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Even without Warcraft, EA's digital sales trend higher than Activision's

Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts have been adjusting for an online world for years now. Here's how their efforts size up to one another.
Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts are both working to expand their digital distribution and online businesses as the video game landscape continues to evolve beyond brick and mortar retail. Today, our own Matt Matthews painted a clearer picture of how the two megapublishers' digital businesses measure up to one another, and the findings turn out to be quite telling. In terms of company-to-company comparisons, this is the first 12-month period in which EA exceeded the digital revenue of its greatest rival, Activision Blizzard. At the end of March of this year, Activision Blizzard had annualized digital revenue of $1.73 billion per year while EA was hitting $1.66 billion. At the end of June, however, it was EA with the $1.72 billion total and Activision Blizzard with $1.62 billion. Activision Blizzard has its digital revenues closely tied to two major businesses: World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. When a new expansion for World of Warcraft is released, and the numbers of subscribers increases, the Blizzard's digital revenues rise. The game's population peaked at 12 million users in late 2010, and there is a peak in the digital revenue curve graphed above that extends into late 2011. The latest expansion for World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria, was released in September 2012.
In late 2011, Activision experimented with the Call of Duty Elite subscription program alongside the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. For a $50 fee up front, subscribers were able to obtain all DLC packages for the game at no additional cost. As a result, their a la carte DLC purchases and the higher revenue figures that those individual purchases generate, declined through the middle of 2012. The Elite subscription was not part of the latest Call of Duty title, Black Ops II, and so individual sales of DLC have helped drive higher digital revenue for Activision this year. For more digital analysis (and interesting charts) from Matthews, check out our full feature.

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