Gamasutra- According to official NPD Group data, lifetime retail sales of Black Ops stand at 16.4 million copies through July 2012 while sales of Modern Warfare 3 are at 13.7 million copies. You might recall that Modern Warfare 3 initially launched at a level 10% higher than Black Ops, but was falling behind in comparable period sales by the early months of 2012. On the other hand, Modern Warfare 3 has already surpassed sales of Modern Warfare 2 (2009) by about 800,000 units.
Activision recently commented that its a la carte sales of DLC for Modern Warfare 3 were down relative to a la carte DLC sales for Black Ops, but that premium Call of Duty Elite subscriptions mitigated the revenue. This suggests that the revenue from the latest games is not a disparate as the unit sales would suggest. When asked, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities told me that "MW3 has no chance of catching Black Ops" in unit sales but that in terms of revenue it "will be close."
Which leaves open the question of what will happen to the next installment, Black Ops II due out in November of this year. Will Black Ops remain the peak for the series in terms of unit sales, or will Modern Warfare 3 simply have been a small step back before hitting a new high?