We knew World of Warcraft was popular, but Activision Blizzard’s [ATVI] flagship MMORPG accounted for almost the same amount of revenue as its entire take across all consoles.
Activision, which finished its acquisition of Blizzard last summer, reported revenues of $1.1 billion in the MMORPG category alone, versus $1.2 billion across all consoles in 2008. WoW made up the bulk of those MMORPG revenues, fueled by the release of its expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King. At the end of 2008, Activision boasted more than 11.5 million WoW subscribers worldwide.
On console, we wondered if there was a publisher who jumped on the Wii bandwagon sooner than later, and as it turns out, Activision is that publisher. The company posted $407 million in sales on Nintendo’s platform last year, no doubt fueled by sales of is flagship music game, Guitar Hero World Tour, which retails for $190 for the full band kit. Activision’s Wii take is significantly higher than the next-highest third-party publisher, Electronic Arts’ $172 million.
And did we say goodbye to PlayStation 2 already? Maybe that was a tad early, as PS2’s huge installed base and the availability of several Guitar Hero titles on that platform allowed Activision’s PS2 take to total slightly more than its PlayStation 3 revenues. As ubiquitous as PS2 is, we still expect a huge drop in Activision’s 2009 take for that platform.
While it’s easy to see that massively multiplayer games take the largest piece of the pie (below), it’s what’s missing that has us scratching our heads: mobile games. Activision has shut down Vivendi Games Mobile, and while the company does license some of its more popular franchises to third-parties on mobile platforms, we couldn’t find where the company accounts for these revenues. Repeated calls and emails to Activision went unreturned at the time of this writing.
While we don’t think Apple [APPL] will stroll away with the mobile market, we can’t help but notice how increasingly relevant the company’s iPhone/iPod Touch platforms are becoming, and wonder what Activision is doing about it.
What of Xbox 360? Activision’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat continues to hold its $60 price tag more than a year after its release, while 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War and Guitar Hero World Tour pile on the dollars for a grand total of $361 million on Microsoft’s [MSFT] console. It’s no surprise that Activision is working on Call of Duty: Modern Combat 2 for a fall release.
Although PS3 is lagging in third place in the console war, Activision still managed $241 million in revenues for 2008, a tad more than EA’s $217 million.
Rounding out Activision’s revenue mix was PC and handhelds with $99 million and $237 million, respectively. While we’re not going to beat the “PC gaming is dead” drum, in times when consumers’ dollars are being stretched thinner, consoles still represent a better value. But don’t take our word for it, as market research firms are predicting steep declines in PC sales this year.
On the handheld side of things, most of the Activision’s revenue came from DS, thanks to sales of—you guessed it—Guitar Hero On Tour, which was the best selling third-party title on the platform according to The NPD Group. PSP sales only accounted for one percent of Activision’s total revenue.