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Bethesda Softworks, publisher of last week’s long-awaited The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has announced that its latest game has shipped seven million copies globally across the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC. Digital distribution platforms such as Steam also seem to be counted towards this figure.

It’s important to note that “shipped” is not the same as “sold.” By comparison, Battlefield 3 sold five million copies in its first week, making it the biggest ever game launch for publisher Electronic Arts, while Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 has sold over 12 million copies during the same period, making it the biggest launch in entertainment history. Modern Warfare 3 was released on Nov. 8, three days before the release of Skyrim.

Still, shipping 7 million games to retailers is a good indicator; those retailers wouldn’t take the games if they didn’t think they could sell them. The question is whether or not they’ll be placing reorders soon as well.

Previous Bethesda games include the award-winning The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Fallout 3, both developed internally. Although the studio, owned by Zenimax Media Inc., only publishes a couple of games each year, they tend to be extraordinary successes such as Skyrim and id Software’s RAGE, or very poorly received products such as 2009’s Rogue Warrior, which currently has a 27 on Metacritic. Bethesda also released Hunted: Demon’s Forge and Brink to disappointingly low reviews earlier this year. However, even Bethesda’s most well-received titles, including Skyrim and last year’s Fallout: New Vegas, are notoriously plagued by technical issues.

You can read VentureBeat’s Skyrim review here and our tips guide here. Although we agree the game is definitely worth playing, we cited more than a few glaring flaws that prevent it from being the masterpiece it truly had the potential to be.

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