New World of Warcraft Novel, “Yrel: Heart of Draenor” to be Written by Tara Gilesbie

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Developers, Blizzard Licensed Products Line Up, Blizzard Products News, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft Pocket Book Excerpts, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Update: April Fools’ Day – April 1, 2014
However, a real Yrel short-story may be in the works

I’ve been waiting quite a while for the NDA to wear off on this. I am proud to announce, in a BlizzPlanet Exclusive, the next World of Warcraft novel, World of Warcraft: Yrel: Heart of Draenor! Just as World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde had a writer new to the Warcraft franchise behind it, so will Heart of Dreanor: the famous Tara Gilesbie!

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In the press details I was given by Micky Neilson, Lead Story Developer for Blizzard Entertainment, he explained this novel will bridge the gap between Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor by giving readers a look into one of the expansion’s lead characters, Yrel. The story will chronicle Yrel’s journey from a simple priestess at Karabor, to her witnessing the formation of the Iron Horde, ultimately leading to her first encounter with the player character (done similarly in Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War).

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Ms. Gilesbie,” Micky said in regards to the upcoming novel. He also mentioned we may be seeing a forbidden romance in Yrel’s adventures which will heavily affect her role in Warlords of Draenor.

He also clarified that, following another of Shadow of the Horde‘s traditions, Heart of Draenor will be a darker and more mature fare than most Warcraft novels. Due to this, I’ve had to censor the excerpt provided later on in the article slightly for the BlizzPlanet readership.

“We’ve seen how massively popular the pairing of Jaina and Kalecgos was in Tides of War, and Thrall and Aggra presented in-game is still considered one of our best works here at Blizzard. So it was natural to have another unique and well written romance. I wont’ say who catches Yrel’s eye, but I’ll give you a hint: his dad’s the leader of the Iron Horde.”

Just imagine the conflict that’s going to come from that! It looks like Yrel won’t just be Warcraft’s Joan of Arc, but perhaps their Romeo and Julliet as well?

As for our newest Warcraft author, Tara Gilesbie is a world renowned writer who, like many in today’s age, got her start on the internet. She is best known for her novella My Immortal, a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead-style take on the popular Harry Potter series of books; which chronicles Harry’s adventures through the eyes of a mentally challenged vampire student attending Hogwarts. Originally published for free, the full work can be read here if you want to get a taste of Gilesbie’s unique writing style before Heart of Draenor is out.

While I could not reach Tara herself, I was given this quote from her: “I m sooooo eksited to work on dis story! Fangz (geddit becuz Im Goffik) Blizzurd for givin me the change to work with u guys1″

I was also given a very short excerpt from Yrel: Heart of Draenor, detailing a scene between Yrel and her forbidden lover. As this is a spoiler, I’ll leave it under the read-more.

Patches, Delays, and Legends

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Another Hearthstone patch hit a few days ago, guided by development lasers focused entirely on Jaina and her delay tactics. The changes are simple, a delay on the delay – Cone of Cold, Frost Nova, and Blizzard all had their costs increased by 1. A bit more room to maneuver against the inevitable Pyroblast.

And Open Beta is delayed until January 2014. Everyone who opted in the closed before December 16th should be playing and complaining about decks with six legendaries stuffed inside. The closed beta opt ins close January 7th, open beta should follow soon after. The major delays have come from the nitty gritty stuff – server infrastructure and hardware. Settling up the servers, databases and hardware takes time and planning. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Be patient and Hearthstone will be out sooner than you expect.

More top ranked players, too. There’s been some fluctuation and rank swapping with the new round. A few of them have streams, too, so watching and learning from the best is a possible path to success. They lack the sheer numbers of Trump, Kripp, Hafu, and the other big name players so they’re more able to answer questions and interact with the audiences. No disrespect intended to the celebrities but the reward of fame is also its price. Consider spreading the Twitch.tv love around. I’m considering starting a channel for myself and give you fellow card slingers another way to waste time.

I also got my first 9 win arena streak the day before the 12 win cap was released. As much as I dislike Garrosh, the warrior and I seem to speak the same language. Rushes, injuries, weapons, sacrifices. Thrall and I don’t, despite my desperate attempts to make it work. Maybe I’m more Warsong than Frostwolf. Regardless, I know I hate Anduin.

See you in game!

Activision Blizzard Q3 2013 Finacial Results Conference Call – Mike Morhaime Transcript

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, BlizzCon 2013, Diablo 3 News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

The Activision Blizzard Third Quarter Financial conference call took place on November 6th, 2013 at 1:30pm PDT.

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Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said: “Our third-quarter results exceeded our expectations, and we are able to raise our outlook for 2013 net revenues and earnings per share.

Robust continued engagement with our core franchises drove digi tal revenue, which constituted a majority of all revenue. This quarter demonstrates that games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft engage and entertain our fans year round.”

Kotick added, “We recently released new titles in two of the most popular franchises in entertainment, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Skylanders SWAP Force. We are thrilled by the quality of those games and we are excited to show what we can do with them on next-generation consoles in the coming weeks. We are also in the process of a beta launch for our first major free-to-play game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

However, we continue to believe that the fourth quarter this year presents a unique and challenging landscape due to increased competition and uncertainties surrounding the console transition.

We are confident in our ability to navigate these challenges successfully, particularly in light of the recent completion of our transaction with Vivendi and the focus and flexibility provided by our return to independence.”

  • As of September 30, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft remains the #1 subscription-based MMORPG, with approximately 7.6 million subscribers.
  • In North America, Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm® was the #1 PC game for the first nine months of 2013.

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Morhaime: Q3 was an eventful quarter for Blizzard. We launched our first console game in many years with Diablo III. We also announced an expansion pack for Diablo III — Reaper of Souls.

Additionally, beta testing for Hearthstone kicked off and we released significant content update for World of Warcraft.

All of this activity has netted out to a strong quarter where we ended higher in net revenue and operating income versus Q2 mostly due to the Diablo III console launch on September.

Revenues and income were down year over year — as expected — due to the successful launch of Mists of Pandaria and the ongoing sales of Diablo III during the same quarter last year.

Going into more specific details with World of Warcraft, we’re very pleased with the response to Siege of Orgrimmar — the massive content update we released in September. This update included a huge new raid dungeon with major story elements, as well as a new area to explore and features that improved the game’s accessibility.

Flexible rates now allow groups of variable size to participate in the end-game raiding dungeons. Meanwhile, the Proving Grounds feature trains players to improve their play in specific roles, preparing them to participate in end-game content. Player response to the content has been good, and we saw increased engagement that has contributed to maintaining relatively stable subscribership quarter-over-quarter. We’ll continue to invest heavily in World of Warcraft to deliver frequent, high-quality content to our players.

Moving on to Diablo III, we are pleased with the response to the games launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Lifetime sell-through of the game across all platforms has reached over 14 million copies, and reviews have been very positive about how the game plays on console. Much of the praise has been centered on changes we made to the loot system and our decision to keep the auction house off of the console platform. Players and critics alike have noted that these changes have resulted in a more fun and satisfying game experience. That reaction factored in our decision to remove the auction house from the PC version of Diablo III effective next March, which players have also responded very positively to.

We’re building upon those design philosophies for loot and incorporating them into Reaper of Souls, the Diablo III expansion pack — which is coming for PC and PS4 in 2014.

In addition to the new loot system, Reaper of Souls will include an additional player class, the Crusader, and more gameplay modes for the endgame to keep players engaged. The reaction to Reaper of Souls at Gamescom was very positive, and we are looking forward to revealing more about the game at BlizzCon.

It was also a busy quarter for Hearthstone, our free-to-play digital card game for PC and iPad based on the Warcraft universe. In Hearthstone, players build decks of cards that feature familiar spells and creatures from World of Warcraft, and battle against each other using the cards. Players can collect cards simply by playing or by purchasing digital packs. They can also purchase entries into a special competitive mode of play called The Arena in exchange for either in-game currency or a small fee.

We’ve seen a great response from the community with the closed beta test, which kicked off in August. Hearthstone quickly became one of the most popular streaming games on Twitch, and we have been expanding the beta test to encompass more regions and a wider group of players. We’re continuing to work on polishing the game as we drive towards open beta testing.

Rounding out our big announcements since the last call is the name change of Blizzard All-Stars to Heroes of the Storm, which is our take on free-to-play hero brawlers. We’ve done an extensive internal test on Heroes over the past several months, and as the game has evolved, we felt it was appropriate to change the name to something more fitting of the gameplay experience.

We’re looking forward to sharing more details about Heroes at BlizzCon, which is taking place this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. This is another sold-out show, with more than 20,000 attendees coming to Anaheim from more than 40 different countries.

Our global community will also follow along through DIRECTV, online pay-per-view on blizzcon.com and partner broadcast in other regions. We will be showcasing our biggest pipeline of games ever and showing our appreciation for our community through contests, meet-and-greets and of course, major eSports spectacles.

The World of Warcraft Arena invitational and the global grand finals of the StarCraft II World Championship Series will be taking place, along with an invitational tournament for Hearthstone, featuring popular community personalities.

All of us at Blizzard can’t wait to get back to BlizzCon and connect with our players. We hope you’ll join us there or follow along online with a virtual ticket available online at blizzcon.com.

We are looking forward to celebrating a shared passion of gaming with our players, hearing their feedback on our newest game content and taking that energy and knowledge back to work as we drive towards an exciting 2014 for Blizzard.

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How many minions again?

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone provides a useful graph of information when constructing an Arena deck: the mana curve. It’s an invaluable chart that can help smooth out the transition from early to mid to late game, fix problems as you construct a deck (too many high costs cards, or no beefy minions at all). Certain deck strategies can subvert the curve or ignore it entirely, but most decks and their players watch it carefully. I’d like the mana curve added when making custom decks in Play mode because of how useful it is. I consider its absence an oversight and it hopefully appears later.

I’d like to see another graph added to Hearthstone’s deck construction: a minion versus spell chart. While not as vital as the mana curve, displaying a bit of info about the number of minions in your deck as well as the number of spells would be helpful. A mana curve taken at face value can be deceptive because it doesn’t distinguish between card types. Lots of cost spells may keep your curve smooth but a lack of early minions may leave you vulnerable. It’s not too troublesome to count the totals or track them externally but implementing such a feature seems like a natural addition to an already robust and informative UI.

As long as I’m talking about things I’d like added to a free game, how about showing cards by type? Neutrals and class cards, basics and experts, commons, rares, epics, and legendaries. The growing list of charts could be situated across from the deck list, or a button could be added next to the deck list to flip it over and display the information. Swap, swap.

These are minor suggestions from an immensely satisfied customer, however. The game is kinetic and fun, the cards well illustrated and expansive. I’d still really like banter from the heroes to each other. There are potentially more boards in the works, which is great, but I hate waiting for them. Personally I’d love to see an Undercity board with rats scurrying across the play area, maybe dodging cards. And anything from Northrend.

What about you? Any locales you’re waiting for? Any information you’d like Hearthstone to display?

Update: I am a fool. The mana curve is available in constructed: hover over a hero’s image and you can see your current curve.

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Ben Brode Doesn’t Flip Coins

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Games News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Well, he probably does. Who doesn’t? But he’s careful and doesn’t leave the construction of Hearthstone to chance and whimsy. In a previous column I discussed the issues with the coin that most players are stirred up about. It’s a hot button issue – the coin has proponents and detractors. Hearthstone’s forums are brimming with threads discussing, at length, the impact of that little card.

But none carry as much weight as the words of Mr. Brode. In a post on the Hearthstone forums Brode details the history behind its inception, the logic for its purpose, and the hard numbers of the coin’s actual significance in games. With Hearthstone’s systems closely monitored by developers the figures aren’t amorphous, specific samples from a handful of games but rather a complete and exhaustive data set. And they provide some incredible insight into the coin’s impact.

Across all leagues, 52.2% of wins are for the player who goes first. In master league, where the giants fight, that imbalance shrinks to 50.4%. The advantage of going first isn’t insurmountable and the coin seems to be fulfilling its role as a field leveler. The passionate responses it stirs may be more related to its potential for momentum shifting: dropping a heavy minion a turn before it’s expected or delivering a powerful combo attack (as has been done to me with frustrating regularity).

Arena statistics aren’t provided, but further in the thread a player asks and Mr. Brode answers. The results are similar to standard mode, a slight advantage to going first but it isn’t significant. The coin is here to stay. I’m happy the developers provided numbers about the coin’s use and impact during a game rather than simply stating a position and expecting the players to live with it. The statistics and comments may not convince everyone but it convinces me. It’s not a game breaker, just a light touch on the scale.

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That Contentious Coin

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Merchandise, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

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Hearthstone games are quick. With steady mana, limited defenses, and a heavy slant on offensive power Hearthstone’s contests of cards are about early advantages and constant presses. Laying minions often and early is a great way to stress your opponent – even big guys can only attack once. There are ways to clear the board, like flamestrike and lightning storm, but they’re more common for some heroes than others. This isn’t necessarily an issue; the heroes are designed around the classes of WoW (perhaps vice versa) and their spells are drawn from well known class abilities.

The issue, at least a common point of controversy, is the Coin. On its face the card doesn’t appear to give a significant advantage. The player going second is given a zero cost spell that grants one mana for one turn. It doesn’t sound like huge boon. At best, the second player can put down a minion or cast a spell a turn before the mana actually accrues or play a combination of cards for great effect. The bonus mana isn’t really a problem. Smart players, or players fortunate enough to have a good hand of cards, can take advantage of it and turn the tide or press a advantage further toward victory. The problem is that the Coin currently counts as a spell.

That makes sense. It is a spell. It has a spell effect and it certainly isn’t a minion. But the zero cost spell for the second player provides a secondary, and arguably more powerful, bonus. Cards that take advantage of spells cast that turn are boosted because of an arbitrary turn order, not because clever deck construction. The Coin’s advantage is supposed to be a one time mana bonus. The mechanical advantages for player turn order are already present: player one is one mana ahead, player two is one card ahead. The Coin is a nice bit of gravy; going first is quite an advantage and the bonus mana can switch the momentum. Any other advantage it provides is superfluous. It’s effect as the 31st card is too potent.

The Coin shouldn’t be a spell, it should just be the Coin. A card all of its own.

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Hearthstone Closed Beta Starts Today!

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Products News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Travis: It began with a teaser from Zeriyah’s twitter: a mysterious video of a cake, frosted with a Warcraft Hearthstone, and the word “Beta” scrawled on the side. The excitement was almost palpable. Hype Train coming.

And then suddenly, the Americas closed beta started. The forums appeared and expanded, invites began, and new players outside of Blizzard offices began to duel each other. As it is a closed beta, invites are being sent only to those who opt in. Opting in is easy and done from a potential player’s Battle.net account.

By far the highlight from the Beta announcement, aside from the announcement itself, is the lack of an NDA. Players can, and are encouraged to, do livestreams of their games and record videos, post screenshots and write long, winding articles about the mechanics.

Check those inboxes – invites are coming. Lok’tar ogar!

Medievaldragon: The Blizzplanet staff is slowly getting into Hearthstone closed beta. I am going to share with you the installation process. As soon as I downloaded the beta installer client, something that totally got me off-guard is that upon launching the client, the Battle.net launcher automatically kicked in to take over the download process. The beta file is around 500MB by the way.

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HORDE BIAS! A Red Shirt Guy Editorial on the “Faction Bias” Arguments

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Developers, Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Product Reviews, Cataclysm, Lore, Novels, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft - Races, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

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Hi readers and welcome to my first editorial type article. With the release of Patch 5.4’s trailer (see it here if you haven’t already), the debate on whether or not Blizzard is biased towards the Horde in content development has risen again. Its a subject that really came to a head with the release of Cataclysm, enough so that Blizzard actually had Dave Kosak make a blog post, “Dev Watercooler: Faction Favoritism“. It was very negatively received, and in fact was seen by many as further proof there was faction bias favoring the Horde enough to be detrimental to the Alliance among Blizzard’s developers. So, does this faction favoritism really exist? Is Blizzard ignoring half their playerbase because they can’t muster the effort to to create content for a faction they don’t like? Or is this all overblown outcry from WoW’s notoriously unpleaseable fanbase?

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Hearthstone at Gamescom 2013

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Anxious to play Hearthstone yourself? Are the Twitch specials and Fireside duels not satisfying your curiosity and anticipation? If you’re able to attend Gamescom this year, you’re in luck.

Blizzard and the Hearthstone developers will be hosting the first public playable versions of the game in Germany this year. Blizzard will host several sessions of Hearthstone during the trade fair. Hearthstone’s lead artist Ben Thompson will also be showing off his artistic talents with live drawing and sketching. There are also quizzes, Q&As, developer signings, and a Warcraft dance contest.

Check Blizzards’ complete schedule to find the events that pique your interest: Schedule for Gamescom 2013.

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ATVI – Activision Blizzard 2013 Q2 Financial Results Conference Call

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Activision Blizzard celebrated today their 2013 Second Quarter financial results conference call where Bob Kotick addressed their independence from Vivendi after purchasing their shares.

activision-blizzard-logoBobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “We are pleased with our second-quarter results, which confirm the preliminary results we released last week when we announced our transaction with Vivendi. The agreement we reached with Vivendi will make us an independent company and should deliver meaningful earnings per share accretion to our shareholders. Our solid performance across our franchises and strong digital sales, including continued significant growth this quarter in our Call of Duty® downloadable content business over the previous year, validate our belief that we will enter this new period of independence in a position to leverage the flexibility and focus that it provides.”

On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced that it reached an agreement under which the company will acquire approximately 429 million company shares and certain tax attributes from Vivendi, in exchange for approximately $5.83 billion in cash, or $13.60 per share acquired before taking into account any future benefit from these tax attributes. In a related transaction, ASAC II LP, an investment vehicle led by CEO Bobby Kotick and Activision Blizzard Co-Chairman Brian Kelly, will purchase approximately 172 million company shares from Vivendi for approximately $2.34 billion in cash, or $13.60 per share. Following the completion of the transactions, which are expected to close by the end of September 2013, Vivendi will no longer be the majority shareholder, but will retain a stake of approximately 83 million shares, or approximately 12%.

 

Main Highlights

  • World of Warcraft subscribers: 7.7 Million
  • Next-Gen MMO Titan is likely to be a non-subscription based MMO
  • Titan staff was moved to World of Warcraft, Diablo III and Blizzard All-Stars

Transcript

The second quarter was a relatively quiet quarter when compared against last quarter, which included the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm launch; and Q2 2012 when we launched Diablo III. We’ve been making great progress on Diablo III console and Hearthstone along with other ongoing projects, which I’ll discuss shortly.

Starting off with World of Warcraft, we ended the quarter with about 7.7 million subscribers worldwide, with the declines split about evenly between East and West. The most recent content update in late May has had a positive impact on stabilizing the churn rate in both regions.

Our next major content update, “Siege of Orgrimmar” is currently in the public testing phase. This update includes a massive new raid dungeon and a new questing area, as well as some new features. Proving grounds is a way for players to learn the skills they need for in-game contents and flexible raids allows groups of varying sizes to enjoy in-game rating. This will make it easier for players to experience compelling in-game contents with their friends. In addition to sustaining engagement for existing players, we believe these features can help make the transition back to the game more compelling for returning players as well. We look forward to releasing this update in the coming weeks.

Before I get into the other game updates, I want to say a few words about our unannounced project codenamed Titan. We’re in the process of selecting a new direction for the project and re-envisioning what we want the game to be. And while we can’t talk about the details yet, it is unlikely to be a subscription-based MMORPG. I also want to reiterate that there has not been an official announced or projected release date. What I can say is that the commitment to quality has always been at the core of Blizzard values. And we’ve gone through this type of iterative development process several times in the past on the way to creating genre-defining games. As we continue our assessment, we have shifted some of the resources from the team to our other franchises, including World of Warcraft and Blizzard All-Stars, which we believe will add immense value to those projects.

On the Diablo III side, we announced a September 3rd date for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions to the game. Our showing at E3 was a great opportunity to reinsure ourselves to the console gaming audience. The development team has done a lot of work to tailor Diablo III for a living room experience and these subtle changes have been very well-received by the press. We’ll be sharing more Diablo-related news at GamesCom later this month.

Moving on to StarCraft II. We just launched Heart of the Swarm in China a couple of weeks ago and in these early stages have seen a jump in concurrency in the region. In addition, our year-long StarCraft II World Championship Series is currently in its second season with the season finals taking place later this month at GamesCom in Germany.

We’ve also been putting a lot of focus on Blizzard All-Stars, our upcoming free-to-play online game. Action RTS games have become increasingly popular over the years. As we have in the past with games like World of Warcraft and the original Diablo, we’re looking to put our own spin on this genre and challenge some of the existing design paradigms. We’ve reached a significant internal milestone with Blizzard All-Stars going into wider internal testing and we’ll have more to say about the game later this year.

Rounding out our announced game projects is Hearthstone, our new free-to-play digital collectible card game. Hearthstone will launch initially on Windows and Mac PC followed by iPad soon after. We’ve made great progress polishing the game through internal testing and will be reaching the external test phase very soon. Our promotions in the last quarter, which included several live streamed game-play demos have generated great budge for the game since we revealed it at PAX East in March. Not only will this be our first game on iPad, it will also be the first time in a very long time that we have announced a game and launched it within the same year. This reflects the philosophy behind a small team of Blizzard veterans developing Hearthstone to create Blizzard-quality games on a smaller scale.

Looking ahead, we have BlizzCon coming up on November 8 and 9 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The show will be a good one with the latest Blizzard news, hands-on with games and development and of course, the global finals for our StarCraft II World Championship Series. We hope to see you there or following along via the online stream or on DirecTV.

As we enter the back half of 2013, what we’re showing at Blizzard is a broadening of our gaming portfolio. Just 3 years ago, we had one active game. Moving into the rest of 2013 and beyond, we will have several active and vibrant games across 3 major franchises on multiple platforms and with different business models. We’ll continue to work hard on creating epic game experiences for our players and look forward to delivering those experiences in a variety of ways.

 

Q&A

Brian J. Pitz: With respect to the wild sub declines, I think last quarter was more Asia based, now it seems to be ramping up more on the West. Can you just give us a little more color there on the split?

Morhaime: Concerning subscription decline, in aggregate in Q2, we did see a smaller decline than we saw in Q1, and I think it’s very important to note the impact that our content updates have had since the most recent update, mid-May. We have seen a very positive impact on the churn rate, and that’s across both regions.

Brian J. Pitz: Got it. And just one more follow-up on WoW. There’s kind of been rumors in and out of the press on a potential movie set with the WoW theme. Any updates there?

Morhaime: I don’t have any updates other than to say that we are continuing to work with Legendary Pictures. Duncan Jones has been selected as the director, who has been actively working on a movie, and we continue to be very excited about it.

Colin A. Sebastian : In the scenario that WoW were to continue declining, I’m wondering whether your priority, ultimately, would be to protect profitability of the franchise or to continue spending on potential growth initiatives?

Morhaime: Our priority is to continue delivering great contents to our players. We feel the WoW continues to be the top most compelling, possibly multiplayer online role-playing game available, and we think it still has a very long life ahead of itself. We think that over time, we have seen players come and go and return to World of Warcraft, and we recognize that there’s a lot that we can do to make the experience of coming back to World of Warcraft and the transition back into the game and meeting up with your friends much easier than it currently. And so I think that’s a big opportunity for us.

 

Brian J. Pitz (Jefferies LLC, Research Division)
Colin A. Sebastian (Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division)

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Activision Blizzard Second Quarter 2013 Financial Results Conference Announced

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Activision Blizzard announced the upcoming Second Quarter 2013 Financial results will take place on August 1, 2013.

activision-blizzard-logoSANTA MONICA, Calif. –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) intends to release its second quarter 2013 results after the close of the market on Thursday, August 1, 2013 . In conjunction with this release, Activision Blizzard will host a conference call that will be broadcast over the Internet.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

1:30 p.m. Pacific Time ( 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time )

To listen to the call, please log onto:

http://investor.activision.com/events.cfm

Or dial:

U.S. and Canada : 888-339-3466

International: 719-325-2309

Passcode: 3585535

Anyone planning to dial in to the call should RSVP to Pam Beaver at:

E-mail: PBeaver@activision.com

 

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Previous Activision Blizzard Conference Call Transcripts

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Activision Blizzard Announces Transformative Purchase of Shares from Vivendi and New Capital Structure

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, World of Warcraft News

Activision Blizzard purchased 85% of shares from majority-shareholder Vivendi for $8.2 Billion. The company continues to be a public shareholder entity. No changes should affect Blizzard Entertainment.

This significant purchase makes Activision Blizzard full owner of itself. Vivendi now owns only 12% of Activision, Inc. according to TheWrap

activision-blizzard-logoActivision Blizzard Announces Transformative Purchase of Shares from Vivendi and New Capital Structure Company to Buy Back Approximately 429 Million Shares from Vivendi for $5.83 Billion. Investor Group Led By CEO Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly to Separately Purchase Approximately 172 Million Activision Blizzard Shares from Vivendi for $2.34 Billion New Capital Structure Expected to Drive Meaningful Earnings-Per-Share Accretion.

Activision Blizzard Reports Preliminary Second Quarter Results

SANTA MONICA, Calif. –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) (the “Company”), a global leader in interactive entertainment, announced today that it reached an agreement under which it will acquire from Vivendi ( Euronext Paris : VIV) approximately 429 million Company shares and certain tax attributes, in exchange for approximately $5.83 billion in cash, or $13.60 per share acquired before taking into account the future benefit from these tax attributes. In a simultaneous transaction, ASAC II LP , an investment vehicle led by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly , to which they have personally committed $100 million combined, separately will purchase approximately 172 million Company shares from Vivendi for approximately $2.34 billion in cash, or $13.60 per share.

Following the completion of the transaction, Activision Blizzard will be an independent company with the majority of its shares owned by the public. The Company will be led by Bobby Kotick as Chief Executive Officer and Brian Kelly as Chairman. Vivendi will no longer be the majority shareholder, but will retain a stake of 83 million shares or approximately 12%. ASAC II LP—the investor group which, in addition to Kotick and Kelly, includes Davis Advisors, Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. , Tencent, as well as one of the largest global institutional investors—will own a stake of approximately 24.9%.

Activision Blizzard expects that its new outstanding share count and capital structure (which will include approximately $1.4 billion of net debt) will result in expected pro forma 2013 earnings-per-share (EPS) accretion of between 18% and 29% on a GAAP basis and between 23% and 33% on a non-GAAP basis.

Bobby Kotick , CEO of Activision Blizzard , said, “These transactions together represent a tremendous opportunity for Activision Blizzard and all its shareholders, including Vivendi . We should emerge even stronger—an independent company with a best-in-class franchise portfolio and the focus and flexibility to drive long-term shareholder value and expand our leadership position as one of the world’s most important entertainment companies. The transactions announced today will allow us to take advantage of attractive financing markets while still retaining more than $3 billion cash on hand to preserve financial stability.”

Mr. Kotick continued, “Our successful combination with Blizzard Entertainment five years ago brought together some of the best creative and business talent in the industry and some of the most beloved entertainment franchises in the world, including Call of Duty® and World of Warcraft®. Since that time, we have generated over $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and returned more than $4 billion of that to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. We are grateful for Vivendi’s partnership through this period, and we look forward to their continued support.”

Activision Blizzard will fund the acquisition with the combination of approximately $1.2 billion of domestic cash on hand and approximately $4.6 billion of debt proceeds, net of fees and upfront interest, accessed through the capital markets and bank financing. The Company has received committed financing for the transaction from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan . The transaction is expected to close by the end of September 2013 , subject to customary closing conditions.

A special committee of independent directors was formed to represent the Company in negotiating and evaluating the transactions.

Please see the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K being filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the exhibits thereto for further information about the terms of the transactions.

Activision Blizzard’s financial advisor on the transaction is J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and its legal counsel is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP . The Special Committee’s financial advisor is Centerview Partners and its legal counsel is Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz . ASAC II LP’s financial advisor is Allen & Company LLC and its legal counsel is Sullivan & Cromwell LLP .

Preliminary Second Quarter Results and Full-Year Outlook

For the second quarter, Activision Blizzard expects to report GAAP net revenue of approximately $1.05 billion and Non-GAAP net revenue of approximately $608 million , with GAAP earnings per diluted share of $0.28 and Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share of approximately $0.08 . In addition, the Company will announce full second quarter results on August 1, 2013 and hold its regularly scheduled conference call for analysts and investors at that time.

For the quarter, Activision Blizzard was the #1 independent publisher in North America and Europe combined, including accessory packs and figures, with the #1 and #2 best-selling titles year-to-date— Skylanders Giants™ and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.¹ Additionally, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft® remained the world’s #1 subscription-based MMORPG, ending the quarter with approximately 7.7 million subscribers.²

The Company raised its full-year 2013 GAAP net revenue outlook to $4.31 billion and its earnings per diluted share outlook to $0.77 , up from its prior net revenue outlook of $4.22 billion and earnings per diluted share outlook of $0.73 . Additionally, the Company affirmed its full-year 2013 Non-GAAP net revenue outlook of $4.25 billion and earnings per diluted share outlook of $0.82 . These full-year outlook numbers do not yet account for any benefit of earnings per share accretion from the announced transaction.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

Activision Blizzard will host a conference call and live webcast on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. ET , 2:30 p.m. Paris time, 1:30 p.m. London time to discuss this announcement. The company welcomes listeners to the call live by dialing (866) 953-6860 in the U.S. or (617) 399-3484 outside the U.S. using the passcode 14828517. The live webcast of the call can be accessed at www.activisionblizzard.com.

For those unable to listen to the live conference call, an audio replay of the call will be available through August 9, 2013 and can be accessed by calling (888) 286-8010 in the U.S. or (617) 801-6888 outside the U.S. and using the passcode: 30609761. In addition, a webcast replay also will be archived on the Investor Relations section of Activision Blizzard’s website.

 
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Activision Blizzard Q1 2013 Financial Results Conference Call – Transcript

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Bob Kotick and Mike Morhaime spoke before the shareholders on Wednesday, May 8 to discuss the Activision Blizzard Q1 2013 financial results. Some key details were revealed in this quarter:

  • World of Warcraft subscription dropped 14% down to 8.3 million subscribers worldwide.

  • Diablo III (PS3) will be launched later this year.

  • Blizzard is developing new titles (plural) with new business models, including Hearthstone and Blizzard All-Stars.

  • 1.1 Million viewers watched eSport matches during the Heart of the Swarm launch

  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft enters beta testing this summer for PC/Mac.

  • Hearthstone will be released in 2013

  • Heartstone for iPad will be released shortly after the PC/Mac launch

I have to note that Mike Morhaime talked about each video game, paused to mention BlizzCon, and then talked about Blizzard All-Stars and the Next-Gen MMO.

It may be nothing, but it’s odd to not mention these last two along with the other games, but chose to mention them right after talking about BlizzCon. Hint?

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Robert A. Kotic – Activision Blizzard CEO

Robert A. Kotick: Activision Publishing’s Skylanders was the leading video game franchise in both North America and Europe, including toys and accessories. Call of Duty was the #2 franchise in North America and Europe combined. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft remains the largest subscription-based MMORPG in the world. However, during the quarter, subscribership declined by approximately 1.3 million subscribers, roughly 14%, and we ended the quarter with approximately 8.3 million subscribers.

Though the majority of our subscriber declines occurred in the East, where we have more subscribers and lower revenue per subscriber, we saw declines in the West as well. And while we do believe further declines are likely and we expect to have fewer subscribers at year end than we do today, World of Warcraft remains one of the most successful franchises in the history of entertainment.

It’s important to note that the nature of online games has changed, and with the environment becoming far more competitive, especially with free-to-play games. To address this, we’re working to release new content more frequently to keep our players engaged longer and make it easier for lapsed players to come back into the game.

We believe in the long-term value of this franchise and will continue to commit substantial resources to World of Warcraft.

During the quarter, Blizzard also launched its expansion to the long-standing StarCraft franchise, with StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. The expansion pack launched to strong critical response and was the #1 title for the PC in the quarter.

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Blizzard Entertainment has already launched StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and will launch Diablo III for the PlayStation 3 later this year.

In addition, Blizzard is also developing new titles with new business models, including Hearthstone and Blizzard All-Stars. During the remainder of the year, we’ll continue to invest in our established franchises, invest selectively in new opportunities and to manage our costs very carefully.

Mike Morhaime – Blizzard Entertainment President

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Mike Morhaime: On the product side, Q1 was an exciting time for Blizzard as we announced 2 new games: Hearthstone, a collectible card game on Windows, Mac and iPad; and Diablo III for PlayStation 3 and 4. These games not only bring Blizzard into the mobile and console spaces, but in the case of Hearthstone, also represent our first entry into free-to-play.

We ended March with $330 million in revenue, up 31% year-over-year and $135 million in operating income, up 52% from the same quarter last year. This increase was driven in large part by the launch of Heart of the Swarm, as we didn’t have a comparable launch in Q1 2012.

For World of Warcraft, we ended the March quarter at 8.3 million subscribers globally. While we saw declines in the West, the majority of the decline came from the East, which has historically seen greater volatility. Given a more competitive market and the length of time since the last expansion, we do expect further volatility this year.

Looking forward, our objective is to deliver new game content at a quicker pace to improve engagement. Our next content update will release later this month and we will continue to invest in additional updates and improvements to continue to evolve the game.

More specifically, we’re examining ways we can ease the transition back into the game for returning players. We’ve always seen players come and go from World of Warcraft. Smoothing out that transitional period is something we’re studying, as we adjust our approach to player behavior and preferences.

On the StarCraft II side, the highlight from last quarter was a successful launch of Heart of the Swarm. In partnership with popular community personalities, we hosted an unprecedented 21-hour global Internet broadcast to celebrate the launch of the game. More than 1.1 million viewers tuned in to this broadcast to see eSports’ show matches, interviews and community produced content.

By the end of the second day on the market, Heart of the Swarm had already sold 1.1 million copies. And then that weekend, more than 1.1 million viewers watched the first major Heart of the Swarm tournament at Major League Gaming’s Winter Championship.

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We’ve ridden that strong momentum into announcing this year’s StarCraft II World Championship Series, a global partnership between Blizzard and some of the biggest organizations in eSports. As a result of this partnership, world-class StarCraft II eSports can be viewed in prime time online throughout the world during the week. And StarCraft II is now available on Korean cable television 5 days a week. Viewership of the tournament has been consistently high and we look forward to continuing to improve the spectator experience over the course of the year leading up to the global finals at BlizzCon.

Moving on to Diablo III. We announced that the game would come to Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 and showcased the demo of the PS3 version at PAX East in March. Press on the PS3 version has been very positive, as we have put a lot of work into adapting the game to take advantage of the console platform’s strength. The controls and interface have been modified to suit consoles and the game will have local and online multiplayer capability. We recently announced pre-orders for the PS3 version, which is scheduled to ship later this year.

Rounding out our game updates, I’d like to talk about Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, our new free-to-play collectible card game for Windows, Mac and iPad. Players will be able to earn cards through game play and have the option to purchase card packs if they want to fill out their collection a little faster. Hearthstone is being developed by a small team at Blizzard, whose goal is to create a Blizzard-quality game experience at a smaller scale and scope than our typical project. At this early stage, it’s already clear that the team is achieving the depth and accessibility of the traditional Blizzard game with Hearthstone. Simply put, it’s a lot of fun.

The announcement at PAX East generated a great deal of interest and excitement from attendees. And thus far, we’ve received a massive response from players interested in trying out the beta. We expect the Windows and Mac versions of Hearthstone to go into public testing this summer and released later this year. The iPad version will be available for download shortly after.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that BlizzCon is coming this November to the Anaheim Convention Center. Ticket sales took place 2 weeks ago and our players enthusiastically claimed all available tickets in a matter of seconds. Details on virtual ticket sales will come at a later date.

As usual, we’ll be sharing the latest news on Blizzard games at the show. We’ll also be hosting the World Championship Series’ Global Finals and crowning a true StarCraft II world champion.

Overall, Blizzard has had a good start to a challenging 2013. We successfully launched StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and announced 2 new games that we feel will deliver Blizzard-quality experiences to new players on additional platforms. And there’s still more in the pipeline with our teams continuing to work on Blizzard All-Stars and our unannounced MMO.

With these new games and continued development on existing franchises, we hope to welcome even more gamers into the Blizzard community as we build towards the future.

 
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Activision Blizzard Q4 Financial Results Conference Call – Transcript

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

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The Activision Blizzard Q4 2012 financial results conference call took place today February 7th, 2013.

Mike Morhaime reported World of Warcraft has over 9.6 Million players as of December 31, 2012, and Diablo III has over 12 million players. Details about BlizzCon 2013 will surface later throughout the year.

Mike Morhaime: 2012 was a busy year for Blizzard Entertainment. We had some very ambitious goals, and successfully shipped 2 games: Diablo III and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. A third game, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, entered public beta testing in 2012, as well. On the year, Blizzard turned in strong financials with non-GAPP revenue of $1.6 billion and operating income of $717 million.

As of the end of the year, global subscribership for World of Warcraft added more than 9.6 million players, down slightly from the previous quarter. The majority of the decline came from China, while subscribership in the West was relatively more stable.

Looking ahead, the next major content update for World of Warcraft is already in testing and should reach players in the coming weeks. The development team continues to stick with the plan of more frequent content updates in the wake of the expansion launch, applying lessons that we’ve learned from past expansions.

Moving on to Diablo III, the launch of the game back in May had a tremendous impact on Blizzard and our community. Diablo III broke PC games sales records and as of the end of the year, had sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.

While this is a humbling achievement, we’re not satisfied with merely breaking sales records. The development teams have worked aggressively to update the games since the launch, adding new content, game systems, features and other improvements. A new update is in testing now, which will add dueling and other new content. Diablo is extremely important to Blizzard and we’ll continue to invest aggressively to support the franchise and its community.

On the StarCraft side, we’ve had a flurry of activity surrounding the game in the past few months. The Battle.net World Championship in Shanghai this past November was a great success. A big congratulations go out again to PartinG from South Korea who was crowned our global champion.

The Heart of the Swarm beta has also been ongoing since last year and the team continues to improve the game with player feedback. Over the past couple of months, we’ve announced numerous new online features for the game, unveiling the opening cinematic, and conducted a global press showcase.

The feedback from the community about the campaign and the new online features has been very positive and excitement continues to grow as we head into launch on March 12.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone that BlizzCon will make its return later this year. We’ll have more details announcements soon and we’re looking forward to reconnecting with our players this year to hear their thoughts, share the latest Blizzard news and share along with them at the Blizzard eSports Global Finals. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the show.

As we head into 2013, we’ll continue to work hard on our pipeline of games and deliver a great experience to our players.

 


Q&A

Brian J. Pitz (Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division): What do you think about the World of Warcraft and MMO community? Do you think the audience essentially remains strong and willing to play? Or do you think they’re essentially in need of a new game? Can you talk about, really, the fatigue factor both in the MMO, as well as with specifically for the game, and then, I just have a follow-up question.

Eric Hirshberg (Activision Blizzard Publishing Unit CEO): Well, we have seen an evolution in player behavior since the launch of Cataclysm. Players consume content quickly. There are more apps that come and go from the community, which is why we are targeting more frequent content updates. We are currently testing our second major update since Mists of Pandaria. I think that another thing to note, if you compare the months following Cataclysm and the months following Mists of Pandaria, the trailing months have been stronger with Mists. And we have seen an increase in engagement in all regions with the launch of Mists of Pandaria.

Neil A. Doshi (Citigroup Inc, Research Division): Mike, if you can give a little more color on the China market, it seems like there’s continuously intense competition there and most of the declines seem to come from the East. Is there anything you could do to be more competitive in that competitive market?

Mike Morhaime (Blizzard Entertainment CEO): Yes, so with respect to competition, we’ve always had competition for World of Warcraft in all markets. I think it’s fair to say that competition has increased, but I think it’s also important to point out that World of Warcraft is competing against, really, all forms of entertainment for leisure time. And so that just underscores the need for us to continue creating new content, to keep up engagements. With respect to China, in spite of the decline in subscribership, it is important to note that the engagement levels of the core items did increase with the launch of the expansions and I think that, that suggests increased engagement by our core players.

 

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Previous Activision Blizzard Conference Call Transcripts

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Activision Blizzard Q4 2012 Results Conference on Feb.7.2013

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

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Activision Blizzard announced the next Financial Results conference call will take place on February 7th, 2013 covering the rounds up of earnings and issues throughout the fourth quarter of 2012.

Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime is expected to discuss any relevant details of how World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and Diablo III held up throughout the quarter.

Speculation

It is very possible, but not guaranteed, that Mike Morhaime might reveal details of BlizzCon 2013. I predict an approximate timeframe when Blizzard expects tickets to be sold. (i.e. end of Quarter X, mid-/or end-[of X-month], etc.)

We might get an update on Blizzard All-Stars. With the release of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm in the horizon, Global Launch schedule might go live in the following weeks after the conference call.

Do you have your own predictions? Share them with the community.

activision-blizzard-logoActivision Blizzard to Release Fourth Quarter 2012 Results on February 7, 2013

SANTA MONICA, Calif. –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) intends to release its fourth quarter 2012 results after the close of the market on Thursday, February 7, 2013 . In conjunction with this release, Activision Blizzard will host a conference call that will be broadcast over the Internet.

Thursday, February 7, 2013
1:30 p.m. Pacific Time ( 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time )

To listen to the call, please log onto:

http://investor.activision.com/events.cfm

Or dial:
U.S. and Canada : 888-427-9414
International: 719-325-2165
Passcode: 3168482

Anyone planning to dial in to the call should RSVP to Pam Beaver at:

E-mail: PBeaver@activision.com

 

Previous Activision Blizzard Conference Call Transcripts

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Activision Blizzard Q3 Financial Results Conference Call – Nov.7.2012

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

The Activision Blizzard Q3 2012 Financial Results conference call was held on November 7th at 4:30pm EST / 1:30pm PDT.

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime talked briefly about the overall progress of Diablo III, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. He estimates StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is coming out on the first-half of 2013 (January-June range). BlizzCon 2013 and a Diablo III expansion were officially confirmed by Mike Morhaime at this conference as well. Listen to the recording below.

  • For the first nine months, Activision Blizzard was the #1 PC publisher in the U.S. and Europe. Additionally, for the third quarter, Blizzard Entertainment had two of the top five PC games with Diablo III and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

  • Since its release in May 2012, Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III was the #1 bestselling game in dollars and units on the PC in the U.S. and Europe.

  • On September 25, 2012, Blizzard Entertainment released World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and sold through approximately 2.7 million copies of the game as of its first week of release. Additionally, on October 2, 2012, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria was released in China, marking what the company believes to be the first time any game has officially released in China as part of a global launch.

  • As of September 30, 2012, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft remains the #1 subscription-based MMORPG, with more than 10 million subscribers.

  • Diablo III has already sold an excess of 10 million copies.

Listen to the Conference Call

This recording captures only the portion where Mike Morhaime talks about Blizzard Entertainment’s results.

Transcript

Mike Morhaime: The third quarter for Blizzard was a very successful one, thanks in large part to the launch of Mists of Pandaria at the end of September. As of the first week, more than 2.7 million copies sold through and subscribership had grown to over 10 million at the end of the quarter. We also launched the game in China just one week after the other regions, which as far as we are aware, is the first time any game has officially released in China as part of a global launch. Overall, it was a successful launch and we were very pleased with the reaction from players and critics.

The team worked hard to create a good variety of deeply engaged content for a wide range of players. The challenge mode and the new raids had been very appealing for hardcore players, while our other new features, such as the pet battle system have been popular with players across the board. This breadth of new content, combined with a vast amount of existing content in World of Warcraft, has resulted in the game that has a lot to offer for veterans, as well as newcomers to online gaming.

We’re looking forward to maintaining engagement by providing more frequent content updates. The first major update to Mists of Pandaria is already in public testing, with additional updates to follow. We have other initiatives planned for the holiday season that we hope will maintain momentum from the launch and continued growth in the community.

Moving on to Diablo III, the game continued to sell very well in the quarter, riding the momentum from its record-breaking launch in May. We’ve updated the game several times to add new features and these changes have been received well by the community. Next on the slate for Blizzard will be Heart of the Swarm, the first expansion to StarCraft II. With 6 million copies of Wings of Liberty sold to date, we have a large community of players eagerly awaiting the next installment of StarCraft.

Beta testing for Heart of the Swarm is well underway and the development team has been collecting great feedback from the community. Just last week, we made a major content update to the beta in order to test some important community features, which have been well-received by players. These features are designed to improve the social aspect, as well as the overall user experience for StarCraft players. We’re working hard towards a first-half 2013 launch for Heart of the Swarm.

We plan on closing out 2012 with one more major initiative, our Battle.net World Championship event, which will take place on November 17th and 18th in Shanghai, China. This event is the culmination of months of intense eSports competition, involving dozens of online tournaments and live events across five continents. The global finals will be very much like a World Cup of eSports with more than 60 top pro gamers in StarCraft II and World of Warcraft competing at the event. The sold out Battle.net World Championship will be broadcast online to a global audience. Live streams and information about the tournament can be found at http://www.battle.net/bwc.

In closing, we’re very pleased with the success of Mists of Pandaria and Diablo III continues to be a top seller on the PC chart. Heart of the Swarm is well on its way and we have other exciting projects in the pipeline. BlizzCon will be returning next year as well, adding to what will be a busy 2013 for Blizzard. We continue to build on our infrastructure for long-term growth and remain focused on creating high-quality content for all of our players around the world.

Douglas Creutz (Cowen and Company): You mentioned you’re at above 1 million peak concurrent users in China. I just wondered how that maybe compared to levels that you’ve hit after prior expansion launches. And then secondly, if you could just talk about where you are with DOTA All-Stars?

Morhaime: Let me start with the second one, which is Blizzard All-Stars is in development and we’re doing some great work. Some internal testing is underway. We’re doing a lot of things to experiment with gameplay and I don’t really have anything concrete to announce on this call, other than we’re very excited about the game. So with respect to China, I really don’t have anything to announce in terms of historical comparables. I think — other than to say that the engagement has increased with the launch of the expansion and we’re very happy with the reception.

Stephen Ju (Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division): The prior iterations of Diablo II expansion pack released about 1 year after the game itself came out. So wondering if you have anything you share in terms of whether or not you have a similar plan for Diablo III to keep your users engaged?

Morhaime: We do have a plan. An expansion planned for Diablo. I don’t have any timeline to talk about. I think that the most important thing for us always comes down to the quality of the expansion and the gameplay, and so that will be a big factor in terms of driving our schedule.

Slideshow

Original Post

Starting tomorrow, Activision Blizzard will broadcast its third-quarter financial results conference call. Previous conference calls have been informative, while at other times not as much.

There is a slight chance that Mike Morhaime might announce or provide an approximate internal target for the official StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm release date. Again, it is a possibility. Not guaranteed.

Micky Neilson was very cryptic on when StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm would be announced. Check out the New York Comic Con 2012 videos.

Keep your eyes on Blizzplanet for images and details of whatever might come from the lips of Mike Morhaime. If you are able to listen to the broadcast on Wednesday, make sure to read the press release for further details. This news post will be updated tomorrow.

Press Release

Activision Blizzard To Release Third Quarter 2012 Results On November 7, 2012

SANTA MONICA, Calif. , Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) intends to release its third quarter 2012 results after the close of the market on Wednesday, November 7 , 2012. In conjunction with this release, Activision Blizzard will host a conference call that will be broadcast over the Internet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
1:30 pm Pacific Time ( 4:30 pm Eastern Time )

To listen to the call, please log onto:
http://investor.activision.com/events.cfm

Or dial:
U.S. and Canada: 888-455-2265
International: 719-325-2481
Passcode: 7041557

Anyone planning to dial in to the call should RSVP to Pam Beaver at:

E-mail: PBeaver@activision.com

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Activision Blizzard Q1 2012 Financial Results Conference Call – Transcript

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

The Activision Blizzard Q1 2012 financial results conference call took place on May 8 at 1:30pm PST. Mike Morhaime discussed the latest progress with all Blizzard Entertainment’s upcoming projects.

Michael Morhaime

2012 is already shaping up to be a busy an exciting year at Blizzard, as we’re poised to deliver fresh content to our players in all 4, all of our major franchises. I’ll begin discussing our franchise updates with World of Warcraft.

At the end of Q1, global subscribership for World of Warcraft remained at 10.2 million. Maintaining our subscriber levels puts us in a great position as we drive toward the launch of Mists of Pandaria later this year. We opened the beta in late March and have rapidly expanded testing through a good portion of our community, including the 1.2 million players who signed up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

That program closed at the end of April and was very successful. Thus far, the feedback we’ve collected from the Mists of Pandaria beta tests have been great and development continues to move with a good pace as we open up more of the expansion content to players.

Mists of Pandaria will offer a brand-new continent to explore, a new player class, the monk, and more importantly, new game modes that will help World of Warcraft continue to engage its diverse audience. Scenarios will offer for a more relaxed way of playing at a group that’s less structured than traditional dungeons.

Challenge modes will give hard-core players and guilds new ways to compete with each other while earning cool rewards. And the pet battle system will offer players a light-hearted diversion from regular questing, vengeance, PvP.

On the Diablo front, we are less than a week away from launching. In preparation, we recently conducted an open beta stress test for Diablo III where anyone could download and try out the game. Response we got was huge with more than 2 million people worldwide participating in the open beta.

All the testing we’ve done over the past several months has been critical for us in polishing and preparing Diablo III for launch, particularly in the case with the auction house feature. We believe that having this convenient method for item trading integrated within the game will enhance the overall player experience.

Now all that’s left is to get the game into the hands of our players. Official midnight launch events for Diablo III have been announced for locations around the world, including the United States, Europe, Korea, Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

More than 8,000 retail locations across North America and Europe will also be open at midnight to celebrate the launch. Our players are clearly excited about Diablo III as it’s already set a Blizzard record for pre-orders, including those who signed up for the Annual Pass.

We look forward to providing a more definite sales update in the coming weeks. Most importantly, I’m proud of all the hard work that the team has put into Diablo III. This game has been a long time in the making, and our community has been supportive of us every step of the way. I’m confident that their patience will be rewarded next week when we launch our best Diablo game yet.

Meanwhile, the StarCraft 2 development team continues to forge ahead. The team has begun early testing on the arcade update that will make big improvements to the custom game experience on Battle.net. In fact, the team is already working with map creators in the StarCraft 2 community to update their maps and take full advantage of the new functionality.

We’re aiming to make the new arcade system live in the next coming months.

In addition to the work being done on arcade, development on Heart of the Swarm is going very well. Just a few weeks ago, we announced that we would offer a beta sneak peak of Heart of the Swarm to attend the use of Major League Gaming Spring Championship.

The event will take place at Anaheim Convention Center from June 8 to June 10. It won’t be too long after the MLG tournament that we’ll be ready to announce plans for our beta.

We’ll also be running our own U.S.A. national finals for our own StarCraft dual championship series event at the same event. This is just one of the many such events that we’re running with partners in countries around the world. Our goal is to identify and foster local heroes in various countries and have them compete in the StarCraft II global finals.

New developments from Korea also bode well for StarCraft II eSports. Just last week, we announced partnerships with the Korean eSports Association and OnGameNet, the cable television station, to create new StarCraft 2 leagues in Korea.

These new leagues will complement GOMTV’s successful global StarCraft II league, providing viewers with even more options for StarCraft II eSports. This news has created tremendous excitement in the StarCraft community as many of the popular pro-gamers from StarCraft I are preparing to compete in StarCraft II.

As I mentioned earlier, 2012 is already a busy year at Blizzard. With Diablo III launching next week, Mists of Pandaria well into beta testing and Heart of the Swarm close to beta, we are well positioned to deliver multiple titles in the coming year, which means Battle.net is going to be an even more exciting place to be for online gamers.