 million in sales. "Call of Duty" is for video-game consoles, such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, as well as for PCs and Macs. "Cataclysm" is only available on computers.

The latter game was released Dec. 7 in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. More than 10,000 stores opened at midnight and more than 15,000 players attended launch events in the countries, Blizzard says. "World of Warcraft" has more than 12 million subscribers globally.

With "Cataclysm," Blizzard has changed the look of the game and the way it is played, as the result of an Azeroth-destroying dragon called DeathWing. Azeroth is the name of the world that's the game's stage. "We had to bring Azeroth to the brink of destruction in 'Cataclysm,' but the result was our best expansion yet," Mike Morhaime, chief executive and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, said in a statement released Monday. Blizzard Entertainment is the Activision Blizzard subsidiary that released "Cataclysm," as well as "Black Ops."

Besides setting a first-day sales record, "Black Ops" set a five-day record of $650 million in gross sales worldwide. The game easily beat the previous record holder "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," which took in $550 million. "Modern Warfare 2" was the previous record holder of day-one video game sales.

After a year of mostly lagging sales, the video-game industry has been on a roll in the last quarter with the release of motion-sensing add-on devices for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Kinect and Move, respectively, have been major sales drivers for the industry, along with the release of "Black Ops." While the industry was once headed for a year-to-year decline in sales, it is now expected to end 2010 with store sales of between $18.8 billion and $19.6 billion, The NPD Group says. The higher end of the range would essentially be flat to last year.


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