If you're anywhere on the internet today, or within 500 feet of a teenage boy, you've probably heard that today marked the official Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer reveal. You may have also heard that the trailer contained the world premier of a new Eminem song, "Survival." That's right: One of music's biggest stars released his new song in a videogame trailer.
Videogames and music haven't always gotten along very well. History is littered with stupendously bad attempts from pop stars to cash in on a medium they must have seen as a passing fad: Revolution X, a shooting game in which the only force powerful enough to take on a dystopian new world order government is literally Aerosmith; Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video, which is basically self-explanatory.
But the release of Eminems new song is interesting for the opposite reason: It shows just how much power blockbuster videogames now have. In 1990, Nintendo used a movie, The Wizard, to debut the world's most-anticipated videogame, Super Mario Bros. 3. Now Eminem is using a videogame to debut a song.
The song--well, it sounds like post-comeback Eminem. And the game--well, it looks like a Call of Duty game. But if you're not a Call of Duty player (I'm one of five Wii U owners in the state of Arizona, in the interest of full disclosure) it's easy to forget just how huge these games are.
Modern Warfare, the fourth game in the series and the first to reach cultural phenomenon status, has sold more than 13 million copies. Black Ops II, the most recent game in the series, sold 7.5 million copies in the United States in a month.
Recovery, Eminem's colossally successful comeback album, has sold five million copies in the states and 10 million worldwide. You have to be an Adele-style global superhit (26.4 million worldwide) to compete with the revenue these games bring in.
Granted: The Call of Duty series has minted no superstars. The developers are so anonymous that Activision, the publisher, alternates between them. Call of Duty will never be chased by paparazzi or bomb at an award show.
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But it's clear something has changed from the Revolution X days. Pop stars are ubiquitous, but videogames sell.