Analyst: StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm likely delayed to 2013

In anticipation of Activision Blizzard's Q1 earnings report later this week, Cowan & Company analyst Doug Creutz said he expects Blizzard may delay StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm to 2013. While that may be bad news for consumers, the good news for the company is that he projects Diablo 3 sales to be much better than originally forecast.

Creutz said in a report that "Typically, Blizzard puts its new titles into beta for 3-6 months before they are officially released. With only 5 months left in the year, while it is still possible that Swarm could make the fiscal year, we are now assuming it ships in FY13." The sequel, a followup to StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty's Terran campaign released in late 2010, follows the Zerg and its queen Kerrigan.

Creutz said the news isn't all bad for Blizzard, as he is projecting Diablo 3's worldwide sales to hit eight million units, up 60 percent from the original forecast of five million. The game went on sale on May 15 and sold 3.5 million copies on the first day.

Blizzard also just announced September 25 as the release date for its World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

For Activision, Creutz predicts that the dollar figure from the Call of Duty settlement with former Infinity Ward heads Vincent Zampella and Jason West could be in the "tens of millions." He believes, however, that investors will probably ignore the settlement's impact when looking at the company's overall financial health.

The Activision Blizzard earnings call is on Thursday.