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Posts with tag guitar-hero

Frostmourne makes an appearance in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

"Hold, lad. There's an inscription on the fret bar ..."

The newest Guitar Hero game isn't doing so hot critically, but maybe we can blame that cool reception on the fact that there's a rather familiar icy zweihander hanging out as an unlockable "guitar" in the game's instrument store.

This marks the second time we've seen Frostmourne in an Activision game (the first being its appearance in the Wolverine game). It's also not the first time we've seen WoW references in the GH series: the Elite Tauren Chieftain song "I Am Murloc" is available as downloadable content for Guitar Hero 3. Clearly, Activision is big on brand recognition. As long as it doesn't go the other way around, I'm fine with little cross-promotions like this -- though, to be honest, if we're going with the "axe" theme for guitars, I think I know a weapon that might've fit the bill just a little better.

Thanks for the tip, Valek!

Filed under: Blizzard

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.

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

Activision-Blizzard and their financial future

Barron's has a long article up about Blizzard's corporate overlords at Activision-Blizzard, and as is usual with most pieces of Activision news, people will probably see in it what they want to see. Those who think Bobby Kotick is just a money-grubbing exploiter will find more fuel for their firey fanboy rage: apparently he's a follower of Las Vegas casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn, and is modeling some of Activision-Blizzard's business plan off of that guy, Shareholders, however, will probably be thrilled. In terms of a purely financial sense, Activision-Blizzard is apparently one of the shinest futures around, with Kotick bragging that videogames will eclipse film and TV in terms of moneymaking in just a few years.

From our perspective, as longtime fans and players of Blizzard's games, the most interesting thing I see here is that Barron's makes no distinction at all between Activision and Blizzard any more -- the Activision-Blizzard company, according to the article, is equally responsible for both the Starcraft and Transformers franchises. Obviously, as gamers, we see a huge distinction between those two: one is a classic, storied, much-loved videogame series, and the other is a cash-in on a license that's panned everywhere but the box office. But for the financial guys, they're just both properties of Activision-Blizzard. That's not to say that our Blizzard is entirely lost (anyone who was at BlizzCon last week knows that's not true), but it is a sign that the merger is no longer news. From an outsider perspective, Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft are just two cash cows from the same company.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy, NPCs

Ten things WoW players should know from E3


Blizzard, as you probably already know, was not at E3 this year (officially, anyway -- they did have at least a few folks wandering the exhibit halls). But that doesn't mean there wasn't anything for you WoW fans: both Elizabeth Harper and I were there from WoW.com working with our sister sites Joystiq and Massively, and as WoW fans, we saw plenty of awesome games and demos that you should know about.

So even if you haven't been paying attention to E3 information on other sites, here's a quick wrapup of ten different things you should know from last week's big convention if you're a WoW player. There were no big expansion announcements or hints at future Blizzard releases -- they're saving all of that for BlizzCon this year. But there were a few games to watch, a few booths to marvel at, and a few trends to notice that you'll want to be aware of even if you're spending most or all of your gaming time in Azeroth. Hit the break for the first four.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, 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

Is Bobby Kotick bad for Blizzard?

Yesterday, when we wrote about Blizzard's mistakes in patch 3.0.8, I made very sure to stay away from any mention of Activision. Call me naive, but I still don't think the Activision-Blizzard relationship has yet affected how Blizzard conducts business -- Blizzard's mistake of releasing the patch before it was ready was, in my mind, all their own. But not everyone feels that way (just read the comments on yesterday's post), and Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica will go a step further: he's calling Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick out for caring more about how much money his games make rather than how good they are.

We've talked about Kotick here before, and we've got him saying both that Activision will leave Blizzard alone and that they'll be seeking additional revenues where they can get them. But Kuchera isn't so balanced -- he's ready to pin Blizzard's decisions, including the idea to cut Starcraft II up into three different games, and the pending monetization of Battle.net on Activision's influence. And the last nail in the coffin is Kotick's recent profile in Forbes, which apparently had the writer calling Rock Band a "knock-off" of Activision's Guitar Hero (even though history says otherwise, since Harmonix, without Activision, created both franchises).

But that gets a little too far into non-Blizzard territory for us. Kuchera finishes by saying that there's two forces at work in Azeroth: "the loyalty of [WoW's] players" and "Kotick's cash lust." And he questions what will happen when the two finally face off. Which is basically what we've been saying for a long time. But the question so far is whether that's happened or not. Have Activision and Kotick pushed Blizzard to make the Starcraft II and Battle.net decisions, or is Blizzard making all of these choices on their own?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money

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

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe plays WoW

Most Minnesota Vikings fans are saying that their punter, Chris Kluwe, is probably the best dropkicker to play for the team, and this profile in the Star Tribune reveals something else about the young (he's 27) football player: he also plays World of Warcraft. Not only is he breaking team records left and right, but he's an avid videogame player, and talks about his time in Azeroth so much that a local morning show has dubbed him "Chris Warcraft." His Wikipedia entry also says he once sent a signed Wrath mousepad to a fan in Canada, too. So while he might not be 80 yet (the Vikings have been busy winning my sorry Bears' division this year, and now they're headed to the playoffs), he has been around and playing lately.

Unfortunately, while there are quite a few notes about his game-playing around the 'net (he's also a big Guitar Hero fan, so Activision-Blizzard will probably appreciate that), we haven't seen his characters mentioned anywhere, so we have no idea what class or race he plays. For some reason, Mage jumps to mind as a complete guess, and so does Horde, but we'll probably have to ask Kluwe himself to find out.

Update: Internet detectives in the comments below say he's a Troll Rogue on Kil'jaeden. And that he's already hit 80 (isn't he supposed to be practicing for the playoffs?).

Update2: Kluwe got in touch with us and confirmed that yes, he's an 80 Rogue (so I'm 50/50 on the random guessing). He also says that he hasn't had too much time to play lately, since he and his wife just had a baby girl. And he says that if you really want to be amused at how he spends his time, check his achievements. Yes, he's a Merrymaker.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Factions, Classes

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-Blizzard September results reveals box sales paradigm

Activision-Blizzard released September quarter results yesterday. Most of the document is pretty dry and won't mean much to the majority of their devoted fans. They reaffirm the 11 million subscriber base of World of Warcraft and remind us that Guitar Hero's doing pretty well. Yeah, and they have an expansion coming up.

There is an interesting gem, however, to be found in their discussion of Wrath box sales:

"Revenues related to the sale of World of Warcraft boxed software, including the sale of expansion packs and other ancillary revenues will continue to be deferred and recognized ratably over the estimated customer life beginning upon activation of the software and delivery of the services."

That's a pretty packed statement. In summary, it means that the money Blizzard makes from selling the game box isn't immediately counted in their performance metrics at the time of sale. (There's no December "bump" to revenue directly from the 50ish dollars you pay for an expansion.)

Instead, they count the revenue gains throughout your customer lifetime. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? Let's talk about why that's such a significant notion.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Arcanite Ripper ushers in World of Warcraft: Guitar Hero


You'll want to watch the video above. It's of the Arcanite Ripper, a new drop from the boss Tenris Mirkblood in Karazhan. Tenris has appeared as part of the world event leading up to the release of Wrath of the Lich King. The Arcanite Ripper is a throw back to the old Arcanite Reaper. Except this one has a cool new ability.

Right click on the Ripper, and you'll become a rocking out skeleton. You're a one man LVL70 Eelite Tauren Chieftain. With this little axe, World of Warcraft now becomes Guitar Hero.

The video above is a quick fraps I put together with my long time WoW friend Telanis. He's hanging out in Ironforge, getting his rock on.

And you better believe it baby, he's rockin' your socks off.
Zombies have entered the World of Warcraft in the Wrath of the Lich King world event! Check out our tips for eating brains, our zombie night gallery, or see Blizzard's official zombie infestation guide. They live! Braaiiiiinnnssss!

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

Bobby Kotick talks about what Blizzard can do for Activision

The Wall Street Journal sat down to interview Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, and our little World of Warcraft game got a nice bit of face time (one wonders why no one's asking Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime about, say, Guitar Hero, but who are we to question the corporate structure?). Kotick says that Activision closely examined what everyone else was doing with MMOs and online gaming, and saw that the only real winner in the market was Blizzard. Rather than investing in their own franchise, then, they decided to just buy Blizzard from Vivendi (and as you know, that's what happened). Kotick says what's so difficult about running these online games is just the scale -- you've got to handle credit card fraud, keep thousands of servers up and running (and patched), and still provide a good experience for millions of players at a time.

Kotick also talks about the way that WoW is sold in Asia (there, instead of paying a monthly fee, many people in Internet cafes pay per hour in cash), and says that Blizzard's experience with setting up a viable pay model may come in handy with other Activision properties overseas, Guitar Hero being his first choice.

We're still not exactly clear on how all of this relationship works -- while both Blizzard and Activision have said in the past that it's hands off, you have to think that even though things are buddy-buddy now while the money's flowing, but what happens when the two sides start to disagree?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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

Activision-Blizzard merger may be complete on July 9th

WoW Insider sister site Big Download is reporting that the Activision-Blizzard merger is getting closer and closer to reality. They recently won another victory in court today, as a Delaware court struck down an attempt by the Wayne County Employees' Retirement System to gain a preliminary injunction against the deal.

We're now coming up fast the July 8th Activision shareholders' meeting, where they will vote to approve the merger. Activision has already said that they expect the merger to be official on or about July 9th, according to Big Download.

This, of course, squeaks in just under the wire for the E3 expo. Activision-Blizzard has already said they don't plan to participate, but that they will hold a press conference on or near the dates of the expo. It seems likely now that they will be officially announcing the completion of their merger.

Of course, we here at WoW Insider are hoping the merger isn't the only thing they reveal. A WoTLK cinematic and official release date or another L70ETC song on Guitar Hero would be nice, I'd say.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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