Vivendi reports Blizzard's first billion-dollar year

WOW maker's sales surge 59 percent to over $1.2 billion in revenue in '07; other game divisions' revs slide by 29 percent to $303.1 million; total VG haul over $1.5 billion.

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With its merger with Activision looming, Vivendi Games today reported revenue for 2007, its final year as a direct subsidiary of French multinational Vivendi SA. The gaming division saw a record €1.02 billion ($1.51 billion) in revenue, a 26.6 percent jump over the previous year's €804 million ($1.15 billion) haul. However, for the fourth quarter, the division saw sales slip 7.4 percent to €302 million ($447.8 million). (The company did not release net profit figures.)

To the surprise of no one who read NPD's 2007 PC game-sales report, Vivendi Games said its success was "driven by the continued momentum of World of Warcraft, its award-winning subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)." The company reported that sustained interest in WOW and the release of its first expansion, the Burning Crusade, added 2 million subscribers to the game, bringing its user base to over 10 million.

As a result, the revenues of WOW's developer and publisher, Blizzard Entertainment, shot up 58 percent to reach €814 million ($1.2 billion), putting it over the billion-dollar mark for the first time in its corporate history. Vivendi's non-Blizzard game divisions--Sierra Entertainment, Sierra Online and Vivendi Games Mobile--saw their revenue sink 29 percent year on year to €204 million ($303 million). For the fourth quarter, Blizzard's sales rose 19 percent to reach €186 million ($276 million) while non-Blizzard game revenue slid 32 percent to €116 million ($172 million).

Today's Vivendi Games numbers may well be the last before the division is subsumed into Activision Blizzard. In December, Vivendi and Activision stunned the game industry by announcing the formation of the new megapublisher, whose assets are valued at nearly $19 billion dollars. Vivendi SA will have a controlling stake in Activision Blizzard, which will have a structure that leaves Blizzard largely intact and folds all other Vivendi Games into Activision. It is still awaiting stockholder and regulator approval.

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