The lead designer on Activision-Blizzard’s “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty,” one of the most anticipated vidgame titles of the year, was in the City of Light for one of many midnight launches held worldwide for the game. Nearly 1,500 people showed up in the rain there to buy the game the instant it went on sale, July 22, and to get Browder to sign their copy.
All in all, it was a mixed financial quarter for the folks at Activision. Earnings per share were higher than expected, but revenue fell short – which was somewhat shocking for a company that has a reputation for always meeting or beating the guidance it gives investors. The real story of yesterday’s earnings announcement, though, was the force that digital downloads have become for the company.
For the first time, Activsion’s revenue from digital sales topped that of retail sales, as “Modern Warfare 2” continued to flex is muscles.
The company on Monday announced that life-to-date sales for downloadable expansions to its “Call of Duty” games have surpassed 20 million units.
Twelve years after the original “Starcraft” hit PCs and became a cultural phenomenon, Blizzard Entertainment is trying to bottle lightning for a second time. And no one is betting against them.
Normally, the release of a PC game – even a highly anticipated one – wouldn’t be a particularly big deal for investors. But when that game is “Starcraft II,” all the usual rules are thrown out the window.
Analysts expect the game, which ships to retail on Tuesday, to sell up to 4.5 million copies by the end of August. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly twice as many copies as the year’s best selling console game to date.
Digital distribution has been a hot topic in the video game industry for years – with developers, publishers and retailers trying to forecast when it will become a real threat to traditional brick and mortar stores.
New data, however, shows that time might be closer than many were expecting.
Eric Hirshberg, who had served as CEO and chief creative officer of advertising and marketing agency Deutsch/LA, will join the company effective Sept. 7. He assumes the position from Mike Griffith, who was promoted to vice chairman of Activision Blizzard earlier this year.
Activision’s excited about the move for a number of reasons, but gamers should be excited because Eric Hirshberg might have the coolest freakin’ resume of all time.
Activision, publisher of such games as “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” “Guitar Hero” and “World of Warcraft” reached into its coffers and pulled out what might have been the most extravagant party in the video game convention’s history.
If the video game world were following its normal cycle, console makers would be revealing details of their next generation systems in less than two weeks. This cycle is anything but normal, though – and so at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), game makers will instead chart a new path.
Rather than introducing new systems, Microsoft and Sony will both introduce motion sensor controllers that are intended to both attract a new audience to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 – and extend the lifespan of those systems by at least another three years. Nintendo, which is still seeing great success with the Wii, will focus instead on once again innovating the portable world.