Disney's game group posts $55 million quarterly loss

Media giant's Interactive Media division remains in red despite 20 percent revenues rise; six-month sales fall 15 percent to $376 million.

Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force

May has seen such game publishers as Nintendo, Capcom, Namco Bandai, Activision Blizzard, and Electronic Arts filing earnings reports. So too have a number of multimedia multinationals with gaming interests, such as Vivendi this morning. This afternoon, it was the Walt Disney Company's turn, with the mouse house today reporting $953 million in profits on $8.58 billion in revenue for the quarter ending April 3, 2010.

Disney hopes the arcade racer Split/Second will fuel explosive sales growth in the current quarter.

A major contributor to Disney's swelling coffers was the box-office proceeds from director Tim Burton's film Alice in Wonderland, which has now grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide. However, the company's Interactive Media division still posted a $55 million loss for the quarter, a modest improvement from the $61 million it lost during the same period in 2009.

"Improved operating results reflected higher Club Penguin subscription revenues and lower video game inventory costs, partially offset by higher Internet product development and sales and marketing costs," the company said in a statement. Club Penguin is Disney's kid-friendly massively multiplayer PC game, which is receiving a DS spin-off--Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force: Herbert's Revenge--later this month.

Whether Disney's Interactive Media division can turn around depends on the performance of its upcoming game slate. As outlined in a presentation by group president Stephen Wadsworth at this year's DICE Summit, the company has four major games due out this year: the racer Split/Second (May 18), the platformer Epic Mickey (Q4), the movie tie-in Tron Evolution (Q4), and the action role-playing game Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned (Q4).

Disney also touted its $4 billion acquisition of Marvel, which will receive a big revenue lift from Iron Man 2 income, and the licensing of its numerous characters. Many of those characters, including Iron Man, are the subject of games currently developed by third-party publishers.

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