Hordes of excited gamers have descended on shopping centres worldwide to get their hands on the latest release from the blockbusting Call of Duty video game franchise.
Devotees of the decade-old military shooter series queued through the evening to buy Call of Duty: Ghosts, which went on sale at midnight on Monday across the globe.
Lucky Australian players were the first to the checkouts with stores hosting special launch openings that attracted hundreds of fans.
At the official launch at Ipswich, near the Queensland capital Brisbane, fans arrived wearing military greens and carrying fake weapons while others lined up for three hours at EB Games in Sydney.
“I got dressed up for this,” said Daniel Keigaldie, pointing to his camouflage gear.
England footballers Daniel Sturridge and Andros Townsend and rappers Rizzle Kicks helped to launch the game in Britain by competing in a multi-player tournament at London’s O2 Arena.
Liverpool forward Sturridge said he was feeling “super good” after defeating game developer Tina Palacios in the final.
Around 150 people lined up at the GAME store in London’s Westfield Centre on the stroke of midnight.
They were on the receiving end of a barrage of orders from a member of the army, drafted in to ensure the new recruits were up to the job.
“The game is on!” declared Zohab, who had waited since 7.00am to secure first place in the queue. Fellow player Damien called it “the best game in the world”.
About 2000 shops around Britain opened for the event, according to Roy Stackhouse, the UK general manager for game producer Activision.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he told AFP. “We’ve got a very loyal fanbase, they drive us to make the best gaming experience we can.”
The success of the franchise, which has moved over 100 million units, is down to its spectacular gameplay and multi-player options, according to expert Scott Steinberg.
“The franchise is a perennial favourite because it delivers Hollywood-grade pyrotechnics, online multi-play and the kind of re-playability guaranteed to keep people coming back for months on end,” said Steinberg, global videogame analyst for TekSavvy.
The latest release, which will be compatible with smartphones and tablet computers, promises new missions and extends online capabilities.
The last version reached sales of $1 billion after just 15 days in stores and gamers have logged some 25 billion hours of online play overall, according to Activision, the game’s publisher.
The game, the tenth main instalment in the series, will be released for play on PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii U and personal computers powered by Windows operating systems.
Versions of the game will later be available for users of PS4 and Xbox One.