Activision Blizzard Q1 revs jump 33% to $1.3 billion

Controversy-plagued publisher beats raised guidance, net profits double to $381 million for January-March quarter.

131 Comments

Though Activision Blizzard's ongoing Infinity Ward debacle remains a cloud on the horizon, the publisher's first-quarter results offered no indication of future uncertainty. Having raised its earnings per share and revenue guidance in April, Activision Blizzard today said that results for its January-March quarter had beaten even those revised projections.

Modern Warfare 2 continued to propel Activision Blizzard's earnings.
Modern Warfare 2 continued to propel Activision Blizzard's earnings.

For the three-month period ended March 31, Activision Blizzard reported revenue of $1.3 billion, up 33 percent from the $981 million it logged during the same period in 2009. The publisher also saw a spike in profit, which rose 101 percent to $381 million compared to a year prior, with earnings per share coming in at $0.30.

"Our better-than-expected first quarter performance was driven by strong global consumer demand for Activision's Call of Duty and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement. "Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the number one title overall in the US and Europe for the quarter, which illustrates the continued momentum of our catalogue."

Modern Warfare 2's first map pack, the Stimulus Package, has also proven to be a boon for the company. The $15 map pack sold more than 1 million units within 24 hours upon its launch for the Xbox 360 in late March, and sales have since topped 2.5 million. As part of its post-earnings conference call today, Kotick noted that some 17 million Call of Duty map packs have been purchased through the end of the quarter--a figure that doesn't include the just-released PlayStation 3 and PC editions of the Stimulus Package.

Beyond its money-minting Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises, Activision Blizzard also said that it saw strong performance from Band Hero and Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2010. Those games performed especially well on the Wii, with the publisher noting that it finished as the number-one third-party publisher on Nintendo's system during the quarter.

The end of Activision Blizzard's quarter proved to be a tumultuous one. After firing Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West during the first week of March, the publisher was hit with a $36 million lawsuit by the two stemming from unpaid bonuses.

After mass defections of many senior-level Infinity Ward developers to West and Zampella's new studio--the Electronic Arts-backed Respawn Entertainment--the publisher was hit with a second lawsuit from current and former Infinity Ward employees, to the tune of $125 million-$650 million.

As part of its conference call today, Kotick noted that Infinity Ward will remain in operation despite the departures, after analysts feared that the publisher would shut it down. He did note that some 35 developers have now left the studio following the West-Zampella fallout, saying that Activision Blizzard expects "a few more" to leave in the near future.

News wasn't all negative out of Activision Blizzard during the quarter, however. The publisher announced a new Call of Duty business unit, one that sees Treyarch creating the just announced Black Ops, Sledgehammer making a franchise-themed action adventure, and Infinity Ward continuing with Modern Warfare 3. Activision Blizzard also plans to launch a Call of Duty-branded massively multiplayer online role-playing game in Asia.

The company also surprised many by announcing an exclusive 10-year publishing deal with Halo creator Bungie last week. The studio is currently working on a "new intellectual property" in its "next game universe," one that has been rumored to be an action role-playing game.

Activision Blizzard also announced earlier this week that Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, the first new installment in Blizzard Entertainment's sci-fi real-time strategy franchise in more than 10 years, will arrive on July 27. The third World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm, is also due out by year's end. Analysts predict that the two titles will help Blizzard sell 12 million games this year alone.

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Avatar image for K-Grogg
K-Grogg

@Bramann IMO, most MMOs suck, in terms of immersion and fun gameplay. Just because it's an RPG doesn't mean they have to make the combat suck and have repetitive gameplay. To me, one of the few that does it right is EVE, but even that I have some gripes with. What can I say, if they want me to pay monthly, I think I have the right to be picky.

Avatar image for K-Grogg
K-Grogg

@Hamsnowmer Most successfull sure. Most popular sure. Best? No. Best is a matter of personal taste, whereas the other two are indisputable thanks to statistics. So I can fairly say that WoW is not the best MMO. It is unimmersive, bland, and IMO unnecessarily repetitive.

Avatar image for Baralai47
Baralai47

It's not suprising Activision Blizzard made such revenue when so many people continue to buy their products. Usually those who "hate" them are still stupid enough to buy the product anyway so it's completely pointless moaning. It's like saying you hate racists and then voting for an extreme right wing political party :S Never really saw the great appeal in Cod and Guitar hero myself. Even less so when you see what you now get for what you pay, particularly in the map pack DLC's

Avatar image for Darkman2007
Darkman2007

it seems there is alot of hate for activision, yet for some strange reason, despite all the hate they keep selling more games.....

Avatar image for jtthegame316
jtthegame316

milkovision. i am to busy playing decent games to play mw2

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melty3219

Activision - Blizzard rule! suck it haters! :P

Avatar image for StarWatchers
StarWatchers

Short term Activision is doing well but the next 5 years could see this company doing much worse, what's gonna happen when they have milked everything to death... when modern warfare 3 is not the great production that everyone is going to make it out to be that franchise will hit the dirt. you can only play guitar hero so much.. the only game left im excited about is Diablo III. World of Warcraft was good but it's showing it's age and revenue on that title will soon go down.

Avatar image for LordRaymond
LordRaymond

This just shows that people really want to give Robert Kotick more money.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

The headline just screams severe injustice.

Avatar image for parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@Ninpo187 Yeah, $180 for three games (or more accurately, one game and two large expansions) is ridiculous, unless you don't know about the other two when you buy the first, then it's perfectly fine, which is why it's ok to spend $300-$400 on the worthwhile Halo or Call of Duty series... /sarcasm

Avatar image for Bramann
Bramann

@SithLordVenom: No actually I was looking for what is considered better so I can give it a try, nothing more then that.

Avatar image for SithLordVenom
SithLordVenom

@Hamsnowmer I am not going to respond. Reason being is you said wow was BEST, and COD was popular. Your return comment got me confused about what you thought you said. So I am just gonna walk away on that one. @ Bramann I like your little logic. Doing the whole switch-a-roo thing. Nice! So tell me, if I say wow is not considered the best, that means I am bashing it? Hmmmm....................

Avatar image for SithLordVenom
SithLordVenom

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Hamsnowmer
Hamsnowmer

@K-Grogg I've played just about every other MMO thats come out.. there have been some that had some promise.. but nothing has the loNgevity that WoW has. Maybe just the fact that wow is so successfull (you can READ good here: success, like it or not = good) that makes other MMOs not be able to follow through. For what ever reason.. like it or not.. wow is the #1, best, most popular.. HOW EVER YOU DEFINE IT.. MMO out there. Really kind of silly to try to argue that.

Avatar image for Crombian
Crombian

And yet none of the good points listed were enough to offset ATVI's one month Wall Street skid. Disappointing.

Avatar image for Bramann
Bramann

@K-Grogg & SithLordVenom If WoW isn't the best, what is? So often on these boards you see people trashing WoW, but no one ever offers up what is the best. Is it because there isn't one?

Avatar image for K-Grogg
K-Grogg

@Hamsnowmer WoW is crap...it's the most addictive, but that doesn't make it the best. Far from it. I've played, and found it quite bland and it failed to immerse me. I can suspend my disbelief for a video game to a point, but I can't enjoy it when it feels so un-immersive. I mean 75% of the screen is covered in HUD, how can you feel like you're a part of the world? The combat is awful, all you do is press buttons, its about numbers and time invested, not real-time skill. You can hit things when your sword misses them by 12 feet....it just really doesn't work for me, and is by far not the best MMO out there.

Avatar image for Hamsnowmer
Hamsnowmer

@SithLordVenom Notice I said "most popular shooter" not best. But.. WoW is the best mmo.. if you disagree with that it is 100% only because you are a go against the flow kind of person. Hate to break it to you.. in the case of wow.. the people really are correct. No other MMO comes close. (yet)

Avatar image for Hamsnowmer
Hamsnowmer

@jojoforpres Did you really just complain about the people complaining about the complaining? Wow.. brainfreeze!@!

Avatar image for NWA89
NWA89

BLIZZARD IS THE BEST!

Avatar image for DarthLefein
DarthLefein

They're unstoppable. Now if they spread the wealth to other publishers than American publishers will be unstoppable.

Avatar image for IrishBulldog93
IrishBulldog93

Bobby Kotick ????? why ????? the end.

Avatar image for ecs33
ecs33

@Ninpo187: If each pack as a conglomerate does compare to one of those single $50 games, then you are right - complete rip off. However, we do not know how large these games will be. I have faith that each campaign is going to be ginormous given Blizzard's track record. But, once again, I will wait for the reviews and see what they say like I always do.

Avatar image for ecs33
ecs33

None of you even know how big each pack will be. That's why we have reviews and that's why I always read reviews before I purchase a game. If reviews say that each episode is too small to warrant the purchase, then I won't buy. If each episode is gigantic and does warrant the price, then I will buy. If all the episodes put together do warrant a $180 purchase, then I will buy. You guys all seem to act as if all $60 games are big. That is totally not the case - I can usually finish most modern games in a day. Until the games and reviews come out, all the claims that Blizzard is selling out is mere conjecture.

Avatar image for jojoforpres
jojoforpres

What's with all the corporate sheeple commenting on this article? This is a video games website used primarily by video game players, if they want to complain about a company's unethical business practices; THIS IS THE PLACE. If the complaining really bothers you; quit YOUR whining and LEAVE.>.>

Avatar image for fattass21
fattass21

if you really think about it, its not that much, but still. they are pushing it with this. i mean come on, just because ps3 with their blu rays are what? 60 also? computer games have to be too? its really just dumb. if they had just release it at the usual $50, they would still make millions out of it. i dont think its really blizzard part in this, i think its really the freaking morons that are part of activison. but hey, i can be wrong, blizzard could have just became greedy sob's. and for that, lets see how many people will pirate the s*** out of this. i salute you act/blizz O7

Avatar image for Ninpo187
Ninpo187

Are you all really so wealthy that you can go out and spend $180 on a strategy game, or do you you just not care about the price because you know mommy and daddy will buy it for you regardless of the price? Great and complete RTS games have been coming out for years at $50, there's no excuse for what Blizzard is doing.

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SpideR_CentS

**** Activision. I will never buy another one of their games. They are the EVIL!!!!!

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thorughfire

World Of Warcraft is the most overrated PC game of all time.

Avatar image for SithLordVenom
SithLordVenom

@Hamsnowmer WOW the best mmo right now? No. The best selling yes. COD the best shooter? No hate to admit it as I can't stand the game Halo 3 is still in the lead. I can change your words right around. Of course some people are going to like these games. Of course some people are going to like pizza. But that doesn't mean you are always going to like pizza. Of course devs are going to milk their games. I would, and who wouldn't?

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BertisAU

"Think about how much more money they could make if they split Starcraft 2 into 3 games and then charged $10 dollars more than any other PC game ($60) for each installment. Nobody could be that greedy, right?" Are you serious? You've never bought something top quality despite it's higher cost? You mustn't have many nice things.

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cyberdreamer

i think blizzard is giving us starcraft in 3 parts is an act of high quality of product blizzards maintains.........and blizzard expansions are equivalent to full games...........not a puny expansion just released for the sake of it.

Avatar image for ecs33
ecs33

lol you guys are such haters. You all have the same opportunities that the founders of Blizzard had. If you think Blizzard is making money unfairly and see a market opportunity, then save up your money, organize, and establish a competing company. People have no room to complain if they don't get off their arses

Avatar image for Trogeton
Trogeton

why are soo many people complaining soo much.. if you don't like the companies then don't buy the games.. so don't just go and cry and moan all over the news like a bunch of babies that are forced to eat broccoli no one is forcing you to do anything, you could grow up.. that is something you could do and make it easier for the adults

Avatar image for Hamsnowmer
Hamsnowmer

@Sithlord Of course some people who get wow dont like it.. and some people who get CoD dont like it.. some people who eat pizza dont like it. My point is WoW is OBVIOUSLY the best MMO right now, CoD is OBVIOUSLY the most popular console shooter. So.. they make money off of it. I would rather have the option to pay 15$ for more maps than not have the option at all. I would rather Blizzard make THREE 27+ mission compaigns, focusing on EACH race fully with SC2 than have a watered down 8 mission each campaign like there was in SC1.

Avatar image for wiifan001
wiifan001

Hypocrites continuing to buy products from the company they love to despise. They pretend to hate the company with a passion but then get back on Modern Warfare / guitar Hero or some other Activision published franchise in a few minutes later. Hyprocrites yelling at a "soulless" company yet totally hyped for Modern Warfare 3. Hyprocrites.

Avatar image for SithLordVenom
SithLordVenom

@Hamsnowmer I agree with you but only to a certain point. I will agree that cod and wow are good games. I can say wow offers something most mmo doesn't, and I personally think battlefield bc2 is a much better game then COD. But it is my opinion right? What you fail to realize is after a few days of being level 80 and getting your shiny new t9 gear in wow, the game gets rather boring. You can ask plenty of people that anytime after 80, they loose interest. (And I know people that didn't make it past the trial account). They will either create a new character and level up slower, or quit the game period. But tbh with the requirements to get the shiniest t10 pieces, and the fact that most guilds break up because of the ICC raid (our guild did this because of the demand and stress) it tends to leave a very sour taste in your mouth. Now for COD, it is a good game. But again you fail to realize that some people buy it but don't get the experience they hoped for. Yea a few good kills will make you awe, but the fact that camping is ok in COD hurts the game. It is not the devs fault. Again good game, but some players ruined it. Yup there are people that swear by these games, but they fit into that "been there done that, and lets move on" feeling for some of us. Again charts don't count for not playing, sold game, or gave it way. And I am sure I can name some games people didn't even now about that can blow your mind. But again, sales would say that game sucked.

Avatar image for snfonseka
snfonseka

Why didn't they pay bonus for their employees???? Seems like they are doing well.....

Avatar image for Hamsnowmer
Hamsnowmer

@jadefury27 Was not regering to Bush's mess.. was refering to Obama's mind set that led him to say this: "lets be honest, eventually you've made enough money" But yes.. we'l leave that out of this.. I agree with you.. support the studios. My only point is.. if 15$ was too much to spend.. people wouldnt spend it. So seems like it was the right price to me.

Avatar image for XT-inc
XT-inc

you're games may be good, but your profit grabbing tactics and douchebaggery made me forget for a long time how much I hated EA (thats saying something). Thanks for doing everything you can to rape wallets.

Avatar image for twistedmalice
twistedmalice

Wow and CODMW2 help them get these numbers.

Avatar image for jadefury27
jadefury27

@Hamsnowmer: I half agree with what you said. you're right a lot of us who hate how activision has been treating the consumer & studios probably own a game or two from their library, but it's out of support of those studios. not activision. Kotick can suck it. i bought mw2 out of support for infinity ward but after how everything went down and with the bloated cost of their most recent dlc i'm done with that series, never played WoW so i can't speak on that. but you're righ. speak with the wallet. i didn't buy the dlc, neither did any of my friends or clan. Btw Please leave Obama out of this. Be honest. He's simply stuck with the mess bush left him.

Avatar image for cyberdreamer
cyberdreamer

pump out starcraft 2 and its gonna triple i tell ya

Avatar image for Hamsnowmer
Hamsnowmer

I love how all you activision / blizzard haters are sitting up there on your high horses.. snubbing your nose at the rest of the "common ignorant" gamers. First, I bet almost anythnig you own MWF2 and have played WoW at some point. Well.. here is a news flash: THESE ARE GREAT GAMES! People wouldnt spend 15$ for a handfull of maps if they didn't LOVE the game. World of Warcraft (love it or hate it) is the BEST of its kinds. People will pay what they will pay.. activision is simply making money.. thats what companies do.. with Obama era thinking I think people forget that companies do indeed exist to earn money. Starcraft 2 is in 3 games because each one will be massive.. Stop complaining and speak with your wallets.. oh wait.. you did.. just like the rest of us..

Avatar image for swamptick
swamptick

Activision Blizzard for the WIN! This site might be full of haters, but they are all buying the product anyway. The money that Activision Blizzard makes is PROOF that all the haters who troll here are a VAST minority.

Avatar image for melty3219
melty3219

oh wow all the haters are back... seriously dont you guys have anything better to do than cry and moan about a company that has done absolutly nothing to you? sheesh.

Avatar image for disfalling
disfalling

@milking a franchise : they've been doing one a year, alternating developers.. how has it changed? @17 million map packs sold : that is ALL map packs for ALL Call of Duty games, not just the stimulus package. that would mean more people bought the map pack on the 360 than bought the game. @not gonna buy the third one : everyone complained when Guitar Hero switched to Neversoft, whined on forums saying how they weren't gonna buy it... and Guitar Hero 3 is the highest selling music game of all time. Brand name is infinitely more powerful then developer name, because... 99% of video gamers don't care to come on here and whine or pay attention to this kind of news. they just want that game. prediction : call of duty modern warfare 3 will outsell mw2.

Avatar image for Smarty12
Smarty12

@mobywv I try to... But it's hard sometimes...

Avatar image for Smarty12
Smarty12

"The publisher announced a new Call of Duty business unit, one that sees Treyarch creating the just announced Black Ops, Sledgehammer making a franchise-themed action adventure, and Infinity Ward continuing with Modern Warfare 3. Activision Blizzard also plans to launch a Call of Duty-branded massively multiplayer online role-playing game in Asia." What the hell are they thinking?!?!?!!!?! Must they really milk a successful franchise till it's REALLY gone dry?! Damn you Kotick, you are a disgrace to the gaming industry and I hope you die. I hate seeing this guy's name anywhere near Blizzard.

Avatar image for Beawolf
Beawolf

Well g i wonder if it could be because everyone that plays wow wanted the celestial steed and the new pets, and perhaps even the dlc that came out for call of duty... So does this mean Activision is a great company? No because that is interpretive... All in all i really don't care for money grubbing screw over your employees kind of business models.