Fox News commentator Oliver North has been signed to help Activision sell its next big Call of Duty game, Call of Duty Black Ops 2. North appears on-screen in an infomercial for the game talking about war. We'll leave the characterizations to Fox News (from his bio there as a contributor to the network) and this Wikipedia entry on him, but the short story is that North's past is marked with scandal.
Today Vivendi strongly denied a report from Bloomberg on Wednesday that the company was considering a major reorganization of its various properties. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the Paris-based conglomerate was discussing the possibility of splitting the company into two parts. One part would include its Universal Music Group and video game company Activision Blizzard. Bloomberg reported this based on sources "with knowledge of the matter."
PiperJaffray analyst Michael Olson says that Call of Duty's "shortened tail" and a general lack of hits are the reasons for lower retail games sales recently. Olson says that the latest game in the series - Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 - isn't maintaining the same long tail sales that 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops enjoyed. He projects that the game will be the eighth largest selling game in March 2012, comparing it to Blacks Ops - which was the fifth best selling game in the same period a year ago.
The lawsuit between Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella and Activision (with special guest star Electronic Arts) has been given a trial date this week. The case will officially begin on May 29, according to Game Informer. In late march a judge dismissed one of the claims that West and Zampella lodged against Activision in its original lawsuit - before Activision dragged EA into the fray.
A company called Worlds Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for infringing a patent the company holds related to virtual worlds. Let the trolling begin anew. Worlds Inc. claims that the company is violating a patent it holds related to "systems and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space." The company alleges in its claim that Activision's World of Warcraft and Call of Duty games violate its patents and that it is due compensation for it.
GameStop is banking on a new deal with Blizzard that it hopes will shore up its digital sales over the next several years. The deal will see GameStop offer customers the ability to buy games and digital goods for Blizzard games in the retailer’s stores in the U.S. and other regions. Diablo III, coming May 15, will be the first game sold via download codes in the stores.
In an editorial on Huffington Post, Activision Blizzard CEO (and co-chairmen of the company's charity, The Call of Duty Endowment), says that American corporations are not doing enough to help veterans returning home from two wars only to find a job market that doesn't want to hire them. This new battle at home, as Kotick calls it, puts veterans in a higher bracket of unemployment than the national average.
With Blizzard announcing today that Diablo 3 will be released on May 15, it was only a matter of time before an analyst rolled out the cart with the crystal ball to make a prognostication about the game's sales.
"Our street-high FY12 EPS estimate of $1.05 assumes first year unit sell-through of 5MM for Diablo III, and assumes that over 1MM of the units incorporate the World of Warcraft 'annual pass' deal which allows WoW players who commit to a one-year subscription to receive Diablo III for free."
Activision Blizzard had some luck this week in court when one of the claims of fraud brought against it in the ongoing legal battle against former Infinity Ward heads (Jason West and Vincent Zampella) and Electronic Arts was dismissed by the presiding judge. California State Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle (Los Angeles) today sided with Activision in their assertion that a fraudulent-inducement claim made by West and Zampella was without merit and shouldn't be allowed to move forward. Judge Berle let the duo's claim of promissory fraud move forward.
After an internal review, Activision has decided to eliminate 600 jobs across Blizzard's global workforce, according to GameIndustry.biz. Approximately 90 percent of these job cuts are unrelated to internal development, and the World of Warcraft development team will not be affected.
Yesterday, we reported that French gaming site Gameblog had apparently been blacklisted by Activision for reporting that Amazon’s French portal had briefly posted a listing for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Gameblog editor Grégory Szriftgiser spoke to Kotaku about what happened:
Activision is not a happy camper today as the name of its next Call of Duty title is leaked by Amazon's French portal, then quickly taken offline. According to the Amazon France page, the name of the next game is "Call of Duty Black Ops 2." The news was first reported by Gameblog.
While Blizzard may have lost an estimated 100,000 subscribers in its most recently reported quarter, the good news for the World of Warcraft maker is that the bleeding is now trickling. In the quarter before that Blizzard revealed that it had lost a whopping 800,000 subscribers, so losing 100,000 in the three months ending December 31 seems almost like a reversal of fortune.
Normally when you imagine someone getting in the Guinness Book of World Records, you correlate the entry to some kind of effort being involved. Someone eats 1,000 eggs, or juggles for 24 hours, etc. But with the new Gamer’s Edition of the book they have added a new category called "the Best Game Ending" and allowed about 13,000 fans to vote.
If you were planning on heading to Anaheim, California at the end of this year to attend BlizzCon, we have some sad news for you today: Blizzard has decided not to host a 2012 event. BlizzCon will return in 2013. The reason for not running its fan event this year? The company says that it wants to spend all of its time developing the three titles it has in its pipeline: Diablo III, the StarCraft II expansion Heart of the Swarm, and the World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria. The company did announce details on the 2012 Battle.net World Championship. Details below:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. According to an Ad Age report, Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said that the Modern Warfare 3 leak onto the Internet was his "first real crisis on the job” and forced the company to employ some unorthodox methods to soften the blow. He said that when the news broke the marketing department was called into a half-day meeting with risk management to discuss their options.
If you've been banned from Modern Warfare 3 for being a jerk or cheating, you can start playing again in another 5,000 days. If you're a 13-year-old and you catch such a serious ban, you'll be 26.5 years old when you can play again. A serious ban is 5,000 days, or 13.5 years, according to MP1st. But don't worry - these bans are dubbed "temporary" by Infinity Ward.
Bloomberg is reporting that Activision-Blizzard's top stakeholder Vivendi SA has failed to obtain a new line of credit worth an estimated €1 billion. According to multiple sources with "knowledge of the negotiations," the credit deal fell through mostly because of wary investors who are dealing with the mounting pressure from the European debt crisis.
Xbox 360 Modern Warfare 3 online matchmaking won't work properly in countries that are not supported by Xbox Live, according to a report in Eurogamer. Some customers in countries where the service isn't official are having trouble playing Modern Warfare 3 and there's nothing that can be done about it, according to tweets from Activision and Microsoft to users complaining about problems.
Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has hit the $ 1 billion sales mark - and it did so just 16 days after its November 8 release. As this IndustryGamers report points out, it hit that milestone faster the top grossing movie in history - James Cameron’s Avatar. Activision also said that it has 30 million players in its worldwide Call of Duty player community.
According to EA's Peter Moore Battlefield has either taken market share from Modern Warfare 3, has added millions of new customers into the mix, or both. The COO of EA insists that Battlefield 3 has successfully taken a slice of Modern Warfare 3’s market share, even though the latest title in Activision's top franchise has become the fastest selling entertainment product of all time.
Infinity Ward, the developers of Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, announced via Twitter that it has banned more than 1,600 players online for cheating. Infinity Ward Creative Strategist, Robert Bowling explained via Twitter what was going on.
"Any attempt to cheat, hack, or glitch in #MW3 will not be tolerated. 1600+ bans issued. Updates in works."
He went on to answer questions from followers about how to report cheaters from within the game:
Beachhead Studios, the development team in charge of the Call of Duty Elite social and stat-tracking network from Activision, are promising that the service will be fully operational by December 1. In a recent interview with G4TV, vice president of production Daniel Suarez says that he accepts responsibility for the widely reported problems with the service since its launch.
As part of its latest financial results games retailer GameStop revealed that it sold well over a half-a-million Call of Duty Elite subscriptions. The Call of Duty Elite subscriptions were a big hit at GameStop stores, mostly due to the November 8 launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Elite sales certainly helped GameStop's digital business, which the company expects to exceed internal expectations of $450 million for the current fiscal year. So exactly how many Elite subscriptions were sold? According to GameStop, right around 600,000.
Activision says that it "misspoke" earlier this week when it said via Twitter that Call of Duty: Elite support for the PC version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 probably wasn't going to happen.
"We are working towards a universal Elite experience but we cannot guarantee if or when a version will be available for the PC," Activision stated via its CoD: Elite Twitter account yesterday.