Activision-Blizzard April-June revs hit $1B, WOW near 11M

Guitar Hero On Tour publisher April-June earnings top $654 million as profits double; former Vivendi properties take in around $347 million; World of Warcraft now boasts 10.9 million subscribers.

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Though it received criticism on Monday for passing on some high-profile Vivendi projects, Activision Blizzard is having a banner week. Today, the newly merged company announced its first joint finances, which underlined its status as the new top third-party publisher.

For the quarter ending June 30, Activision took in $654.2 million in stand-alone net revenue, a 32 percent jump from the $495.5 million it earned last year. The former properties of Vivendi Games, which include World of Warcraft powerhouse Blizzard Entertainment, generated €223 million, or $347.8 million, during the same period, bringing total Activision Blizzard earnings to approximately $1 billion. Though currency fluctuations prevent a precise number, the lump sum is much more than the $804 million in quarterly Electronic Arts reported on Tuesday.

Regarding profits, Activision enjoyed solo net income of $59.0 million, more than twice the $27.8 million it took in the year prior. The company reported that, excluding merger and stock-compensation-related costs, profits would have almost tripled to $74.3 million. For its part, Ex-Vivendi Games properties reported 42 million ($65.5 million) in earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA).

With such massive numbers, Activision Blizzard executives weren't shy about touting their roster of hits. "Activision's June quarter stand-alone results were the highest ever for a nonholiday quarter, driven by...Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: On Tour, Kung Fu Panda and continued sales of our catalog titles," said Robert Kotick, CEO of the newly merged company, in a statement. According to the NPD Group, Guitar Hero: On Tour was the top title on the DS title for the quarter in the US, with a sequel announced at E3 2008 earlier this month.

Mike Morhaime, still-CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, also touted his $100-million-a-month shop's wares. "Since June 2007, World of Warcraft has grown its subscriber base by over 1.8 million, to 10.9 million players," he said, mentioning WOW's recent Latin American and upcoming Russian launches. The ubiquitous massively multiplayer game's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, remains scheduled for release later this year. The first expansion, The Burning Crusade, launched in January 2007.

In a conference call with analysts after the report, Kotick said the combined company has a whopping $3 billion on hand, putting it in a prime position for "acquisitions." He also said that, according the NPD Group, Guitar Hero "is the biggest game franchise this year--even bigger than Grand Theft Auto--in terms of dollars."

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