Some mildly interesting stuff:
- Cataclysm sales were supposed to push them over $600 million in revenue (for Cataclysm sales alone, excluding new subs and older WoW game purchases), but they earned $544 million instead. GAAP Revenue was $340 million for this most recent quarter, but they're deferring $204 million to next quarter. Nice way to show a constant revenue growth each quarter. =]
- Earnings basically showed those 4.7 million Cataclysm sales over 3 months as detailed earlier. Since they were expecting to earn about $320 million (if Cataclysm never launched) for the quarter, and that $544 million included all new WoW/TBC/WOTLK sales as well, there doesn't appear to be much of an increase in new subscriptions at all. Cataclysm was supposed to be the expansion pack to bring back all of the old players, but the impact has been minimal.
- That's actually good news for their next expansion pack really. Since the shattering experiment failed, they'll need to do something really big for the next expansion pack to get player's interest back: tons of new dungeons, a couple new professions, and at least two new hero classes would be nice. Maybe a third faction? =] It's going to have to be something very impressive to bring back the masses.
- The new "Project Beachhead" digital platform for Call of Duty.. paid services, communication, online community, exclusive content, digital downloads, and such. It'll basically be Battle.net for the CoD franchise - remember how they eventually wanted to bring everything together as one gigantic "Battle.net"?
- They're discontinuing Guitar Hero and disbanding associated business units (e.g. laying people off, closing studios). They're also killing off True Crime: Hong Kong.
- Activision Blizzard will be announcing an "innovative new universe with broad appeal that will be revealed at Toy Fair later this week and will bring the world of toys, video games and the Internet together in an unprecedented way." This is the first time Activision will be exhibiting at Toy Fair and this isn't for Blizzard related games, so I'm not really interested. It will probably be about their LEGO series or Zhu Zhu Pets or something.. meh.
- Outlook not so good for Blizzard titles in 2011, but they promised at least 2 major releases in 2012. Those would most likely be Diablo 3 and their next SC2 Expansion Pack (Heart of the Swarm) though. Their next-gen MMO is still years away.
- NetEase will be doing their Starcraft 2 launch in China. I wonder how it's going to be received in China..
- Heart of the Swarm will have more details (e.g. release date?) in the "coming months". Diablo 3 beta will be starting soon too (they're playing it cool with Diablo 3, as usual, they don't want to make any announcements yet and want to make sure the game is perfected before release).
The call is over now.. I was hoping for more, but not surprised at all.
FYI.. their stock is falling rapidly as a result of this call too. Mostly because of their statement on low revenue/guidance this year. 2011's going to really suck for both Activision and their customers. =[
Confirmation regarding lay-offs. Both Vicarious Visions and Freestyle Games have been hit with notices shortly after the meeting. According to Activision Blizzard's 8-K, they'll be getting rid of approx. 500 employees. The decision was made Feb. 3, and will be taking place on March 31 for the staff.
This same time last year, they laid off approx. 200 people. Apparently, February is the time of month when the non-performing studios need to start worrying.