Online sales eclipse traditional retail for Activision Blizzard

UPDATE: Q2 sales of $967 million, profits of $219m fuelled by 5m Call of Duty map packs

Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher Activision Blizzard has reported net revenues of $967 million (£615.5m) for the second quarter, down from the $1.038 billion (£653.1m) for the same period last year.

Profits for the period were up to $219 million (£137.7m), compared to $195 million (£122.6m) for the second quarter of last year.

During the quarter the company revealed that digital sales grew 20 per cent year-on-year, and outpaced sales through traditional retail channels for the first time.

Activision released four boxed games during the three months to June 30 – Singularity, Blur, Transformers: War for Cybertron and Shrek Forever After, but it's the online sales of two Call of Duty map packs and the continued performance of World of Warcraft that has helped digital growth.

Speaking to investors, CFO Thomas Tippl said that map packs for CoD have generated enough money to rival the top five retail releases in the UK and US.

"In May, we released the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package map pack on the PS3 and the Resurgence pack on the 360, which collectively sold more than 5 million copies during the quarter alone.

"Call of Duty Map Packs have generated enough revenue to rank among the top five retail releases in the US and Europe thus far in 2010. And if you take catalog sales of Modern Warfare 2, and map pack sales for the first half of the year, they have generated more revenues than the number one selling title of 2010."

The publisher said earlier in the week that it has sold over 20 million map packs for the entire Call of Duty series.

"Our quarterly results were fuelled by continued strong consumer response to Activision Publishing's Call of Duty franchise and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft," said CEO Robert Kotick in a statement.

"For the first and second quarters, we outperformed our earnings per share outlook, and we grew our operating margin year-over-year for the six month period, driven by our focused effort to increase digital revenues.

"There are clearly more opportunities than ever before to create great games and we are at the forefront of doing so," he added.

The company also said it was shifting the release of True Crime: Hong Kong to next year.

UPDATE: Added details from Tippl on sales of map packs in the last quarter.

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