Online trumps retail in Activisions Q2

Activision has reported a 12 per cent jump in earnings for the quarter ending June 30th 2010, though it was the reported rise of its digital sales that have really caught the eye.

The publisher stated that for the first time in its history, sales from its digital channels outstripped retail takings, thanks to the strong performances of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, the latter of which has seen the release of two map packs in the last six months.

It could be argued, of course, that Activision’s comparatively weak retail slate in the period was also a factor. Releases such as Blur and Singularity underperformed on the High Street, and while Transformers: War for Cybertron and Shrek Forever After put up a better performance but failed to stamp their authority on games charts on wither side of the Atlantic.

This stance, though, is somewhat countered by the jump in earnings. Whether or not theis shift in power can be seen as adding any fuel to belief that Activision may introduce an optional paid-for offering in the multiplayer component of Novermber’s Call of Duty: Black Ops is up for debate.

Profit finished at $219m, up from $195m in 2009, though revenue fell 6.8 per cent to $967m.

MMO World of Warcraft was the single biggest returner in the three-month period, brining in net revenues of $289m. Of the home consoles Xbox 360 was the most lucrative ($240m), followed by PS3 ($182m), PC ($81m), Wii ($76m) and DS ($36m).

Amazingly, the $9m revenue enjoyed by the aging PS2 outstripped the $3m made on PSP in the period. The same was also true in the company’s last six months, a period in which overall Xbox 360 was more lucrative the MMOs ($624m compared to $594m).

Distribution revenues, which include those brought in by owned company Centresoft, were also down year-on-year.

For the first and second quarters, we outperformed our earnings per share outlook, and we grew our operating margin year over year for the six month period, driven by our focused effort to increase digital revenues,” CEO Bobby Kotick stated. There are clearly more opportunities than ever before to create great games and we are at the forefront of doing so.”

Upcoming releases for the publisher include Call of Duty: Black Ops, of which Kotick said is shaping up to be one of the best games Activision Publishing has ever created” as well as Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, DJ Hero 2, Tony Hawk: Shred, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Goldeneye 007.

Plus, of course, last week saw the release of the record-breaking PC strategy title Starcraft II.

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