WoW fills VUG's coffers

Blizzard's MMORPG boosts VU Games' quarterly revenue by 76 percent; Empire Earth II and Half-Life 2 contribute to stellar sales.

Today in Paris, French media giant Vivendi Universal reported revenue figures for the second quarter and first half of 2005. Overall, the media conglomerate, which has a significant stake in games, music, TV, movies, Internet, and mobile telephony industries reported an 8 percent rise in second quarter sales. The company said second-quarter sales tallied 4.62 billion euros ($5.6 billion). The quarter closed July 30, 2005.

Full half-year sales also jumped, by 9 percent to 9.13 billion euros ($11.08 billion).

In what must be a welcome change of events, the company's long-suffering game division, VU Games, had both a boffo quarter and half-year. Primarily on sales of the online hit World of Warcraft, the division's Q2 sales increased by 76 percent to 125 million euros ($151.7 million).

First-half revenues were up 61 percent to 236 million euros ($286.4 million). In addition to WoW, the company called out Robots, SWAT 4, The Simpsons: Hit & Run, Half-Life 2, and Empire Earth II as peak performers.

"World of Warcraft successfully launched commercially in Europe, Korea, and China and continues to be the fastest-growing game in its category," the company said today. The game has landed "over 2 million customers via directly managed operations in North America, Europe, and Korea, and 1.5 million paying customers in China, in conjunction with local [Shanghai-based) partner The9." WoW's commercial launch in China was on June 7, 2005.

On the mobile front, Vivendi's two mobile telephony units, Maroc Telecom and SFR Group, both recorded revenue spikes. Maroc Telecom's mobile unit saw total revenues increase by 31 percent to 538 million euros ($652.9 million) in the first half of 2005. SFR Group, the second largest mobile operator in France, saw revenues for the first half grow by 22 percent. The group has garnered 156,000 3G users since the high-speed service was launched in November of last year.

VU Games chief strategy and marketing officer Cindy Cook touted the new wireless division, saying, "VU Games' entry into the wireless games market in Europe has been very well received, as evidenced by the sales of Crash Bandicoot, which has already sold more than 700,000 units." The division has five new mobile games it is pinning hopes on. However, the July releases of SWAT Force and Larry's Sexy Pinball were the only two it mentioned in today's statement.

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