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Posts with tag vivendi

Activision CEO talks about in-game advertising... is WoW next?

When Vivendi acquired Activision -- or was it Activision acquiring Vivendi? these business deals confuse me -- to form what the soon-to-be Activision-Blizzard late last year, many players were concerned about how this would affect our beloved MMO. Blizzard assured its players with an FAQ on the forums about the merger stating, in no uncertain terms, that it would not affect Blizzard's games in any way (except to improve them, presumably). Activision CEO Bobby Kotick recently spoke with Next Generation, however, and talked very much like the businessman, discussing possible revenue models for their stable of games. He mentions how Activision-Blizzard must figure out StarCraft's business model for the future, "with in-game advertising and sponsorship" which he says "presents a tremendous opportunity for the future."

He illustrates how StarCraft can actually be "the model for in-game advertising and tournament play", spooking at least one World of Warcraft player, who asks on the forums if WoW could be next. Fortunately, Karune chimes in the same thread assuring StarCraft fans (and by extension, WoW players) that Blizzard has "no plans to have in-game advertising in StarCraft II." He explains that "Bobby (Kotick) was actually referring to Battle.net, which has always included ads." It's very reassuring, but perhaps such speculation would be avoided if Activision-Blizzard's CEO actually words things a little better.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Interviews

Activison faces lawsuit, says MMO market is "insurmountable"

Two bits of news about soon to-be-Blizzard's-overlords Activision: first, a group of investors are apparently planning to sue Activision about the whole merger thing, apparently saying that Activision didn't do enough to cash in on the deal. They're complaining that in the deal with Vivendi (Blizzard's owners), Activision settled for an "unfavorable minority poisition." The company hasn't responded yet, but if this lawsuit goes forward, we could find out a whole lot more about the exact terms of the deal between the two companies.

And for their own part, Activision is thrilled to be in the business of Warcraft: Activision CEO Bobby Kotick sees MMOs as an "insurmountable product category," and says that if they were competing with WoW, they'd have to toss at least half a billion to a billion dollars into the deal, and even then they wouldn't be guaranteed success. Which means that at this time, in this market, Kotick says that companies entering into the MMO market are basically throwing money away.

Can't say we're surprised that the CEO of the company that now owns WoW says it's unbeatable, but as you know by now, EA and Funcom (Warhammer Online and Age of Conan's publishers, respectively) surely disagree. We should see who's right by the end of the year.

[Via Incgamers]

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

Vivendi makes $1.5 billion in 2007, BC pushes Blizz up 58% from 2006

A few days ago we tried to estimate how much Blizzard was making from those 10 million accounts, but now we know for sure: it's actually around $1.2 billion (which is up 58% from 2006). Now, you can probably see that that's only $500 million short of the estimate that we were trying to prove was wrong, but don't forget that the $1.2 billion isn't just subscription fees-- it includes all those sales of Burning Crusade last year at full release price. What Blizzard earns from subscription fees is just part of that total.

Still, a $1.5 billion year for Vivendi (especially when their other games divisions actually dropped by almost 30%) is good news for them. Of course, the question they (and more specifically, Activision Blizzard) have to be wondering about is if the success can continue. If Blizzard can release a new expansion this year and hold off the coming threats in the MMO industry, they'll be looking at even bigger numbers in 2008. But that's a lot to ask-- there's no question Vivendi (and Activision) will come up with huge amounts of profit this year, but growth of this magnitude will be a tough hill to climb.

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

Comical side of Activision/Vivendi merger

Whether you are for, against, or completely neutral to the Activision/Vivendi merger, you'll enjoy Action Trip's latest comic in light of the situation.

You don't need to know all of the details, or what this means for Blizzard, to understand and have a laugh. Simply note that Activision is the company that brought out titles such as Guitar Hero and Call of Duty.

I'm a particular fan of this comic, and I'm not exactly sure why. I mean, I do play Horde, and an orc at that; and no one likes to get ganked! The style in which the night elf is depicted, combined with the last frame, had me laughing out loud though.

If you hadn't heard about the merger, or would like to learn more about what this means for World of Warcraft, head over to Mike's recent update on the situation, as well as his coverage of an interview with Blizzard President and CEO, Mike Morhaime. Dan also wrote up a post summarizing the official press release and pointing to some top-notch articles around the web for more information.

If you feel you have a particularly solid grasp on the matter, Elizabeth has asked for your predictions on the future of the company. Because I know you can all tell the future, there's no point in keeping it to yourselves.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, Comics

Breakfast Topic: Your new Activision overlords


We've all had a couple of days to mull over the news of the big Activision Vivendi merger announced this weekend. The forums, official and unofficial, have been filled with outcries of concern over what this means for the future of Blizzard and their favorite game, while Blizzard has reassuringly repeated that nothing is really changing. But after all the excitement dies down, the truth is that it's all just words until we see what happens. But today I'm asking for your predictions: where will the new Activision Blizzard be a year from now?

Filed under: Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

The future of Activision Blizzard

So now that the news has broken, the CEO has been interviewed, and the dust has settled on this weekend's merger, it's time to ask the big question: Why? Blizzard and Vivendi are on top of the world in terms of their field right now. Why would they combine with Activision, especially if, as they claim, nothing at all is changing? Why go to all the trouble if it'll make no difference in either company's business?

And the answer-- in my analysis-- is, as usual with most mergers: money. The fact is that Activision wants to be the biggest gaming company in the world. They want it all-- consoles, PC games, you name it-- and connecting with Blizzard helps them get a big part of that. World of Warcraft has turned Blizzard from a quality game designer into a videogame powerhouse, and Activision, in reaching for the top, has invited Blizzard on their team.

Blizzard will profit from it as well-- Activision knows how to get games published and marketed (just look at Guitar Hero III, which has done incredibly well for being a game that was not only not made by the original developer, but actually released up against a strong competitor made by the original developer). Blizzard knows how to make great games, and Activision knows how to release them, so both companies obviously think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But is it?

Read more →

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

More information on the Activizzard merger

The strange timing of this massive announcement aside, details are starting to come to light about what the merger of Activision and Blizzard means to all involved. First, Blizzard has made an official announcement in their forums, followed by a separate post with a FAQ about the merger. The FAQ basically says absolutely nothing will change on the Blizzard side. No layoffs, no managerial changes, no ship date changes. This is no surprise since no one in their right mind is going to mess with the success that is the Blizzard name and the team behind it.

The official press release mentioned in our first post today is a bit dense on the corporate speak, but the interesting parts are:
  1. The new Board of Directors will have 11 seats: 6 of those filled by Vivendi, 2 by Activision and 3 by independent directors from Activision's board.
  2. There will be a live webcast with the management of the two sides tomorrow morning at 8:30am EST and can be viewed at www.vivendi.com and www.activision.com
The BBC site has a very good summary of the merger along with a brief background on both companies. And The New York Times site has a deeper analysis from a business perspective. It points out that Activision is trying hard to compete with EA Games and adding Blizzard will not only put its annual revenue on par with its main competition, but will give it a criticial foothold in the online gaming and Asian gaming markets.

Kudos to our own Art Orneck on the "Activizzard" reference. It sure beat out my "Blizzvision" for cleverness.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Meet your new Overlords: Activision Blizzard

I'm a little overwhelmed by the news that Vivendi has acquired control of Activision to form Activision Blizzard. The PDF (you'll need Adobe Reader) for the transaction is here.

There is an excellent writeup of the whole deal with quotes from the principals over at Massively, but here are the highlights:
  • Vivendi is contributing Vivendi Games (which includes Blizzard ) and some cash to the tune of $1.7 Billion.
  • Vivendi will have a 52% stake in Activision Blizzard.
  • Activision will be merged entirely into Activision Blizzard and will bring all of their games including Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and Tony Hawk.
My main concern in all of this is a selfish one. I don't want Blizzard to be kept to new deadlines in creating their games. The "we'll release when it's ready" philosophy may be frustrating when we are impatient for new games and expansions, but it produces high quality games. Having worked for a video game publisher before, I know how rigid deadlines can hurt otherwise promising games. And we can see where the Diablo team still produces a fun game, but one that was obviously released before it was ready when we play Hellgate: London.

What do you think of this news? Will the merger hurt WoW? Or do you think Blizzard will be able to continue mostly autonomously considering they are currently such a cash cow for their owners?

[Thank you to everyone for all the tips!]

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

WoW's population hits 9.3 million in Q3 2007

Blizzard's publisher Vivendi is rolling in the cash-- they just announced their their quarter videogame numbers, and they're up a whopping 19%. They claim that World in Conflict gave them a nice boost, but c'mon, do you know anyone who's played World in Conflict? Didn't think so.

No, the boost came from our favorite game, World of Warcraft-- Blizzard raised their subscriber numbers by just under a third of a million, making their population now 9.3 million, a raise of over a million in the past year. Burning Crusade's release in China definitely helped, too, and Vivendi's games division raked in $315.2 million.

Now, far be it from us to call a number like 9.3 million "disappointing," but it doesn't seem like WoW will hit that 10 million mark we all expected in 2007. Then again, patch 2.3 could bring a lot of folks back to the game-- is there a chance that .7 million people will sign back in, or will we have to wait for the next expansion to see a big boost?

[Via Massively]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Economy

World of Warcraft continuing to boost Vivendi's bottom line

Vivendi, who happens to own Blizzard Entertainment, recently announced its earnings for the second quarter of 2007. Revenues from their gaming division are up 29% (with overall revenues up 7.4%), with the report claiming these numbers were up due to the continued success of World of Warcraft. Despite the fact that the game hasn't been growing as quickly during 2007 than it has in the past (Blizzard's official announcements suggest they're growing at a rate of approximately 160,000 new active subscribers a month compared to approximately 330,000 new active subscribers a month mid-2006), it's still a huge financial success that shows no signs of fading any time soon.

Filed under: Blizzard

Vivendi profiting from WoW; in other news, Pope Catholic

Vivendi is certainly raking in the cash from its subsidiary Blizzard -- the company has recorded a 12.1% boost in profit for Q2 2006, and attributes much of it to WoW's phenomenal success. This isn't exactly news -- Vivendi has been reporting continual increases on last year as WoW has grown -- but it's something to think about as a player.

I frequently see comments on forums and in general channels along the lines of "Blizzard are making loads of money, why don't they fix our servers/add new content/pay attention to me?". It's certainly true that Blizzard and Vivendi are profiting from WoW, but how many corners are being cut in order to announce new profit highs?

Even if Blizzard are doing all they can with the vast sums of money available, having players who think they are doing nothing with it is bad communication. These days, when Blizzard say they are aware of a problem and working to fix it, few of us believe it.

Filed under: Blizzard

Vivendi Games earnings see 109% increase

According to Next Generation, World of Warcraft is a nice little cash cow for publisher Vivendi. With first-quarter earnings of $30m this year, an increase of 109% from the same period last year, Vivendi's financials have beaten analyst expectations.

A report from Vivendi says that "this dramatic improvement was driven by a growth in revenues, with an increased proportion relating to the higher margin of World of Warcraft business". While increased development costs are also cited, it seems clear that a fair amount of the money pouring into Vivendi's pockets is staying there.

While players suffer from server and infrastructure problems, is this entirely fair? Well, publishers don't get into the MMO business to make losses. Without seeing a complete breakdown of where our subscription money is going, we're not placed to judge.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Prince & WoW Boost Vivendi's Stock

As Reuters reports today, Vivendi Universal, the big, scary parent behind Blizzard, has reported a 5.7% rise in 1st-quarter sales this year, spurred on mainly by the enormous cash cow that is WoW & it's six million subscribers, and from recording artists such as...Prince?

Ok, I grew up with Prince, and I'm a fan, but I have to admit, I had no idea he had made a single note of music in years; last thing I heard, some basketball player was suing him for renting his house to Prince, only to return & find it painted purple inside & out. At least I can just type his name & not have to find a character for that stupid symbol...

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

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