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Analyst Predicts 5 Million Units In First Month For Lich King

A possible shortage of Guitar Hero: World Tour band kits and preorders for Call of Duty 5 "significantly" above CoD 4's encourage analysts on Activision's solid footing and in the larger health of game retail in a poor economy -- as <
Analysts are confident in Activision Blizzard ahead of the holiday season; even with $198 million in losses in its just-closed second quarter, the company reported $711 million in revenue. While the industry watches to see how key holiday consumer spending will be affected by the economic downturn, analysts believe each of the company's key franchises is positioned to withstand. Most analysts cautiously suggest the holiday retail period is not yet visible enough to predict, but Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey is encouraged by the near sellout -- and likely shortage, according to Activision Blizzard -- of Guitar Hero: World Tour band sets at retail. Call of Duty: World at War preorders are also "tracking significantly ahead" of those of the game's predecessor, Modern Warfare, another factor that helps encourage his view of holiday retail turnout both for Activision and in general. "We believe current product sales performance and pre-order activity at key retailers like GameStop has likely illuminated sufficient predictability to the ultimate performance from key game releases to maintain performance projections and articulated conviction," says Hickey. The analyst is also "impressed" at the fact that World of Warcraft's subscriber base has grown to 11 million even amid economic anxieties and two recent major releases, Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, neither of which have appeared to slow the game's momentum. Based on its existing subscriber base, says Hickey, "We expect the upcoming release of WoW’s expansion pack... would yield a sell-through of roughly 5 million units in the first month."

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