Activision’s $500 Million ‘Destiny’ Launch Shows Power of Online Video

One of the biggest new franchise releases in history

With gaming giants Activision (Call of Duty franchise) and Bungie (Halo franchise) behind it, yesterday's release of Destiny was bound to be a big pre-order event. But the game exceeded expectations, with more than $500 million already tallied for orders by stores, to easily become one of the largest wholesale launches of a new game franchise in history.

Indeed, Activision's $500 million investment in marketing the game seems to already have payed off. A gameplay trailer was released in late August and has racked up almost 6.5 million views on YouTube. The live-action trailer for the game, released last week, has already eclipsed that figure, with almost eight million views already.

For the second trailer, Activision collaborated with agency 72andSunny, production company Reset Content, Academy Award winning VFX studio Digital Domain and Academy Award nominated FX studio Legacy Effect. The two-minute trailer, directed by Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy), features voice acting from Peter Dinklage (who also appears in the game), as well as licensing Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," and seems more like a preview for a Hollywood blockbuster than a video game. 

Given the game's initial success, analysts are already predicting the title will be the year's top-selling game, moving 12 million to 20 million copies for over $1 billion in revenue, according to USA Today.

"Since the beginning, we’ve been confident that our investment and belief in Destiny would pay off," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, in a statement. "But not many people believed we’d be able to say it did so on day one."

For comparison, earlier this year, Ubisoft announced that its Watch Dogs release was the "best-selling new [game] at launch across the video game industry" after wholesaling roughly four million copies in its first week. The retail equivalent of that number of units would equal no more than $250 million—much less the $500 million wholesale figure claimed by Activision.

Check out the Santa Monica, Calif.-based brand's trailer below.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.