Call of Duty set to become a $1bn franchise

Not yet sick of Modern Warfare 2 sales numbers? Good, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian has more.

He reckons that the Call of Duty franchise will in 2009 break the $1bn worldwide sales revenue, putting it in the same league as other Activision Blizzard properties World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero – and other big entertainment properties like Michael Jackson’s Thriller album and James Cameron’s Titanic movie.

"The launch of Modern Warfare 2 will quickly claim a spot among the top 10 entertainment properties of all time — generating over $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," he has said in his latest note to investors.

He adds that MW2 is in fact selling against his estimates for the game, and will have sold close to 9m by the end of the launch week – double the already-impressive day one sales of 4.7m in North America and the UK.

The game will have sold 12.5m copies by the end of the calendar year, Sebastian now says.

The analyst also says the arrival of Modern Warfare 2 reinforces that Activision’s big $1bn dollar franchises can fight against market uncertainty

He said: "We believe recent concerns over music game sales, weakness on Nintendo platforms, the WoW transition in China and insider share sales were somewhat magnified during a period of limited product momentum, but may appear less relevant moving into 2010."

He added: "World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are billion-dollar properties now in their prime, one with an enviable online subscription model, and the other taking the helm as the most popular cross-platform console game.

"Interestingly, consumers continue to show a willingness to pay for interactive entertainment through both the retail and Internet channels, while traditional forms of media continue to struggle transitioning to new distribution models."

Sebastian has placed a ‘buy’ recommendation on Activision stock for those looking to invest.

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