Activision Blizzard posts $1.15 billion quarter

Call of Duty publisher reports better-than-expected results through June, profits jump 53% to $335 million; WOW subs dip to 11.1 million.

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Beating expectations is becoming a trend with Activision Blizzard this year. Following on from a solid first-quarter performance, the gaming megapublisher reported guidance-topping revenues and profit for its second fiscal quarter, which concluded June 30.

World of Warcraft subs may be down, but revenue is up.

Total revenues for the three-month period came in at $1.15 billion, up 19 percent from the $967 million Activision Blizzard brought in for the same period a year ago. Net profit saw an even greater jump during the quarter, rising 53 percent year-over-year to $335 million.

Breaking down its performance, Activision Blizzard called out the fact that it turned in a record digital revenue performance during the quarter. Specifically, 37 percent of total revenues came from digital sources, a figure that was led primarily by Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft franchise.

Though the game's total worldwide subscriber based dipped to 11.1 million during the quarter, Blizzard said it saw an uptick in revenue for the quarter. As part of a post-earnings conference call, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime attributed this increased revenue to the game's presence in China. Morhaime also noted that Blizzard increased its investment in product development during the quarter.

Of course, one other key contributor to Activision Blizzard's top and bottom line was the Call of Duty franchise. Citing figures provided by NPD, CharkTrack, and Gfk, Activision Blizzard said Call of Duty: Black Ops was the overall best-selling game in the US and Europe during the first half of 2011. Having launched last November, Black Ops has now sold about 25 million units lifetime-to-date.

Though down from last year, Activision Blizzard has a number of releases scheduled for its July-September quarter. The just-announced Call of Duty: Black Ops - Resurrection downloadable add-on is the most notable of these. Other releases include Silicon Knights' X-Men Destiny (September 27) and Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012.

Activision Blizzard also announced Cabela's Hunting Party today, saying it will arrive before September on the Xbox 360. The publisher noted that the game will be "Kinect-ready."

Given its expectation-beating performance during its first two quarters, Activision Blizzard also raised its full-year earnings guidance. The publisher now expects to reap $4.18 billion in revenue this year, up from original projections of $4.05 billion. Investors have thus far reacted favorably to the company's performance, with shares rising about 1.6 percent to $12.01 as of press time.

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