In Blizzardvision’s quarterly earnings call today, Blizzard’s CEO Mike Morhaime said that “11.5 million continued to play Warcraft, which is a significant increase from the same time last year.”
But 11.5 million is the same number of people who were playing the game in December, a month after the “Lich King” update launched.
Still, the game is adding new players all the time. “Lich King” was the top-selling PC game in the U.S. in the first three months of 2009, according to market researcher The NPD Group. Then again, it is Blizzard Entertainment. NPD also reported that six of the top 10 games in March were made by the Irvine game developer.
|Rank||Top-selling PC Games in March 2009 (U.S.)|
|2||World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Expansion Pack|
|5||World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest|
|6||World Of Warcraft|
|9||World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack|
|12||Starcraft: Battle Chest|
|20||Diablo Battle Chest|
|Source: The NPD Group|
What Blizzard is really concentrating on now is StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3, two games building on original titles from eight and 11 years ago. Both games were still in the top 20 PC games sold in March (see chart on right), Morhaime said.
“We had a strong March quarter despite the weak economy. This highlights the strong longevity of the games.
StarCraft 2 will begin an external beta test this summer, which “will signal the final stretch of development,” Morhaime said.
Also, a revamped Battle.net will be tested, offering new tools to make it easier for players to communicate with one another between games and manage all their Blizzard games with one login.
Blizzard’s contribution to Blizzardvision’s revenues (actually ActivisionBlizzard, but we know who’s more important) were mostly in the MMORPG category, which brought in $314 million during the quarter. Comparable results weren’t available since Activision and Blizzard didn’t merge until July 2008.
Overall, Blizzardvision’s financials grew from the prior year, thanks partly to a stronger U.S. dollar and other investments. The company, which also develops “Guitar Hero” and “Call of Duty,” reported net income of $189 million on $981 million in revenues. A year ago, it had income of $43 million on $325 million revenues. The year-ago numbers don’t include results of both companies. More numbers are listed HERE.
“We believe there continues to be growth in WoW in all regions but especially in China. Our first expansion launched eight months after it did here. We’re looking for a similar response when “Lich King” is launched there,” Morhaime said.
Morhaime barely addressed the changes in China, announced last month. Blizzard awarded NetEase.com a three-year contract to manage WoW in China. Previously, The9 had been its China partner since WoW launched in that country in 2005.
“Consoliding all games with one operator will help us operate more efficiently and put us in a better position to capture the growth in the market,” he said.
Morhaime, when asked, said Chinese players may experience some down time as Blizzard transitions to NetEase. More details for players in China is available at wow163.com.
“We’re eager to get that in the hands of people as soon as possible,” he said.
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