Modern Warfare 2, the sixth installment of the hugely popular Call of Duty computer game sold more than 4.7 million copies on the first day of its release earning £186m in the US and Britain. Computer gaming is now a giant industry and Brighton & Hove could be a world player.
With the runaway success of the entire Call of Duty franchise first released in 2003, gaming is now as big a financial force in the entertainment industry as music and movies and all indications are that the latter will be eclipsed by gaming in the near future.
Record opening weekend takings for a movie stand at £94m earned by the Batman film, The Dark Knight; this figure is dwarfed by the first day of sales of the £54 computer game, which cost about £10 more than the usual pricing for such games.
The previous record for sales of a computer game was held by Grand Theft Auto IV, which sold 631,000 copies last year.
Mike Griffith - chief executive of Activision which publishes Call of Duty said: “It’s a cultural phenomenon, showing the power of video games as an entertainment medium ..... a testament to the compelling, cinematic and uniquely engaging experience that this franchise delivers.” Michael Rawlinson, director general of the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers’ Association, which represents the games industry, says it shows gaming has “come of age” and is now considered a mainstream activity in the UK.
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The release of the lastest Call of Duty game has been spectacular not just because of its undoubted commercial success. Despite being rated "for 17 years and older", the high-quality graphics mean that scenes of violence and gore are spectacularly realistic which has stimulated the ongoing debate about the effect of video games on the young. A debate on video game violence, involving key industry fugures, took place in San Francisco on 11th November and questions have been asked in the House of Commons.
Whatever your view, the economic pulling power of games is now undisputed. Due in large part to the marketing efforts of Wired Sussex, Brighton & Hove has attracted a number of gaming companies and the editor of the influential industry magazine Develop is on record as saying that the city could be a global player.
The city and the UK face stiff competition from Canada where the industry is supported by government subsidies and tax breaks but this is definitely a sector that we should nurture and support.
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