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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Just Set A New Record

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare just broke a record: its first year of sales was the highest in the franchise's history. 

Activision Blizzard shared the jaw-dropping news in its third quarter financial report for 2020, which showed better-than-expected results for the period that ended on Sept. 30. The report noted that 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone saw more than three times as many monthly active users as a year ago, with PC users growing over ten-fold year-over-year and hours played coming in at seven times higher year-over-year. Call of Duty console and PC microtransactions were four times higher than a year ago, as well. 

"We again saw substantial year-over-year growth in premium game sales as Warzone players chose to upgrade to the full Call of Duty experience," communicated Activision. "Modern Warfare first-year premium sales are the highest in Call of Duty's history, with two-thirds of units sold digitally."

Activision Blizzard chief executive officer Bobby Kotick revealed the company is raising its outlook for 2020 and is "enthusiastic" about growth in 2021. The sunny forecast for the publisher's fortunes is no surprise, as it also reported a great second quarter with $1.93 billion in net revenue. This quarter, its income has increased slightly to $1.95 billion, which it compares to $1.28 billion for the same quarter last year.

There doesn't appear to be any one reason for the company's success, but other video game giants in the industry have seen an increase in subscriptions, engagement numbers, and sales as a result of COVID-19. However, the continuation of the pandemic may also negatively affect coffers if it stalls manufacturing or increases global economic weakness.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is no stranger to breaking records. It netted a cool $600 million in the first three days of its release in August 2019, making it the No. 1 top-selling Call of Duty PC launch ever and giving it the highest digital pre-orders and highest three-day digital sales ever on the PlayStation 4. At the time, Activision president Rob Kostich said in a press release: "Through the first three days, Modern Warfare has more total players and total hours played than any Call of Duty opening release in the last six years. More importantly, our players are having a great time playing."

Modern Warfare has been able to keep the top spot, according to Activision. In December 2019, the company said in a press release, "Modern Warfare has outpaced all previous Call of Duty multiplayer experiences of this generation in hours played, hours per player and average daily players on its way to becoming the most played Call of Duty multiplayer in the first 50 days since launch in six years." By that point, the game had made more than $1 billion worldwide and surpassed 500 million multiplayer hours played since release. 

The popularity of the series does not seem like it will slow down anytime soon. After all, Activision is looking forward to the imminent release of Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War on Nov. 13. It said in its report that more players are being engaged in public testing for this release than for last year's title. That game still has two weeks before it launches to the general public, and it's already following in Modern Warfare's footsteps and breaking records. Activision said in a late September tweet, "Thanks to our players for making last week's #BlackOpsColdWar Alpha the most downloaded PS4 alpha or beta in Call of Duty history."

That doesn't mean Activision is free of controversy, though. It is considered by many industry-watchers to be overly profit-focused, prioritizing pumping out new titles quickly at the expense of quality. Activision-published games, including Call of Duty titles, have often suffered from bugs, glitches, and cheating that mar the overall experience. Recently, fans were upset by the announced year-long PlayStation exclusivity of Zombie Onslaught mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War. Additionally, Activision has been criticized for laying off employees even in the face of its massive success — and accused of overpaying its CEO to boot.