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Modern Warfare 2 Sales Shoot Down Concerns About Activision’s Future Performance

$310 million in sales in 24 hours. That’s how much demand there was for Activision’s first-person shooter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The game launched Tuesday, and though official NPD stats aren’t out yet, the company estimates that it sold 4.7 million units on its first day in the U.S. and U.K. alone.

It’s just the latest blockbuster game debut: Last year Take-Two (NSDQ: TTWO) broke first-day sales records for the entire entertainment industry with GTA: IV, which also sold $310 million, and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) started the trend with Halo 3, which sold $170 million in 2007 — beating out that year’s best-selling movie, Spider-man 3 — on its first day.

A research note from Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian puts the game’s launch in context: “The launch of Modern Warfare 2 will quickly claim a spot among the top 10 entertainment properties of all time — generating $1 billion+ in retail sales worldwide over the first several months post release, in the same category with Titanic and Thriller, while generating higher margins and return on capital.”

Sebastian also suggests that the strong launch will assuage investor concerns about Activision’s stock performance over the next three quarters, since the franchise’s longevity should make up for the weakness in music game sales, the company’s struggle to get World of Warcraft back up and running in China.

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