Following yesterday's $1 billion earnings announcement from Activision Blizzard, the recently conjoined and "streamlined" megapublisher's executives chatted with analysts in a conference call. Besides mentioning they had a $3 billion cash-on-hand war chest and were eying acquisitions, the powers-that-be at the world's top third-party publisher also revealed some major, if not surprising, news.
While presenting his vision for the 2009 calendar year, CEO Bobby Kotick confirmed "an all-new Call of Duty" will be released "utilizing our leapfrog studio strategy." The invocation of studio alternation implies that next year's Call of Duty will be developed by Infinity Ward, since Treyarch is working on the 2008 installment in the series, Call of Duty: World at War. Though requests for confirmation of Infinity Ward's involvement had not been returned as of press time, the studio confirmed it was at work on a new project for Activision earlier this month.
To the surprise of no one, Kotick also told analysts Activision's 2009 "lineup will be anchored by multiple Guitar Hero SKUs."* Of the three GH titles announced so far, only one, Guitar Hero World Tour, has been confirmed as coming this year--this holiday season, specifically. Guitar Hero: Metallica is due out by March 31, 2009, while the just-revealed Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades' release window is merely "soon."
On the Blizzard side of things, CEO and cofounder Mike Morhaime confirmed that the second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, remains on track for a 2008 release. "We're currently in the beta phase and are planning to release it later this year after thorough testing," he said, later adding, "it's not going to come in the July to September quarter." Though rumors of a delay to early 2009 persist, Morhaime's comments leave the all-important October-December quarter as Wrath of the Lich King's sole possible release window.
*SKU = Stock Keeping Unit, a term used by retailers for individual products.