Official: Last two Call of Duty games bigger than Finding Nemo, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Ukraine

So you knew that Call of Duty: Black Ops is the best-selling game of this generation (though not of all time, however Activision might spin its numbers). And you knew that Modern Warfare 2 sold a metric shitload before it. But did you know the exact numbers of units shifted? Possibly not, as Activision has often favoured referencing profits over sales figures. But now things have changed. And ye gods, are those numbers terrifyingly large. Like, ogre-on-the-back-of-an-elephant-on-the-strange-giant-mystery-planet-from-Land-of-the-Giants large. In fact the numbers are so large that they're impossible to wrap the human brain around when detailed in mere numerological abstraction, so I've provided some easily comparable real-world comparisons over the jump so that you can get into your head just how soul-shudderingly large these numbers are.

First up, Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 have sold 25 million copies and 22 million respectively. Big numbers indeed. Combined they add up to 47 million. An even bigger number. Quake, puny mortal, before the mighty power of maths. And while it may be cheating slightly to use that combined tally from this point on, I'm going to. Firstly, because its sheer size makes for pretty conclusive evidence of this series' success, and secondly because I've found a few really nifty comparisons that reference similar numbers. Which comparisons have I found? I have found these comparisons:

The Ukraine: The eastern European country has a global coverage of 603, 628 kilometers squared. That's a pretty big country, by mainland European standards. It also has a population of 47 million. The last two Call of Duty games combined have sold 47 million copies. That's one for every man, woman and child in the Ukraine. Oh the LAN-party they could have.

Finding Nemo: As well as causing people to continue to repeatedly yell "Mine!" long after it stopped being funny, Pixar's Finding Nemo holds the record the for best-selling DVD ever in the history of all things ever. It sold 40 million copies. The last two Call of Duty games sold 47 million copies. This is a bigger number than 40 million, by roughly 7 million.

AC/DC: Screeching Australians AC/DC have one of the best-selling albums of all time in Back in Black. It is only bettered by Michael Jackson's 110 million-selling Thriller. Back in Black has sold 49 million copies since 1980. The last two Call of Duty games have sold 47 million copies since 2009. By way of even further comparison, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon has sold 45 million since 1974, and The Beatles' St. Pepper album has sold 32 million since 1967.

I'm going to round this article off right now. I'm going to have to, as I've just noticed that Shania Twain's Come on Over and The Backstreet Boys' Millennium have both sold 40 million since the late '90s. And that Mamma Mia! is the best-selling DVD in the UK ever. And I've also just remembered that Shadows of the Damned has only sold 70 thousand copies worldwide. And if I read any more stats like those I'm going to have to kill the world.

August 04, 2011


  • KFCfoxxy - August 4, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    It's all very sad indeed. You know what we need more of? Foxes. Everywhere. No chickens anywhere.
  • Bamford38 - August 4, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    These are some shocking stats. Its the reason we're gonna have a new call of duty update every year for the rest of time, and truly excellent games like shadows of the damned, deadly premonition, child of eden, vanquish, singularity and alan wake are pretty much guaranteed to never get a sequel. The only solace i can take from this is that im proud to be in the 70 thousand people that value originality, rather that the millions of people that are basically sheep.
  • DannyMB - August 4, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    I remember back in the day when chavs just played fifa. But then they had to move on to CoD didnt they... its all their fault.
  • IceSickle - August 4, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    I'm just glad I didn't contribute to either of those figures.
  • pimlicosound - August 4, 2011 12:42 p.m.

    @Bamford38: "The only solace i can take from this is that im proud to be in the 70 thousand people that value originality, rather that the millions of people that are basically sheep." So you bought Shadows of the Damned because of its originality. Technically it's an original property, but when I look at it I see just a bunch of clichés mashed together with a typical Japanese action game style I know I don't like. I'm quite sure I would not enjoy it. I don't fear originality (I was one of the first to buy Mirror's Edge, etc.) but I just don't see anything in SOTD to entice me to try it. I've bought some of the recent Call of Duty games because they were incredibly polished, fun games with tight gameplay mechanics. Does that make me a sheep? Maybe, but then sheep often flock together because they know where to find good grass and safety, while the lone, lost sheep gets trapped somewhere in barbed wire. (Trust me, my family used to rear sheep and they look a lot more stupid when they run off doing their own thing than when they flock together. But maybe I'm stretching the analogy... :D )
  • Fredeur - August 4, 2011 12:54 p.m.

    I am pretty proud of myself, i have bought Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, so it's feel like i am almost an ukrainian now. Even better, i have bought Back In Black three times.
  • joemegson94 - August 4, 2011 12:57 p.m.

    Only one guy in AC/DC is Australian. Also, those statistics about Mamma Mia! and Shania Twain made me extremely depressed.
  • Zepaw - August 4, 2011 1:04 p.m.

    I get so tired of the anything popular sucks crowd. I am not playing CoD because I enjoy it and have fun, I am a mindless sheep who does what big companies tell me to.
  • cj12297 - August 4, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    Right now around the world, hipsters are crying.
  • DrFred79 - August 4, 2011 1:09 p.m.

    The CoD buying public shouldn't be voting... At least the majority of them still can't =P
  • Latnok - August 4, 2011 1:10 p.m.

    I just want to say, it's not the best selling game but the most selling game :). Saying otherwise implies it's better than other games when it clearly isn't. It's not even game of the year worthy imo.
  • jackthemenace - August 4, 2011 1:14 p.m.

    Be right back, I'm just off to KILL MYSELF. And by "be right back", I mean, "I'll never be back, I'll be dead."
  • JimmyNic - August 4, 2011 1:14 p.m.

    I'd bet the majority of those who bought MW2 bought Black Ops. Meaning the amount of CoD fans is probably around 23 million. Which means they aren't more popular than the Beatles. Just sayin.
  • CitizenWolfie - August 4, 2011 1:19 p.m.

    If only Nintendo had Activision's marketing team maybe the 3DS wouldn't be doing so bad right now *trollface* I like CoD despite being neither a sheep, a chav nor 8 years old. Sure, I love Shadow of the Colossus and Limbo and all those other arty games its cool to talk about but sometimes I just want to blow shit up. I bet if Bioshock was selling as well and being updated every year people would be saying the same thing. Haters gonna hate as they say.
  • Ultrabonz - August 4, 2011 1:33 p.m.

    I wonder where all this money goes. Some people must be incredibly rich by now.
  • Timtimhuthut - August 4, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    Someone said that the gameplay was balanced. I don't remember who, nor do i care. But they obviously have never used an AUG Hbar. With a silencer and stopping power, it's a 3 shot kill in MW2. There's always a few guns that are much better than other ones. For example: A very skilled player using a vector, could (and i'm only guessing) beat a slightly above average skilled player using a scar-h, half of the time. With the same perks and whatnot. I fail to see the balance and polish in this series.
  • mothbanquet - August 4, 2011 1:40 p.m.

    I bought both games and so count myself among that staggeringly large number. The reason for that number, however, is not so staggering. Simply put, they are good games and I (along with 46,999,999 others) are happy enough paying good money for them. They're not the very best games by a long stretch, in fact I found MW2 to be a huge disappointment compared to its predecessor and so swore off MW3 until the price comes down, but nevertheless they're still good ones. Point is, the only reason why the figures are that high is because the games deserve it. Calling people who play them 'sheep' is a gross generalization (I play anything and everything, and have done since the NES days) and such an attitude towards CoD and Activision is fast becoming a cliche in itself. Yes, the regular updates do grate, which was why I went off Guitar Hero entirely when World Tour came around and the drop in quality of that product spoke for itself when Activision dropped it. The annual CoD releases, however, have held little resemblence to one another in both plot and settings. WaW was a stunning return to WWII, Black Ops was an engaging Cold War story and the MW's couldn't be more different to either of those two. Aside from some trifling issues with the Treyarch developed games, I enjoyed them and as you can see from the universally favourable review scores, so did everyone else. If the success of a decent game offends you so then don't play it and certainly don't lambast the people who do. Instead just be thankful that your beloved pastime is able to outclass every other form of artistic media. I know I'd rather buy a CoD game than a Backstreet Boys album.
  • Dafiddy - August 4, 2011 1:49 p.m.

    The games were good. Fact. (note the score to the right of this page for MW2). Focus your hate on Activision who released Black Ops knowing the multiplayer was broken (it's obvious they knew because they claimed multiplayer was a free gift to get around any legal obligations they may have had) and even when scores of players complained they did nothing for weeks and just blamed it on a poor NAT type or gave instructions on port forwarding.... GO F*** YOURSELF!!! I would love to see reviewers retrospectively dropping scores on games with these problems until the situation is fixed.
  • maxmorrow - August 4, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    I anxiously await the press release stating that Call of Duty is now bigger than Jesus.
  • CoryRX8 - August 4, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    Modern Warfare 2 deserved all of those sales. It's an incredibly polished and well-balanced game in both single player and multiplayer. It has its issues (Timtimhuthut pointed one out) and isn't perfect, but it's still an incredible game. Black Ops, however, really just rode MW2's coattails. I bought the game on reputation alone before I read the reviews, and was incredibly disappointed. Shadows of the Damned and Vanquish are both much more fun to play than Black Ops could ever hope to be, but unfortunately, they don't have name recognition going for them.

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