The video game went on sale all over the world on Tuesday, but Activision provided figures Thursday only for North America and Britain. The company estimates that it sold about 4.7 million copies of the game in the first 24 hours in those markets, making it the biggest-selling launch in the history of entertainment.
The latest installment in the "Call of Duty" action franchise was expected to at least match last year's "Grand Theft Auto IV," which was the most successful video game release in history and at the time may have been the top entertainment launch ever.
That game, from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., had sold 3.6 million units on its opening day, worth $310 million worldwide. "Call of Duty" made that much in just North America and Britain.
The launch of "Call of Duty" also easily brought in more than last year's record $155 million opening weekend for the Batman movie "The Dark Knight."
Like the previous five "Call of Duty" games, which are all rated "M" for mature (not for kids under 17), this one lets players shoot their way through a complex series of scenes. The game's developer, Infinity Ward, spent two years creating realistic graphics that are amplified in many players' homes by big-screen, high-definition TVs sets and powerful speakers.
Players can fight one another, whether they're at the same game console or in separate locations and connected online. Or a player can dive in alone and get swept into the game, which includes jarring depictions of war and an intricate story of good versus evil.
The game sells for $60 and plays on Windows-based computers, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.
Shares of Activision, which is based in Santa Monica, rose 6 cents to close Thursday at $11.44.