Activision will milk the Call of Duty franchise a bit longer
During a conference call following Activision Blizzard's fourth quarter and calendar year 2012 results (pdf), Activision CFO Dennis Durkin confirmed that the Call of Duty franchise will see another installment in 2013 that will "raise the bar even higher". Naturally he didn't offer any details in regards to platforms and the story's time period.
Activision's most recent Call of Duty installment, Black Ops 2, grossed $1 billion in the first 15 days of its release. This helped propel the company's better-than-expected fourth quarter results: a record GAAP net revenues of $1.77 billion, as compared with $1.41 billion for the fourth quarter of 2011. On a non-GAAP basis, the company’s net revenues were a record $2.60 billion, as compared with $2.41 billion for the fourth quarter of 2011.
"We are very pleased to report that Activision Blizzard delivered the best performance in its history," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated. "As we look to 2013, we will continue to invest in our established franchises, as well as several new properties. We expect these investments to drive our growth over the long term and to enable us to deliver superior returns to our shareholders in the years to come."
He noted that in the short term, 2013 will likely fall below the company's record selling 2012 performance due to the challenged global economy, the "ongoing console transition" and the success of Diablo III. Launched last May, the action-RPG was the #1 best-selling PC game at retail, breaking PC-game sales records with more than 12 million copies sold worldwide through December 31, 2012.
Yep, it might be hard to top that in 2013.
But there's hope for the new year: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is slated for a March 12, 2013 release (finally). The company also kicked off the new year right with the release of Revolution, the first downloadable map pack for Black Ops II. It was released on the Xbox 360 on January 29 and will land on other platforms within the quarter.
As for the note about "transitioning consoles", it seemingly indicates that the company is understandably facing an uncertainty about what 2013 will bring. As it stands now, Sony and Microsoft have yet to officially announce their next-generation systems although numerous reports point to a possible 2013 retail debut.
That said, in a market dominated by cheap, high-quality mobile games, pricing will be crucial for console makers and publishers alike. Consumer reactions to the new platforms are unknown at this point: will they want to invest in next-gen hardware, or keep what they have and invest in a tablet instead? This uncertainty alone must be tough to face for the console industry on a whole.