Thanks in large part to franchises like Call of Duty, Blizzard's unstoppable MMO World of Warcraft, and the performance of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Activision Blizzard recorded net revenues of $745 million for the period--which ended on September 30--versus a previous revenue outlook of $600 million.
In the report, the publishing giant reported profits of $51 million for the quarter. During the same period last year, Activision Blizzard recorded net revenues of $703 million with a profit of $15 million.
Although impressive, the third quarter doesn't even consider two of Activision Blizzard's biggest titles of the year: Call of Duty: Black Ops and the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm--both of which launch in the company's fourth quarter.
In fact, as stated during an earnings call earlier today, it was noted that "100%" of its Q4 calendar is made up of "established" franchises. That means sequels.
During the call, and in the earnings announcement release, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that he expects the fiscal 2010 to be the "most profitable year in [Activision/Activision Blizzard's] history with record operating margins." Activision Blizzard increased its outlook of net revenues from $4.18 billion to $4.28 billion.
For 2011, Activision Blizzard appears to have its focus on more from its biggest brands, announcing it will be "investing heavily" in the Call of Duty brand in the new year. Mentioned on multiple occasions was a new "first-person shooter, action title" in the Call of Duty universe, which we presume is the announced debut title from Sledgehammer. The publisher also noted that it will be pushing the Call of Duty franchise to new markets, around the world.
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty was given high praise during the earnings call, where it was noted that the sequel "almost sold more in its first month than World of Warcraft did in its first year." Activision Blizzard briefly discussed the game's commercial progress in Korea stating that the sequel is "slowly gaining in popularity" in the region and "transition" from the original game to the recently released sequel is expected over time.
But the real focus was reminding everyone that Call of Duty: Black Ops would hit stores next week. "[Call of Duty: Black Ops] is likely to be the biggest entertainment launch of all time," Kotick proclaimed during the call. He might not be wrong, this time.
I like how they compare WoW's first year sales to SC2's first month sales like it's something momentous. The market is a lot different than it was 6 years ago... And a developers first foray into the MMO genre, which at the time was nowhere near as huge as it is today obviously, compared to the sequel to one of the most popular PC games ever seems like apples and oranges to me. But then again I guess not to the investors.