Activision Blizzard’s (Nasdaq: ATVI) highly anticipated military shooter “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” launches at midnight tonight, and will be availble for its first day of purchase on Tuesday. With the release of the successor to one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time imminent, gamers are adjusting their plans to suit their new, zombie-filled lives.
According to VentureBeat, an online survey of 10,000 “Black Ops 2” fans conducted by the video game website IGN over the weekend found that about one in four respondents were planning to skip work or school to play “Black Ops 2” immediately after the game launches.
Respondents also said that they expected to play at least 5.5 hours on launch day.
The economic impact of lost time at work (or school) for any major videogame launch has yet to be fully determined. But “Black Ops 2” has already had a significant impact on sales figures for several prominent consumer electronics stores and online retailers.
Another popular videogame website, Gamespot, reported on Monday that “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” has become the most pre-ordered game of all time, “shattering” the previous record Activision set in 2011 with “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” And in a research report from earlier this month, Arvind Bhatia of the market research firm Sterne Agee noted that “specialty retailer GameStop (NYSE: GME) has said that ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ is shaping up to be the biggest ‘Call of Duty’ game ever.”
"We are seeing the highest pre-orders in history,” GameStop president Tony Bartel said in a statement about the game last month. “With its current pace, this Call of Duty is on track to break records and is likely to be our biggest game launch of all time."
Activision Blizzard, meanwhile, announced Monday that the downloadable content (DLC) season pass will now include new bonus content including Nuketown Zombies map, which will be made available to season pass holders in December. While the company revealed last month that its popular “Call of Duty: Elite” service would be turned into a free service with the release of “Black Ops 2,” the Santa Monica, California-based game giant is still trying to offer financial incentives to spur year-long premium subscriptions. Fans who pay $49.99 for the season pass will get four DLC map packs as well as access to the Nuketown Zombies bonus map for a cheaper bundle than purchasing the maps individually ($15 each).
Last year, Activision nudged “Avatar” out of the top spot in the entertainment industry by grossing over $1 billion in sales of “Modern Warfare 3” in just 16 days. With anticipation for “Black Ops 2” reaching a fever pitch, many are now expecting the latest installment in the “Call of Duty” franchise to supplant even this record.
Activision stock rose during trading Monday, jumping to $11.06 per share in early afternoon trading.