In the year ahead, Activision could reap the benefits of some 12 million units of PC software from Blizzard, analysts say. With Starcraft II
and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
both slated to launch in the publisher's 2010, Blizzard could contribute an additional $400-$600 million to the publisher's balance sheet through software unit sales alone.
That's the prediction of Wedbush's Michael Pachter, who says the success of those two Blizzard titles will help Activision offset predicted declines in the Call of Duty
franchise and the music genre.
The analyst believes this to be true, even though neither WoW: Cataclysm
-- which might also boost the MMO's subscription revenues -- nor StarCraft II
can be expected to launch until late in the calendar year. Activision Blizzard is also counting on the higher profit margin of PC games compared to console games, thanks to no console platform royalties.
The softening music genre has already played a sour note for Viacom, who today blamed Rock Band
declines for a decrease in quarterly sales. When it revealed widening losses
in its own quarterly results yesterday, Activision also said it would thin out its range of music game SKUs and focus on the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero franchises
But despite some drop-offs in markets where Activision has historically pulled easy dollars, with Blizzard up its sleeve, analysts widely agree the company's calendar 2010 forecast is too conservative, and that the company can still post year over year growth as long as Blizzard launches its projects on time.