WOW subs hit 10M, Activision profits rise

MMORPG's paying userbase up by 900,000 users; publisher hauls $226 million profit on $841 million revenue for latest quarter; digital sales make up 51 percent of total revenue.

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Azeroth is filling back up. As part of its financial report for its fiscal third quarter ended September 30, Activision reiterated today that World of Warcraft's subscriber base has risen to over 10 million members. This is an improvement of 900,000 over the 9.1 million figure reported in August and comes after September's launch of the game's fourth expansion: Mists of Pandaria.

Overall, Activision had a rosy quarter. The publisher hauled $226 in profits, up from the $148 million recorded this time last year. Net revenue for the period came in at $841 million, an increase over last year's mark of $754 million. Activision's digital sector was particularly a strong spot for the company. Net revenues from digital channels came in at $430 million, or 51 percent of net revenues.

Activision CEO Robert Kotick called out a number of properties that drove the company's success during the quarter. These included Mists of Pandaria, Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, and back catalog sales of Call of Duty titles.

Looking ahead, Kotick said Call of Duty: Black Ops II is expected to be "one of the most successful launches of any form of entertainment in history." Additionally, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said preorders for Black Ops II are pacing ahead of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Due to the company's strong third quarter performance, Activision has raised its forecast for the full-year. The publisher now expects to haul $4.57 billion for the year, up from the $4.33 billion the company had previously expected.

Next year, however, is expected to be a trying time. Kotick said Activision is "cautious" as it looks to 2013 due to a number of factors.

"As we look to 2013, we are cautious about business prospects given a continually challenged global economy, the ongoing console transition, and very difficult year-over-year comparables due to Blizzard’s record-shattering Diablo III sales in 2012," he said.

Further, during a post-earnings financial call Activision confirmed that Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm will not make it out in 2012, and is currently slated for release during the first half of 2013.

Lastly, Activision refused to comment on an analyst question regarding the settlement figure it paid to Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella. One analyst has projected this figure to run in the range of "tens of millions."

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