Blizzardvision (that’s Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment’s parent company, Activision Blizzard Inc.) said today that it did better than it thought it would during its latest quarter.
The company cited World of Warcraft as one of a small handful of games credited for the second quarter’s “overperformance,” even as the company financials showed Blizzard’s successful World of Warcraft revenues were roughly flat though still a big chunk of Blizzardvision’s revenues.
“During a challenging economic climate, Activision Blizzard grew its quarterly North American and European market share,” Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement.
But the big news is that Blizzard delayed the launch of StarCraft II to 2010. Kotick said that this is to coincicde with launch of new Battle.net online gaming service, which is expected to launch early next year. StarCraft, for non-Blizzard fans, is not a massively multiplayer game. But gamers will be able to play a handful of other players online via Battlenet, a service that first launched in 1996.
Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s CEO, elaborated further during Wednesday’s conference call with the game developer’s usual mantra: “We must get the games right before we release them,” he said, offering no apologies.
As many know, Blizzard has delayed games in the past, including the original Diablo in 1996. Diablo missed the Christmas shopping season and came out on the last day of that year. It’s gone on to sell millions and the company is now working on Diablo 3.
Blizzard itself issued a press release on the StarCraft II delay about 30 minutes after the corporate earnings release came out:
Today we announced that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will not be ready for release by the end of 2009. Over the past couple of weeks, it has become clear that it will take longer than expected to prepare the new Battle.net for the launch of the game. The upgraded Battle.net is an integral part of the StarCraft II experience and will be an essential part of all of our games moving forward. This extra development time will be critical to help us realize our vision for the service.
Our mission is to develop games that deliver an epic entertainment experience. As part of that commitment, we will always take as much time as needed to ensure that our games and services meet the expectations of our players and the standard for quality that we set for ourselves as developers. As we work to make Battle.net the premier online gaming destination, we’ll also continue to polish and refine StarCraft II, and we look forward to delivering a real-time strategy gaming experience worthy of the series’ legacy in the first half of 2010.
We will share more details about the beta, Battle.net, and StarCraft II’s launch in the future. Keep an eye on the official website at www.starcraft2.com for updates, and as always, thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support for StarCraft II and all of Blizzard Entertainment’s games.
Because of the delay, Blizzardvision lowered its projected revenues for 2009.
And for those wondering, the StarCraft II delay could bump into the release of a second big game next year, Diablo 3. But Morhaime wouldn’t confirm what other games, if any, will also launch in 2010.
Overall, the company made $195 million on revenues of $1.038 billion during its second quarter, which ended June 30. Since Activision merged with Blizzard in July 2009, the year-ago financial results do not include Blizzard’s contribution.
However, the company broke out its multiplayer game segment, which consists mainly of the lucrative World of Warcraft subscription fees. The MMOG segment made $324 million during the second quarter, which was 31 percent of all company game revenues. That’s only slightly up from the first quarter, when MMOGs brought in $314 million.
But the MMOG business as part of the company’s overall game revenues is shrinking. In 2008, Blizzardvision’s MMOG revenues were $1.15 billion or 38 percent of total game revenues. Last year’s figures include momentum from the company’s latest WoW update, the Wrath of the Lich King, which launched in October.
Morhaime also did not say how many World of Warcraft subscribers there are. Last quarter, he said there were 11.5 million. But during the quarter, the company lost a chunk of users as its WoW operations in China were disrupted. Because of this, WoW had no players in China at the end of the second quarter. Blizzard switched its Chinese distributor to NetEase.com and the two announced on July 16 that the game is ready to relaunch pending approvals from the Chinese government.
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