Why comparing game sales to theatrical ticket sales is utter silliness

Here’s a recent trend that I’ve found to be beyond irritating: the constant comparison of video game sales to that of the box office intake of a recent film or the launch of a new novel just because they’re all part of the entertainment family. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II arrived on the 13th of last month (that’d be November for all you peeps who don’t have a calendar handy) and once again, it brought in a ridiculous amount of bling by raking in over $500-million in only its first 24 hours of release.

I’ve got nothing against the CALL OF DUTY series, so if it’s bringing in a bazillion dollars, all the power to it. I’m not a fan of online multiplayer, so I’ll never understand the people who salivate over having more XP than their Xbox Live/PlayStation Network/PC “friends”, but I’ve always thought that the series gave its players an action-packed and overall entertaining single-player campaign (no matter how short they are). With that said, it’s bologna like the following statement from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick that drives me absolutely insane:

With first day sales of over half a billion dollars worldwide, we believe Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row. Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars,” the two most successful movie franchises of all time. Given the challenged macro-economic environment, we remain cautious about the balance of 2012 and 2013.

I read stuff like that and then that’s when I drop the big ol’, “WTF?!” Let’s get serious for a moment here. When a CALL OF DUTY game is released, a new copy is going to set you back $59.99 (in North America). Then there’s even more to take in to consideration, like the fact that Activision also released a Hardened Edition (for $79.99) and a Care Package edition (for the inflated price of $179.99) alongside the regular edition of BLACK OPS II. Factor in that every second or third living person is buying CALL OF DUTY (hello, sarcasm) and yeah, I can’t imagine why it’d make $500-million in 24 hours.

Now let’s talk about… well, HARRY POTTER I suppose, since Kotick conveniently used it as one of his examples. The average ticket price to watch a film in a movie theatre is anywhere from $7.50 to $14.50. If a thousand Pott-heads watched HARRY POTTER for ten dollars a pop, that’d be a grand total of $10,000. If a thousand gamers purchased the regular edition of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, it’d be bringing in close to sixty-grand. Do you see any fair comparison here?

Yes, I realize that the individuals making these statements are using the term “entertainment launch” and that video games, movies and even novels all fall under this category, but it’s so absurd to compare the three when video games are vastly more expensive to purchase. If movie tickets were also sixty bucks, then this could be considered an accomplishment. Heck, I’d even stand up and scream, “In your faces, (J.K.) Rowling and (George) Lucas!” CALL OF DUTY’s been the biggest entertainment launch for the past four years now, so I guess it won’t really take an analyst to tell you what the biggest entertainment launch for the next four years will be, will it?


About the author

NINJA | Ken loves comics, video games, and film -- especially creature features and giant monster flicks. When he's not stalking the shadows as part of the Ninja Clan, he spends his time obsessively collecting ThunderCats, King Kong, and Pacific Rim memorabilia.