Browder shines on ‘Starcraft II’

On a recent July day in Paris, game developer Dustin Browder was living like an international rock star, doling out autographs and chatting with fans.

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.

Read more at Daily Variety

Activision – and the power of digital

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.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog

Gamers more than ready for ‘Duty’

While most videogame publishers are taking advantage of digital downloads to extend their profits these days, none are doing so as successfully as Activision.

The company on Monday announced that life-to-date sales for downloadable expansions to its “Call of Duty” games have surpassed 20 million units.

Read more at Daily Variety

Starcraft II hits. Productivity halts.

July 27 is “Starcraft II” day. And while that might not mean a lot to some people, for others it’s reason for celebration.

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.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog.

Activision’s Next Blockbuster: Starcraft II Hits Shelves

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.

Read more at CNBC.com

Digital Downloads Encroach on Brick and Mortar Territory

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.

Read more at CNBC.

Ad veteran joins Activision

Activision Blizzard, the gaming industry’s largest publisher, has hired a high profile advertising and marketing veteran as CEO of its Activision Publishing arm.

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.

Read more at Daily Variety

New Activision Publishing CEO may have best resume of all time

Today’s appointment of Eric Hirshberg as CEO of Activision Publishing rounds out a nine-month search by the company and will fill the hole left by the promotion of Mike Griffith 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.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog

E3: The excess is back

If you thought Microsoft’s multi-million dollar Cirque du Soleil backed introduction of Kinect, its gesture-recognition controller, was extravagant, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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.

Read more at Variety.com

This Year’s Video Game Summit: What to Expect

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.

Read more at CNBC.com