Activision not counting on Diablo III in 2011

Publisher's year-end financial figures show $4.45 billion in sales; company not committing to any major release from Blizzard this year.

Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk aren't the only Activision franchises going silent this year. In its year-end investor conference call today, the publisher cautioned investors that its sales and profit estimates for the current year didn't take into account any major releases from Blizzard for 2011.

When summoning demonic overlords, it's best not to rush.

In the call, Activision COO and CFO Thomas Tippl specifically said that with no current release window for Blizzard's Diablo III, the publisher "felt it prudent" to omit the game from its 2011 financial outlook numbers.

"We think that in the long run, Blizzard is good for one major new release a year," Tippl said. "But of course, what always rules is that the quality of the game has to be there."

Tippl pointed out that there was no major Blizzard game in 2009 due to the delay of Starcraft II. However, the developer made up for that hole in its release schedule by launching both the sci-fi real-time strategy game and the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion in 2010. If such a situation happens again and there's no Blizzard game released this year, Tippl suggested there would likely be two major titles from the developer in 2012.

Looking to another lynchpin of the company's current campaign, Tippl addressed this year's Call of Duty game and whether or not it can top the chart-busting performance of Black Ops. While the franchise will have higher digital revenues than last year, thanks to an expanded slate of downloadable content, Tippl said the company is projecting lower sales at retail for the game. He stressed that is consistent with Activision's approach to Black Ops, which it had initially (and incorrectly) projected to sell fewer copies than 2009's hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

As for its recently completed campaign, Activision posted net revenues of $4.45 billion for the year ended December 31, 2010, up nearly 4 percent from the previous year's $4.28 billion. However, fourth quarter sales actually slipped, down more than 8 percent to less than $1.43 billion.

The publisher's profits mirrored its sales performance, with the full-year numbers painting a rosier picture than those for the fourth quarter alone. For the full year, Activision's net profits totaled $418 million, well over triple the $113 million it took home the year before. However, the publisher posted a net loss for the fourth quarter, ending up $233 million in the red. That was still an improvement over the previous year's fourth quarter, when Activision's net losses totaled $286 million.

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284 comments
Kakaroti4
Kakaroti4

If this is true then Diablo 3 will suffer immensely due to the piss poor development that has taken place. ANY company could create a great Diablo game in less than 3 years, yet Blizzard keeps postponing it, until it loses any appeal whatsoever. When people finally get to play it, they will be disappointed to the max, because this will be a simplified/streamlined Diablo game that will never ever justify its laughably lengthy production time.

PixelBully
PixelBully

well, im sure my great great granchilren will enjoy this game when it comes out.

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

Of course it's not coming out this year.... It's Blizzard!

mardinn
mardinn

@ManHooYin I agree with you. Yes other devs can make game faster, but do you know that there are still people playing Diablo II? and StarCraft 1? Do you know other games that a lot of people are still playing? Maybe there are other games, but in fact that Blizzard takes its time to release games.. people still play their old games.

ManHooYin
ManHooYin

@mardinn No I don't think it's easy to make a RPG with multiplayer, in fact i don't know even where to begin in making any game. In the current generations of gaming there is always different variables in making any gameto consider. But people manage to pull of making great games in 1/4 of time it takes Blizzard to develop one game. If you look at the differences 13 years for Starcraft 2 (And thats technically only 1/3 of the game) and now Diablo 3... 10+ years difference. The only explaination i can think of apart from them being super slow and lazy is that they are simply using the majority of their resources on WoW. (4 releases in 6 years). And the main reason i'm moaning is cos Starcraft 2 just wasn't good enough for a 13 years wait (again for 1/3 of a game) and I'm just fearing it would be the same for Diablo 3.

snared04
snared04

Had an emo rage baddie (in an argument with me earlier that this game wouldn't be released this year) send me this article. This article in no way confirms or even suggests that Diablo III won't be in our hands by the end of this year. Diablo III is next, I can promise you that their development team is entirely focused on it, and they intend to be done with it by that time. They have already said A. They do itemization last in a game. B. They are currently working on itemization in Diablo III so we know they are in the later stages of production. This is merely the CFO of a company being fiscally responsible to their share holders by saying "it MIGHT not come out this year, so we're not gonna put it on the books just yet." SO, if it doesn't hit the shelves by the end of 2011, he gets to say "see there, I told you so, now you're not surprised by bloated sales numbers not coming through" and if it does (Which it will), then he gets to say "wow! record year! waaayyy higher than projections" In other words, there's no downside for him. L2read emo ragers

Death_xpress
Death_xpress

The game will come out when it's ready, just like Ketchup out of a glass bottle? anyway I'd rather have a good game on launch than have to wait for patches for months for it to be playable.

jonnybutler11
jonnybutler11

"we think that in the long run, blizzard is good to have one major release a year". screw you guys, its only "good" if you're activision and you can count on millions of wieners buying the yearly COD update, regardless of any improvements (or lack of said improvements), and whether or not it's a good game). any company in it's right mind WOULD release at least a few major games. ea: check. sony: check. take-two: check. blizzard actually makes good games, leave them to it. activision is garbage. i hate these guys.

Def_Defyin
Def_Defyin

For all those complaining about the time Blizz spends on developing a game, saying that the game itself isn't at the top of the line in a techinical standpoint your confused why they take so long. Blizzard makes sure that there are virtually no bugs and the big doozy, the games balanced. Do you know how bloody long it would take to completely balance a game like SC2? Since the first one was pretty much perfect they needed to make sure there were no cheapies in the second and there wasn't. The reason D3 will take a while is they need to be sure every class is up to par with the others. They need to manage loot with the stats matching drop rates and then make sure the level of difficulty using the D2 system (more players, tougher enemies) is on a nice even curve. Yet before they get to any of that, they need to iron out all the connection issues to make sure its lag free as possible. There has been only one Blizz game ever released where they had to do major fixes to balancing and that was WOW. No surprise as the level of depth that game had plus the unknown on exactly how it'd play out with the public almost ensured that you couldn't release a completely balanced game in even blizzards window of development. Let them work, it'll be worth it. Always has been.

archbolt
archbolt

My friends, no worries. This speech is typical of a thriving games company wanting to contain expectations of its stakeholders, and is not a marketing/sales decision. Blizzard wants to be able to maintain its creative edge and resist the pressure to release half-baked A-list titles for the sake of making money. I think you'll definitely be seeing some Diable III this year. Especially in the wake of a Skyrim launch :)

Mariner32
Mariner32

@hasancakir: I can't say I agree with you. I, personally, enjoy the aesthetic that Blizzard puts into their games. Cartoony it may be (though it's got nothing on Torchlight in that department), but it still manages to feel dark and keep the Diablo atmosphere from what I've seen. OT: While I can agree that waiting 4-5 years from when a game's announced to when it's released is a bit of a stretch, I rather enjoy seeing Blizzard's 'other' franchises feeling some love recently. Cross my fingers for Warcraft IV announcement?

GNWPCD
GNWPCD

By the time Diablo III comes out I may be 40 at this rate. Not saying that I won't play it at that age down the road here but I would like to at least be able to enjoy it while I'm still young. My god. release the dang game already.

jacyp
jacyp

@hasancakir: keep dreaming. Judging by SC2, Blizzard simply don't wanna be at the top of graphical quality, cos it would be demanding at gamers rigs and, therefore, it would be a game with limited market. Activision ensures that Blizzard only do games with lamme graphics so they can sell as many games as they can. It's all for the sake of money.

hasancakir
hasancakir

I hope they would change the graphic engine. If it would be released in 2012, they shouldn't use that old cartoon-like graphics.

poetdead
poetdead

lol guys, my d2 mates are either married with kids and some already dead. i wonder if i live this long to see d3. its prolly the next gen who had never done d2 gets the chance. dats quite sad.

Karlsfsn
Karlsfsn

The new Duke Nukem Forever..... What the heck does Blizzard have coming up this year? SC:HoS was "projected" for 2012

ag_04
ag_04

Well..yeah, it's great to wait for a game so it is perfect.. but I want to play it before i die lol. @baal46 Couldn't agree more.

Dejon09
Dejon09

Tell me something I didnt know, I'll Be waiting on this game when Im 80.

WWEKane1515
WWEKane1515

There has been speculation of this game for so long. Quite frankly, I'm sick of hearing about it coming/not coming out this year. The least they could do gives us more updates instead of waiting EVERY Blizzcon just to hear a few add ons that they've done. Seriously?...You guys wait a freaking year just to announce a new class and PvP. The least that can be said is, I hope it will be worth the wait, better yet, it BETTER be worth all of our waits.

Crimsader
Crimsader

Related Game - Modern Warfare 3? lol

baal46
baal46

Blizzard, please stop announcing your games half a decade before they come out. 1 year is more than enough time to build hype. After 4+ years people are just going to be disappointed.

deathsquad99
deathsquad99

i dont have a problem with Blizzard taking so long on games, I just hate that they announce them so dang early! D3 was announced in 2008. Its like oh look a new bliz game is announced it looks soooo awesome too bad i wont get to play it for 4 years!

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Honestly, I'm surprised people believed this game would drop in 2011. I'm not in the least surprised by this. Blizzard just released two huge titles last year, and as a company that rarely even releases one title/ year, it makes sense for them to space them out a bit. SC2 and Cataclysm will continue making them bookoo bucks in 2011, so they're in no rush and honestly might stifle that a bit by putting them out FY 2011.

quiksurfer
quiksurfer

dont understand blizzard at all if they release 2 major game a year, doesnt it makes more money

XxChicagoTedXx
XxChicagoTedXx

I don't like the sound of "Blizzard is good for one major release a year" I hope this includes expansions, because if that means 1 game a year, I'm done.

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

man i blame world of warcraft for how slow blizzard make games........ its the lazy mans world when you can sit on an mmo and rake in the cash. that said i play wow so i guess im not helping.

Pete5506
Pete5506

The people at Blizzard know how to make games, the wait will be worth it

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

What disturbs me is how close it seems they were to saying Diablo III would be released 2011. Just to look "normal" from a market perspective. Art is dying, cooperate talking heads are thriving.

twistyanddark
twistyanddark

By the time they decide to release D3 all those who were around 18 yo back in D2 they will have kids, wives and not time to play...

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

What's next Call of Warcraft 9?!

DP1130
DP1130

I like Blizzard. I really do. Not a fan of World of WarCraft, but loved the rts. I am a big fan of Starcraft as well. Same with Diablo. Problem is, when they do release a game, I don't see where the time was spent. Thier games are good, but overal, other companys have done better and faster. I am looking forward to Diablo 3 and the 2 SC 2 exspansions.

kenmanius
kenmanius

@dragonrift Never said it was easy bro. Just sayin with the length of their development cycles they don't have an awful lot to show for it. I can't think of one developer that spends anywhere near as much time on a single game and there's plenty that achieve much higher milestones. I ain't for slavin some of the most intellectually gifted and hardest working people around, but I have to call em like I sees em.

MEDzZ3RO
MEDzZ3RO

@campbell153 Some of them aren't. Valve aren't known for money grabbing. EA sometimes offer good value for money. It has to be said though Activision and Nintendo are the worst culprits for this; how many Mario spin-offs are there now? lol

AceBalls
AceBalls

I think this Thomas Tippl dude from Activision is starting to piss me off.

steve4123456789
steve4123456789

You can thank Black ops, just remember you were part of it, and part of the problem.

djwood84
djwood84

@BigWorld41 I hear ya, thanks for the civil exchange. I would just say that while Activision might be OVER blizz, they call their own shots. Also, a port would be seen as inferior in their eyes. They were not too happy about the quality of D1 on the PSX for example. I just don't see it happening. Plus they are building it around the hotbar mechanic of the MMO, something that COULD translate to consoles via reticles, but I doubt it would happen.

campbell153
campbell153

@MED zZ3RO Forgot about the other dominating developer... well mate they are all just as bad as eachother... money money money.... MONEY!!!

MEDzZ3RO
MEDzZ3RO

@campbell153 Not really. They have Call Of Duty, Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. EA has alot more triple A titles.

campbell153
campbell153

It seems Activision are trying for global domination! hog all the glory/money!

BigWorld41
BigWorld41

@djwood84: A heated conversation duel with another equally passionate gamer? Alright, I can Dig-Dug it. C-C-C-Combo Breaker!! for a second here while I reply. As a PC alum of D1 and D2 I would love nothing more than to have D3 stay on PC. This would be a more than reasonable expectation if Blizzard was solely calling the shots. With Activision in the mix, I wouldn't doubt for a minute that the game could be in prep for a console release. On the other side of the coin, as someone who games on all platforms, I would be very interested to see what a console D3 would do in this current generation of consoles. If D3 for PC were to be completed first with total emphasis on making the PC version an Epic drop, how would you be hurt any by it being ported to console? E3 is just around the corner, and strange things happen in this business (Final Fantasy on Xbox, Duke Nukem Forever actually coming out, Sonic and Mario in games together). If proper development and support is provided to a game for both PC and console respectively throughout the game life cycle all of us gamers can benefit. I would bet that Blizzard could pull it off.

themidgethotel
themidgethotel

Well, this looks like the beginning of the end for Blizzard. The Activision Rape & Destroy Department seems to be hard at work turing the once-great developer into their lap dog, laying down rules on 'quality' as if they've proven time and time again that they know what that word even means. What a sham. Please Activision, drop Blizzard off at the nearest bus stop and leave them as an independent company before it's too late!

Khatjal
Khatjal

NOOooooOOoooOOOOOOOoooOOooooooo

Ardain
Ardain

This is great! I want it to be as complete as possible and not horrible like Final Fantasy XIV. Square needs to work on that game a lot more. At least Blizzard knows how to make a AAA game. They been doing it for years.

Prosercunus
Prosercunus

This means nothing. All they are saying is that since no release date is known, they (Activision) are not going to use projected revenues in a 2011 estimate. This is a pretty common practice. I am not saying Diablo 3 will or will not come out in 2011, but this story just leaves us at square one in regards to release date speculation.

MissObvious
MissObvious

Nooo! I hope they end up getting it out sometime this year, this is getting ridiculous! They had a release set for Spring like 2 or 3 years ago, and they're still pushing it back! :( I'm sure they're just making it more awesome, but it's always so disappointing when they make it seem as though they'll release it the next year, and when that year comes along, they just delay it some more. :?

Matrix
Matrix

Surprise surprise. They should stop focusing on WoW so much and assign some of those developers to work on Diablo III instead. Course that's wishful thinking.

HufflePuff-TLH
HufflePuff-TLH

@Netherscourge, you got it, what a HUGE let down if they don't release it this year, i mean, COME ON, 5 Years after annu. Boooo Blizz. Boooo, i was such a big fan, but lately blizz are disapointing big time., and dont even get me started on Cata.. i said bye bye to WoW. Piece of junk!