Black Ops II: The Launchening
Can first-day sales keep climbing?
With Call of Duty's rise in fortunes, the Call of Duty launch event has become a bombastic November ritual - like Fireworks Night but much, much louder, as evidenced by this video in which Mike is bellowed at by legendary football pundit Chris Kamara.
"Never in a million years did I think someone would ask me to commentate on a computer game, but it was great," says Kamara, fresh from a turn at CoD-casting on the event stage.
That launch was accompanied by an unprecedented 16,000 retailers around the world staying open to sell Black Ops II to midnight queuers, says Activision. The publisher must be hoping to match that with unprecedented first-day sales. But how long can Call of Duty go on outdoing itself?
Last November's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 sold 6.5 million copies in the US and UK in its first 24 hours, breaking the record for an entertainment launch. That same record was broken the year before by the original Black Ops, and the year before that by Modern Warfare 2.
Given the broadly positive reviews, this won't be the year fans abandon the series for losing its way. Even so, there must come a saturation point - a plateau for the number of units that can be shifted in the short 24 hours after launch.
Is it this year? Maybe not, with pre-orders at an all-time high. After that, lifetime sales are a different matter; Modern Warfare 3 failed to outstrip Black Ops sales in the long term, despite that bumper first day.
Call of Duty still has the power to engage people unfussed by all other games, however, and that power shouldn't be underestimated. Comedian Jack Whitehall is one such gamer, telling Mike how he's committed to just Call of Duty (and FIFA) at the same Black Ops II launch event. He likes the new Zombies mode.
"You can get set on fire while you're playing, that's really annoying," says Whitehall. "Other than that, it's good."