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8th July 2021

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Activision "somewhat disappointed" in Wii U launch

Kotick concerned that a small number of 6-11-year-olds having the hardware could impact Skylanders this year

Activision's post-earnings investor conference call today was another opportunity for the company to tout the success of Skylanders, but the company's outlook for the toy line was not one of unqualified optimism. Answering an investor question about the health of the Skylanders series, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick acknowledged concerns about the brand's performance this year on Nintendo systems.

"As you know, we were somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U," Kotick said. "And I think it's a challenging environment this year, and one of the things we are concerned about is what the install base of hardware will be like for 6-11-year-olds. But we have a lot of confidence in the franchise in the long term. I think we're delivering another great product this year. "

Later in the call, Kotick touched on the generational shift in a more direct way, affirming for an investor that development costs are expected to rise once again as a new wave of hardware launches.

"While we had a strong 2012, we recognize that 2013 is a transition year as we enter the ninth year of the current generation of console video game systems," Kotick said. "We encounter new threats from unproven business models, and we compete against new category entrants. We aren't immune to unfavorable market dynamics, but we have navigated these transitions many times before, and we are prepared to do so again."

While Skylanders was the best-selling toy line last year (outselling Transformers and Star Wars combined, according to Activision), this year will see it face not only the hurdles of a console transition, but also its first fast following competitor. Disney is set to launch its own Disney Infinity line of games and action figures this year, allowing fans to collect action figures from a variety of its popular properties and bring them into virtual worlds where they can interact with one another.

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8th July 2021

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Latest comments (5)

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
Hmmmm. Perspective: if Skylanders Swap Force is THAT good (and the little bit I saw a few days ago says it is and more), perhaps it will help sell the Wii U to those 6 to 11 year-olds whose parents didn't snap up a new Nintendo home console last year.

I'd bet a dime that the bulk of Wii owning Skylanders users last year were (thanks to their finances) only able to choose from buying Giants and more Skylanders figures as opposed to a new system and ONLY Giants to keep their kids happier...

Glass half-full, Mr. Kotick. Always.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
So that's EA, Ubisoft and Activision that have doubts, or more, about the Wii U.
Following on from the very poor showing for the Vita we are now in a position where two consecutive major console launches from the big players have been somewhat less than stellar.

What does this mean for Orbis and Durango?
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
@ Greg good points--expecting a lot of children to own a relatively highly priced new Nintendo system when there's so much competition is setting your sights a little high. This Christmas, though, presumably with big Nintendo blockbusters out the door and a possible price cut, could be a very, very different story, so long as Activision don't hit the panic button prematurely and pull their projects away from Wii U. They need to be in the fray when Nintendo choose to send out the big guns, rather than standing aside and letting Nintendo and other publishers take the entire market.

@ Bruce, make that three consecutive launches that underwhelmed. Don't forget 3DS just because it proves the big players can turn their systems around with the right moves. Sony have done nothing to aid Vita after twelve months of poor performance, but Nintendo moved after three months. If Wii U really continues to perform terribly--and there are already indications Nintendo are pushing big releases forward and green-lighting fan-favourite projects to push sales--Nintendo won't be afraid to take action. A poor launch does not a poor life-cycle make.

Well Mr.Kotick, if you are disappointed thus far, and aren't sure about Wii U in the long run, and you do believe you're missing out on a good market opportunity, why not do something constructive about it? Pick up the phone to Iwata and say "Pokemon vs Skylanders", and watch your Scrooge McDuck cash pile pile ever higher. Nintendo do have plans to experiment with their built-in NFC technology in the near-future, so why not collaborate with their biggest franchise, than risk going up against it?
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Andrew Animator 8 years ago
What does this mean for Orbis and Durango?
Very little
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Kotick concerned that a small number of 6-11-year-olds having the hardware
So a NINTENDO console has too many teenagers and adults?

Hell just inched closer to freezing.
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