Activision details new Call of Duty for China as profits climb

Micro-transaction online game set for new market; Q1 sales beat expectations as profits soar

Activision has reported profits for the first quarter of $503 million, up from $381 million for the same period last year. Sales were better than expected, up from $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

The firm re-emphasised its commitment to its big budget franchises and revealed that a new Call of Duty game for the Chinese market will be based on a micro-transaction business model.

"With over $1.4 billion of GAAP net revenues and $0.42 of GAAP EPS our record first-quarter performance was driven by digital sales and the continued strength of Activision Publishing's Call of Duty and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft franchises," commented CEO Robert Kotick.

Digital content continues to represent a significant portion of our revenues and increased by about $100 million year-over-year.

Bobby Kotick, Activision

"Digital content continues to represent a significant portion of our revenues and increased by about $100 million year over year, enabling us to deliver record first-quarter operating margins and earnings per share.

"The Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike content pack shattered Xbox Live launch records, surpassing 1.4 million downloads in the first 24 hours alone, and Blizzard's service continues to grow its service offerings. To date, Call of Duty: Black Ops players have logged more than 1.2 billion online hours of online gameplay."

For the quarter, Activision said that digital downloads of Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike were more than 20 per cent higher than downloads of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Pack during the compatible period.

In an investor call, the publisher said that this years big Call of Duty release would be one of "the best overall Call of Duty experiences to date" and that more solid details would be revealed in the coming weeks, as well as promising "the largest integrated marketing and retail campaign we have every invested."

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Latest comments (10)

Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert6 years ago
"the largest integrated marketing and retail campaign we have every invested."

Sounds like they are a bit scared about the simultanious release of Battlefield 3. The title is called "Modern Warfare: Project Colossus" wich sounds a bit like large battlefields with vehicles and stuff. If they donīt step in the direction of BF they may loose a lot of customers to the competing franchise. And they need to release some details soon, to get the preordes up.
With the "first strike" map pack they showed (again) that downloadable contet brings more margin than the game itself. The concept works, even if the price is about 15 bucks.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart6 years ago
They didn't even mention BF3. They really are not concerned. CoD is king though if you read the silly ATVI hater forum posts uneducated/naive views will try to convince BF will win the day. Nonsense. What's really interesting is the Beachhead project. The next CoD will have some kind of integrated social networking platform as yet unspecified. They talked a lot about innovation as well. They are not taking anything for granted. And now Black Ops is officially the biggest selling game (despite so called analysts and silly forum ATVI haters saying the opposite) there's no reason why they cannot do it again. Roll on E3!

Disclaimer: These are my personal views and not necessarily representative of those of Collins Stewart.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
I think Battlefield 3 has an excellent chance to dent Call of Duty's market position, but unless something seriously wrong happens (like the next COD turns out to be actually crap) there's no way it will actually outsell it. Considering Bad Company 2 has sold over 8 million copies I think it's reasonable to expect that BF3 might do 10-12 million sales with its heavy marketing campaign, but that's still typically about half what the COD games now sell.

Either way, it will be an interesting slugging match as EA are putting a lot of resources behind BF3 and are really intent on rocking the COD boat. One thing's for sure; it's going to be a great winter for fans of war FPSs.
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Alex Abbott Standards Technician, SEGA Europe6 years ago
One has to applaud Activision for their COD IP, however amongst veteran FPS fans you'll rarely find a differing title that is referenced as inferior. The true success of COD has been timing, and of course the gameplay; infinitely accessible to newcomers and just that amount of depth (albeit very little!) to keep veterans hooked.
BF3 will prove to be astounding Im sure; Ive worked with DICE and can affirm their passion. Personally, Im with Bungie and Halo as the all time great online experience.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart6 years ago
The reality they have always co-existed and will continue. Ever since BF1942 came out and I played that a hell of a lot. Black Ops sold 12m, BC2 8m and MoH 5m? They all came out in the same year. So its business as usual for CoD which appeals to your Counter Strike arcade type FPS'er and BF for those who want a little more depth and tanks.

I buy both so I'm happy but I really believe EA made a mistake going head to head in November. It's going to cannabalize their sales since CoD is the King. If only they did a September release like they did for MoH last year but presumably it was not ready by then. There's no shame in a post holidays February release when people are looking for a change. Look at how successful BC2 was.

Clearly theres millions of gamers not interested in flying planes or driving tanks. As a PC gamer I just shudder to think how DICE made BF maps and aircraft work on a console. Still that's my PC snobbery creep out.

Endgame. Business as usual CoD is king and the younger usurper BF gets a bloody nose come November. There are after all a lot of people who won't be able to afford 2x $60 games in the same month.
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Bo Larsen Reviewer 6 years ago
I think Call of Duty will stay in it's own ballpark. If they tried to do everything, they might end up as another Medal of Honor reboot.

Call of Duty has a pretty strong core following like what Halo was once (except radically larger) and I don't think they'd necessarily enjoy the change of pace and size that you find in the Battlefield games.

It has become an institution: The kind of game that is played by non-gamers who only play Call of Duty and don't invest time or interest in other games. It's Madden with guns.

Even if they did make a game that was more of the same and the general press would give it around an 8/10, it would probably still sell well past the million copy mark during the holidays.
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Alex Dawson Technical Art director, Firing Pin Games6 years ago
My own personal opinion is that Battlefield is by far the superior game and BF3 will be a day one buy along with several other co-workers who may even have the day off to play it.

COD on the other hand I really don't care for... Modern Warfare 2 was my first purchase in that entire franchise after getting swept away in the hype from friends and will also be my last, I don't really see that it is that good a game and got increasingly annoyed by the immature players that popped up on multiplayer. I actually regretted paying so much money for it though did get a good few hours out of it before I bought Bad Company 2 and realised how great it was, there aren't as many childish folk on the servers either. As for Medal Of Honour I found the reboot a much more enjoyable experience than MW2 in single player, story was a lot easier to follow and you felt engaged but the multiplayer is the worst out of all of them, once I've got a few more achievements I'll be back to Bad Company.

The worrying thing is the micro transaction bit, penny arcade has the same view as me on that kind of thing I think
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Paul Gheran Scrum Master 6 years ago
" younger usurper BF gets a bloody nose come November"

Codename Eagle came out in 2000. And Halo sucks so much if you know games.
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Alison Cressey consultant 6 years ago
If I was an investor on the call I would be asking what else they are doing besides Call of Duty .....
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart6 years ago
Starcraft 2 xps, Diablo 3, Bungie franchise, next WoW xp, new Blizzard MMO, new Spyro interactive toy, Spider man and Transformers franchise off the top of my head.
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