The latest instalment of the blockbuster Call of Duty videogame franchise is now on sale, with publisher Activision saying pre-orders had topped last year's record-shattering Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hit US stores at midnight with thousands of fans lining up to be the first to get their hands on the game, the eighth title in a franchise that has won a devoted following since it was launched in 2003.
The Santa Monica, California-based Activision, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, said launch parties were held at more than 13,000 retailers around the globe.
Call of Duty: Black Ops rang up 360 million dollars in sales in North America and Britain on its first day of availability last year to become the highest-grossing entertainment launch ever.
Activision did not provide figures but said pre-orders for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had already topped pre-orders for Call of Duty: Black Ops, which sold 5.6 million copies in North America and Britain on its first day.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which was developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games, picks up the storyline from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and segues into World War 3.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is going up against a military first-person game from Electronic Arts - Battlefield 3, which was released last month.
According to EA, five million copies of Battlefield 3 were sold in its first week of availability, making it EA's fastest-selling videogame ever.
Battlefield 3 is set near in a near future, with players taking on roles as US Marines tackling missions in places such as Paris, New York and Tehran.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are among a number of titles that will be competing for entertainment dollars this holiday season.
Others include Rage from Bethesda Softworks, which takes place on an Earth rendered a wasteland by an asteroid strike, and Resistance 3 from Insomniac Studios, which features a quest to save humanity from alien invaders.
Batman: Arkham City from Rocksteady Studios arrived last month to rave reviews followed by Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception from Naughty Dog, an action-adventure title seen as a contender for game of the year.
Also in the pipeline is the next instalment in the Assassin's Creed franchise from French videogame titan Ubisoft.