It took James Cameron just 17 days to take $1bn (640m pounds) at the box office with his 3D blue-skinned aliens in the film Avatar but now he has been trumped by a very different set of virtual fighters.

The latest instalment of the video game series Call of Duty has become the fastest-selling entertainment product of all time, hitting $1bn in sales through retailers in just 16 days, seeing off the latest Harry Potter film which took 17 days to hit the billion dollar mark in August and leaving Cameron's other commercial triumph Titanic, which took three months to pass the billion-dollar mark, in the dust.

Yesterday, Activision Blizzard, based in California, said the latest in its mega-selling franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had notched up $400m in sales within 24 hours of launching on 8 November.

"Call of Duty as an entertainment franchise has made an indelible mark on popular culture," said Bobby Kotick, the company's CEO. "Call of Duty is now amongst that rarified group of sustained franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and the National Football League that attract or engage tens of millions of people every year or every new release."

Modern Warfare 3's 2010 predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops, did not reach the $1bn sales mark until almost two months after its launch.

Full story: The Guardian