Activision/Blizzard Q4 2009 Conference Call


Final take: Nothing about Diablo 3. Starcraft 2 closed beta to start later this month, and they still hope to ship it in mid-2010, with WoW:Cat shipping near the end of the year.

Activision/Blizzard is holding their quarterly conference call later today, around 1:30pm PST. These conference calls generally feature the company CEOs and CFOs, and are primarily geared toward investors and the business world, with much talk about earnings and subscribers and game sales figures. There is usually some interesting game info as well, in terms of major milestones and events (such as the beginning of the Starcraft 2 beta?) but it would be a shock to hear some actual Diablo 3 game info.

If you’d like to listen to the live stream, you can do so through Activision’s Investor website. We’ll be keeping an ear on the proceedings and will report any interesting Diablo-related news in this space. You might also enjoy the coverage from our Starcraft site, where they’re pulling strongly for a SC2 beta announcement.

1:30 – 1:43—Activision/Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was the first speaker, and he gave a speech about how wonderful everything is doing, despite the poor worldwide economy. Bobby announced that ATVI would engage in another billion dollar stock buy back, and would soon offer its first cash dividend (it’s been purely a growth stock to this point) of $.15 per share. His speech was primarily memorable to hear someone say “Battle dot net” a number of times.

1:43 – 1:52—The Activision CFO (who possess a wonderfully Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque accent) comes on and talks about the glowing financial picture, and gives details about the stock buy back, the cash dividend, the company’s obscene cash flow, etc.Strong December quarter, strong balance sheet, more than ten times the profits of their closest competitors.

1:53 – 2:10—Another Activision financial guy gloats about the fantastically successful launch of Modern Warfare 2. Activision is cautious in new IPs, but DJ Hero was a huge success and the best new IP on the market. More store space for A/B than ever before. Mini “store within a store” setups in over 600 Toys ‘r Us stores in the US. Digital content sales are picking up, on consoles and PCs. Apparently Activision makes a lot of games too. Who knew?

2:11 – 2:21—Blizzard CEO Mike Morhime comes on to talk about Blizzard. Opens up with profit/revenue info. Everyone loves WoW, 11.5m subs. The Mr. T commercials drove record trial offers. Still being screwed by Chinese politics.  2010 is hoped to be the biggest year in Blizzard’s history. Two major game launches for the first time in Blizzard’s history. Closed beta testing for Starcraft 2 begins later this month on a global scale. There will be thousands of testers from US, Europe, Asia, and more. Still tracking for a mid-2010 launch. New Battle.net stuff; chat between diff games, more fun online experience, etc.

Much talk about WoW:Cat. Reworking all the early areas to bring them up to the quality of the later areas. New players who make it past level 10 are very likely to subscribe, while only 30% of all trials players do so. So they want to make the earlier stuff better to suck you in. Good news for new WoW players. As for the long term players, QQ non-noob!

That’s the end of the Blizzard presentation, without a single mention of Diablo 3. Not on the 2010 plans, as we’ve long been aware. Perhaps someone will ask about it in the Q&A session.

2:21 – 2:38—Questions… All WoW and financial stuff. Nothing on Diablo 3. “How can you add more subs, how much money will you make from value added features,” etc, Lots of them were answered with, “We don’t provide information on specific figures for that…” The last question pertained to social gaming, and received the expected, “We’re very interested in those areas and are watching them closely, but we can’t announce any concrete details yet….” All fairly standard PR stuff. I could have answered 3/4 of those questions, and I don’t pay any attention to Activision games.

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  1. At first #2 was the favourite style but I went for #4 which I think had only 1 other vote at the time and I’m surprised to see that it’s now out in front.  I bet Blizzard could do great things with that concept.

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