'Halo' creators' 'Destiny' tops sales expectations

"Destiny," the new video game from the creators of the "Halo" franchise, is already setting industry records.

Activision-Blizzard reported Wednesday that the game hauled in more than $500 million on its first day, making it the industry's biggest new game franchise in history.

Scene from "Destiny"

The sales, which equate to roughly 9 million copies sold, were even higher than most analysts had forecast, which bodes well for the long-term strength of the game. It bodes even better for Activision and Bungie, the developer of the game.

"Day one reported revenues are roughly equivalent to the company's costs in building the game, and thus follow-on sales will occur at higher incremental margins," RW Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said.

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"Destiny" was able to achieve the high numbers in part due to the unprecedented number of stores holding midnight launch parties. Activision said more than 11,000 stores opened their doors at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday so fans could get their hands on a copy of the game.

"Since the beginning, we've been confident that our investment and belief in 'Destiny' would pay off," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said in a statement. "But not many people believed we'd be able to say it did so on day one. ... We have more confidence than ever that 'Destiny' will become one of the iconic franchises of this generation."

Beyond physical sales, Activision noted that the game was also the highest-selling digital (downloaded) console video game to date—an important milestone given the industry's ongoing shift to digital sales.

While Sebastian and other analysts have not adjusted their earnings estimates for Activision, the company is just at the beginning of its fall/winter rollout of games, which will also include "Skylanders: Trap Team" and "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare."

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Sebastian noted that his check-ins with retailers indicate "very healthy" pre-order levels for the new "Call of Duty," which he expects to ultimately sell even better than "Destiny" and become the leading game on Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 this year.

—By CNBC's Chris Morris