Modern Warfare 3 posts largest day-one shipments in gaming history as Activision financials beat expectations; publisher promises "a minimum of two" Blizzard releases next year.
It doesn't take a seasoned industry watcher to guess that Activision's blockbuster Call of Duty series--an annualized franchise since 2005--wouldn't make it through 2012 without a new release. The publisher confirmed as much in its quarterly earnings report, adding that today's launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 boasted the largest day-one shipments in gaming history.
"As we focus on 2012, we have a strong product pipeline which features a minimum of two highly-anticipated new titles from Blizzard Entertainment, including Diablo III, and a new Call of Duty game from Activision Publishing," Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement accompanying the publisher's quarterly report. Beyond Diablo III, Blizzard has an assortment of projects in the works, including the World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria, Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard DOTA, and a still-unannounced massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed under the code-name Titan.
Activision also said the recently released Slylanders: Spyro's Adventures had outperformed the company's expectations. The recently released multiplatform title features action figure tie-ins that introduce new characters into the gameworld, and the publisher said it has already received reorders for the figures from all of its major retail partners.
On top of its game news, Activision also reported its financial results for the three months ended September 30. The publisher reported quarterly revenues of $754 million, up 16 percent from $650 million for the same period the year before. The publisher also posted a better bottom line, with a net profit of $148 million for the quarter, up year-over-year from $51 million.
Not all of Activision's numbers were growing. The publisher broke down the source of its sales figures, showing that its traditional retail business shrank year-over-year. Retail channels accounted for $250 million of the publisher's total take, down from $320 million for the same three months of 2010 and just one-third of Activision's net revenues for the quarter.
Meanwhile, Activision's digital business continues growing, spiking year-over-year on a quarterly basis to $427 million from $363 million. Digital channels (including subscriptions, downloadable content, digitally distributed games, and mobile titles) accounted for 57 percent of the publisher's quarterly sales, up from 49 percent for the same period the year before. Activision's remaining revenues were accounted for by its distribution business.
Finally, Activision boosted its full-year outlook based on the better-than-expected earnings. For the full year ending December 31, the publisher now expects revenues to total $4.33 billion (up from $4.18 billion), with earnings per share jumping to $0.76, up from $0.68.