Activision-Blizzard announced some preliminary numbers in advance of their quarterly report and investors call. Earnings are up, profits are up, subscribers are down.
On the subscription watch front, it was announced that World of Warcraft dropped from 8.3 to 7.7 million subscribers since their last report, again proving that they work in a completely different scale from other MMOs. How many MMOs even have 600K paying customers? And how many could afford to lose that many?
And while a loss of 600K subscribers is a blow, warnings of ongoing subscriber attrition was brought up previously. And at least 600K is less than the 1.3 million subscribers they shed in the previous quarter.
All of which is a discussion point as those who attempt to track such things make another mark on their charts.
But the reason that there is even a preliminary report is because Activision-Blizzard is buying itself out of Vivendi.
Vivendi has been looking for ways to plunder the cash cow that is Activision-Blizzard in order to stave off its own financial woes. Now it seems that Vivendi will get some money, but will lose control of Activision-Blizzard, its ownership stake dropping from 60% to 12%.
Now, will this change alter anything for Blizzard? Bobby Kotick will still be in charge, and all the more so with an investment group he leads buying into the new situation. But as Activision-Blizzard was the cash cow in Vivendi’s eyes, Blizzard remains such in the Activision-Blizzard family. Blizzard in general, and World of Warcraft in particular, carries the company freight three quarters out of four in every fiscal year. In that fourth quarter a Call of Duty game ships an eclipses Blizzard for a bit. As long as Blizzard keeps to that role, I suspect that they will continue to operate as before. But dropping subscriptions have to be a cause of worry. There may come a point where WoW ceases to be insanely profitable. And with Titan pushed out and nothing else big on the horizon, Blizzard needs to keep Azeroth well populated for a few more years.