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Posts with tag call-of-duty

Activision quietly restructures senior management

An article from the LA Times reports that Activision Blizzard Inc. has quietly made some internal changes to senior management and internal organization within Activision: one focused on the military game Call of Duty, another handling internally owned properties like Guitar Hero and the Tony Hawk series, and a third handling licensed properties.

Why these changes weren't relayed to investors or the press is still unknown, but it's likely due to the fact that they could be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Activision has seen flagging sales for two of its former cash-cow franchises, Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, and a recent very public scuffle with Call of Duty creators Jason West and Vince Zampanella following their ejection from their positions as heads of Activision's Infinity Ward studio painted the studio in a negative light with gamers. This kind of restructuring could point to turmoil within the company, an image that an industry juggernaut like Activision would want to avoid.

So, what do these changes mean for Blizzard, and for World of Warcraft? Activision got a hold of us to say "nothing at all" -- the restructuring was for Activision's side of the business only. It's important to remember that Activision-Blizzard is an umbrella company that contains two separate divisions: Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment. Activision restructured into three different units, but Blizzard remains independent.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Activision-Blizzard makes lots of money, no update on Blizzard earnings

Activision-Blizzard has released their third-quarter numbers for the financial year of 2009, and as you might expect for the company in charge of Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft, business is brisk. They were expecting to bring in around $700 million, and ended up pulling in around $50 million more than that. It's good, we guess, to be the king.

Blizzard, in particular, laid claim to three of the top five selling PC games in North America on the good side, and on the bad side, Activision acknowledges in the press release that they're happy to have WoW back online in China, but a little worried about the troubles it's seen over there lately.

Strangely enough, there is no information in the earnings about how much money World of Warcraft has pulled in for the company, or any updates about subscriber numbers. Usually, that gets at least a mention, so maybe, with subscribers certainly down in China, Activision-Blizzard wants to keep that under their hat for now.

Read more →

Filed under: Items, Blizzard, News items, Making money

The NBA playoffs, presented by World of Warcraft


This isn't exactly shocking news (this just in: Blizzard has an advertising budget!) but it is worth noting: Mark C. was watching the NBA playoffs the other day and lo and behold, guess which familiar logo appeared during a halftime sponsorship. Apparently the announcer even read off the name of the game during a tag. I don't think Mark is exactly right about it being one of the "first non-sports games being advertised in a sporting event" (I'm pretty sure I've seen one of those Killzone 2 or Call of Duty spots during my Cubs games lately), but it's the first time we've seen WoW promoted outside of the usual TV spots.

It's interesting to note, too, that it's being presented during the NBA playoffs as well -- I've seen more WoW twitterers tweet about the hockey playoffs lately than the basketball equivalent. Then again, Mark also says he saw it on the NBA TV subscription service, so maybe it was targeted at people who are willing to subscribe to a digital service. And just for the heck of it, we'll also point out that it was an LA (Blizzard is in Anaheim) vs. Houston (Blizzard also has an HQ in Austin) game, so maybe it was geographically targeted as well.

But this will probably not be the last time you see WoW in this context. Keep those eyes open.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Blizzard vs. Relic Entertainment in The Escapist's March Mayhem

The good folks over at the Escapist are giving March Madness a little game developer spin -- they've pitted 64 different videogame developers up against each other in an NCAA Basketball-style showdown, with readers voting for which dev moves on to the next match. And our favorite developer, Activision-Blizzard, is still in the running after a few rounds: they've beaten Wideload Games and Crytek, and are currently facing Relic Entertainment (makers of the Dawn of War RTS series, as well as the classic Homeworld). Unfortunately, Escapist had to list them as "Activision-Blizzard," though what we're really voting for here is Blizzard, since companies who make Activision's other hits (like Infinity Ward, who make the best Call of Duty games, as well as Neversoft, who've overseen most of the Guitar Hero games lately) have their own places in the showdown.

Blizzard's got a tough road ahead, though -- if they win, they're likely facing fan favorite Harmonix (heck, I love Harmonix), and then will probably show down against either Bioware or Rockstar, both extremely popular developers. The other side of the bracket will likely have heavyweights like Nintendo and Valve coming out of it, too, so it'll be a tough road if Blizzard wants to make it to the top.

To vote, you just have to head over to The Escapist's forums -- the next round starts tomorrow morning, and every few days they're moving the developers on to the next matchup. The final round will be decided on April 8th, and while of course winning means nothing at all, this is a nice chance to show off your developer pride. Say what you want about the recent class changes, but Blizzard has given you Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft -- how can you not vote for them?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor

Activision Blizzard voted most likely to succeed

An industry survey put together by GI.biz has voted WoW's own Activision Blizzard as the most likely videogame publisher to succeed in 2009. Not that surprising -- not only do they have the Warcraft behemoth under their belt, but Starcraft 2 is rumored for a release this year, as is a sequel to 2007's best selling game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and a Guitar Hero spinoff called DJ Hero.

And who knows what BlizzCon will hold -- even though we're only now reaching the steps of Icecrown, the time is ripe for Blizzard to start hinting at content patches that come after 3.1, or maybe even expansion number three. Blizzard and their parent company at Activision are on top of the world right now, so there's no question why 30% of the industry folks surveyed said they'd have the biggest 2009 around. We can't wait.

[via Joystiq]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, BlizzCon

Activision-Blizzard stock falls

What's going on at Activision-Blizzard? Yesterday, their stock fell back down to the lowest its been since November of 2006. Even coming off of huge sales last year (they run the Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, and obviously Blizzard's World of Warcraft franchises, all of which had banner years in 2008), the stock price fell 6.5% yesterday, compared to a high in the last year of $19.28.

It's not Wrath -- the game's been selling like gold encrusted hotcakes since launch. There could be an upcoming shakeup in Activision's leadership (is Bobby K on his way out?), or it could just be that as well as Activision did this past year, the rough economy is hitting them hard, too.

At any rate, this will likely be just a bump in the road -- Activision is poised to become (if they haven't already) the biggest publisher in the game, and as you can see from this graph on their website, the stock is already back up above $9. We don't know what the reason is for this quick drop, but everything else we've seen points to a bright future for Activision-Blizzard.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath tops the PC sales charts for November

Surprised? You probably shouldn't be -- NPD has released the top sales list for November, and our favorite game is sitting right on top. In fact, the most interesting thing about the list is what's not on it: games. Wrath is at number one, followed up by such great titles like Office 2007 and Trend Micro Anti-virus. The collector's edition of Wrath comes in at number four, and after that it's all utilities except Call of Duty: World at War at number six and Spore at number 10.

That's a sad month for PC gaming, especially during a time when sales are supposed to be at their highest. Blizzard's leading the charge (and they're not leaving PC anytime soon), but they seem to be pretty much the only PC studio able to bring it home this year.

Videogame sales in general are doing just great: even in a bad economy, console companies -- both developers and retailers -- are seeing nice growth. But those saying PC gaming is dead will only have to point to November's sales for proof. Maybe in 2009 we can get a couple more titles quality enough to give World of Warcraft a run for its money.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Guessing at early sales numbers for Wrath

Unfortunately, as of this writing, Blizzard hasn't yet released actual numbers for Wrath sales last week (we were expecting around two million, but we'll see what they say eventually). But that won't stop us from guessing -- the list of top ten games sold last week in the UK is out, and Wrath... is number two.

That's right -- Activision's own Call of Duty: World at War beat out Wrath for the number one spot, but before you start worrying whether WoW has lost its charm, don't: not only was Wrath an expansion pack (expansion packs obviously don't sell as well as standalone games, sequels or otherwise), but the Call of Duty game has already outsold its prequel, the extremely successful Call of Duty 4, by a 2:1 ratio. Unfortunately, we don't have numbers yet, but all indications are that, in the UK alone, Wrath did almost as well as a game that outsold last year's best selling game. That all make sense?

If not, hear this: Blizzard made a lot of money last week, and pretty soon we'll hear how much. Even more amazing, Activision Blizzard, who owns Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft, accounted for a full 25% of all UK game sales last week. The merger has already paid off.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Activision doing well, Blizzard has spent $200M in upkeep on WoW

Activision Blizzard (the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment) held an Analyst's Day earlier this week (in which a bunch of stock analysts sit down to crunch numbers and predict the future), and they came out of it really well -- according to those in the know, Activision Blizzard is set to do very well in the future. Buoyed by Blizzard and their other big franchises (do we have to name them by now? Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, etc.), 99% of analysts give the stock a "Buy" or "Hold" rating, and many were impressed with what Activision told them about their releases in 2009.

And we got another interesting insight into just what kind of money Blizzard is looking at -- they reported on the call that since 2004, they've spent $200 million on the upkeep of World of Warcraft alone. That includes things like payroll, customer support, and hardware updates, of which there have been plenty of those. $200 million does seem like a lot, but of course when you consider just how much revenue they've pulled in via subscriptions (ten million players paying up to $15 a month, though Blizzard has all kinds of different subscription plans around the world), $200 million over four years isn't all that much.

We're told, though, that that money doesn't include any development costs (pre-release, and we're not sure if it includes patch/expansion development or not, either). And it certainly doesn't include Blizzard-wide costs, like their new HQ, or what they spend on advertising, promotion, and those big events held around the world. There's no question, however, that there's plenty of money coming both in and out of Blizzard's doors.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, Hardware

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