Yesterday, Activision Blizzard released an earnings report that beat analysts' expectations while still posting a loss. The $286 million shortfall was due to a write-down of the company's rhythm-game assets, thanks to music games' sagging popularity. In response, Activision announced it would release only two rhythm games--one Guitar Hero game and DJ Hero 2--in the latter half of 2010 to avoid another music glut.
Activision also took the time to announce its 2010 release schedule, much of which was previously announced. New revelations coming out of a postearnings conference call with executives included a March multiplayer beta for Bizarre Creations' combat-racing game Blur, which will ship during the April-June quarter. Also due during that quarter are Singularity in June and then Transformers: The War for Cybertron soon thereafter.
While laying out Activision's lineup for the second half of 2010, executives reconfirmed a number of high-profile projects. As revealed last May and reconfirmed in November, a new Call of Duty game will be released in the series' usual holiday season berth. The Treyarch-developed game is rumored to be set during the Cold War era, possibly in Vietnam. Given Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's billion-dollar-and-counting in sales, Activision is lowering expectations for the next game, with CFO Thomas Tippl saying, "We've not planned on repeating the same level of success as we enjoyed in 2009."
Activision also restates its plans to ship a Tony Hawk Ride sequel in the back half of the year, a fact the titular athlete let slip just as the game was skating into a critical buzzsaw last November. (In January, he promised the follow-up would be "better.") Activision Publishing president and CEO Michael Griffith acknowledged that reviews weren't as "high as we would have hoped," but expressed confidence in the concept of peripheral-based play.
"The premise of standing on a skateboard and performing tricks that only the pros can pull off is very compelling," he told analysts. "This year, with the hardware complete, we will be focusing on improving the software in order to unlock the full potential of the board. We continue to believe that this innovative peripheral redefines the skateboarding experience and could potentially have different applications in the future."
Griffith also said the second half of 2010 would see the release of "games based on the Spider Man and James Bond franchises," a fact Activision officially announced last August. Though little is known about the Spider-Man title, the James Bond game has been long rumored to be a driving-centric game in development at Bizarre Creations. Unlike Activision's last James Bond game, Quantum of Solace, it will not have a feature film tie-in, as the 23rd film in the series is not scheduled for release until 2011.