Publisher Activision has announced its results for the third quarter, revealing a 74 per cent rise in net profits as strong sales of key titles such as Tony Hawk Underground and True Crime drove revenues above $500 million.
Net profit for the quarter was $77 million, or 79 cents per share, on revenues of $508.5 million - compared with the company's own mid-December estimates, which called for earnings per share of 67 cents on revenues of $480 million.
The established Tony Hawk skateboarding franchise certainly performed well for the company, but its two new franchises - True Crime and Call of Duty - were also very successful in the holiday sales season, and Activision plans to invest heavily in the True Crime brand in particular.
The outlook for the full year has been raised, with Activision now expecting to earn 72 cents per share on revenues of $910 million, up from its previous projections of 56 cents per share on revenue of $870 million.
The company, which is traditionally conservative in its forecasts, has also announced that it expects to break the $1 billion mark in fiscal 2005, and expects a profit of 90 cents per share for the full year - a strong projection which is based in some part on the publisher's confidence that it can minimise the research and development costs required for the next generation consoles, which will launch in 2006.
For the coming year, Activision's release schedule mostly consists of franchise sequels and movie licenses, with the company playing it safe as the current generation consoles enter the latter stages of their lifespans.
Sequels to Tony Hawk Underground, True Crime and Call of Duty are all expected, while movie sequels such as Shrek 2 and Spider-Man 2 are also in the works. Rome: Total War and Vampire Blood Lines continue two of the company's lower selling but nonetheless successful franchises, while id Software's much-delayed Doom III will be released "when it's done" - currently expected to mean somewhere between summer and next January.