Activision Blizzard going big with Destiny, Hearthstone in 2014

These two franchises will be tentpoles for the company, which plans to expand its efforts in the mobile space on the back of Blizzard's collectible card game.
For 2014, said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick on the investor call following its financial results, the company expects to find "sizable financial returns on mobile and tablets," in a move that sees the company's investments in mobile and free-to-play paying big dividends. This will be lead by Blizzard's Hearthstone, which Kotick called Blizzard's "fourth mega-franchise," alongside Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo. The company has "at least three potential groundbreaking franchises" in the works as free-to-play titles: Hearthstone, its MOBA Blizzard: Heroes of the Storm, and the Chinese market-targeted Call of Duty Online, produced in partnership with Tencent. But the company isn't backing away from big console titles, of course. CFO Dennis Durkin said that Activision Blizzard remains committed to a "focused strategy of doing a few things extremely well," and one of those is launching Bungie's Destiny, which Kotick called the "biggest new IP in our company's history." Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg underscored the importance of the company's collaboration with Bungie: "As with everything we do on Destiny, it's a partnership, and in that partnership with Bungie our interests are completely aligned. We're building what's a 10-year franchise, and we need the best game possible." The Skylanders franchise continues to be a huge success for Activision, and this year's game will come from Toys for Bob, the franchise's original developer. Vicarious Visions developed the 2013 title, Swap Force, implying a two-year trade-off between developers, as has been standard for the Call of Duty franchise until now. That's changing, with Call of Duty moving to a three-year dev cycle starting with its 2014 release, with Sledgehammer Games leading development on the title. The franchise will now be split into three sub-brands: Ghosts, Modern Warfare, and Black Ops, each getting the three-year treatment, with Treyarch and Infinity Ward leading development on the series' other games, as before.

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