Activision Blizzard Reports Strong Q1, Hopes For Diablo III In 2011

Activision Blizzard put out their first quarter fiscal year results on Monday. Here are the highlights (all figures USD):

* The company made a net of $503m, up from $381m from the same three-month period last year. The figures include $1.45bn in sales (up from $1.31bn), of which $388m was digital and subscription revenues ($322m in ’10). The company earned $.42 per share.

* Activision Blizzard has raised their outlook for the fiscal year by 100m to $4.05bn, and are forecasting earnings of $985m for Q2.

* Call of Duty: Black Ops players have logged 1.2bn hours of gameplay since the game’s initial release, while becoming the top-selling game of all time on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in terms of raw dollars. Downloads of the First Strike DLC package were a major driver of revenue, with downloads being 20% higher than downloads for the Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Pack over a similar timeframe.

* The release of the Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft was the catalyst for subscriptions for that franchise returning to prior levels in the West.

* In a post-release conference call, Michael Morhaime stated that they are aiming for a Q3 beta for Diablo III, and are looking to release the game in 2011. Should Diablo III not make release this year, 2012 will see two releases from Blizzard.

* Activision Blizzard will look to invest in their core franchises, and are going to soon be announcing details about coming Call of Duty games. The company is also going to be releasing a microtransaction based CoD game in China. There is also the Beachhead

The full Q1 release can be read here.

Analysis: Second verse, same as the first for Activision Blizzard. There’s nothing too surprising here: Call of Duty yay, Blizzard yay, further entries for both coming. Ironically, there was no mention in the investor package of the massive failure that was Guitar Hero that forced the company to put the franchise on hiatus or their closure of Bizarre Creations.

We can crap on Activision Blizzard all we want for the way they singularly focus on massive franchises while strip-mining other ones and abusing developers like Infinity Ward and Bizarre Creations, but the fact of the matter is that they are basically printing money at this point. They can do almost no wrong, and anything that is even *somewhat* wrong is getting cut off without remorse. Game fans can bemoan this all day, but until Call of Duty and the Blizzard properties stop making money, this is going to continue, and the company will remain the largest video game publisher in the world. I don’t see this slowing down any time soon, because even if Activision milks blood from the Call of Duty stone to the point where fans get sick of it, it’s going to take years to manifest dissatisfaction that affects the bottom line.

Christopher Bowen

About Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus. Before opening Gaming Bus in May of 2011, he was the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN, a lead reporter for DailyGamesNews, and a reviewer at Not A True Ending, also contributing to VIMM, SNESZone and Scotsmanality. Outside of the industry, he is a network engineer in Norwalk, CT and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.