By Darren Franich
Updated December 12, 2011 at 10:31 PM EST

Modern Warfare 3 is not a particularly good game. It doesn’t have to be. Over the last few years, Activision has smartly built the Call of Duty franchise up from its humble roots as a Medal of Honor clone into a brand so all-encompassing that it’s practically a medium unto itself. Every November, a new Call of Duty game hits stores, and downloadable packages throughout the year keep the CoD community buzzing. So we shouldn’t be too surprised that Modern Warfare 3 has officially beaten the quickest-to-a-billion-dollars record that was previously set by Avatar. James Cameron’s operatic Fern Gully remake took 17 days to hit that landmark, Modern Warfare 3 took just 16. That’s an incredible benchmark for the series, and it’s evidence that the videogame industry has become one of the most economically vibrant corners of the media marketplace.

And yet, the news isn’t all rosy for videogames. As reported by Variety, sales in November were up 15% thanks to high-profile sequels — besides Modern Warfare, gamers also flocked to Elder Scroll V: Skyrim, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. However, overall revenue was flat, due in part to discounted hardware costs. That’s further proof that we’re approaching the end of the current generation of consoles. Next year, Nintendo will launch its potentially gamechanging Wii U, which will incorporate the expanding handheld market into the console experience. So it’s a good news/bad news kind of day for the videogame industry: Times are good, but they may not be good forever.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Read more: