The latest Activision Blizzard financial update has revealed some interesting numbers around the publisher's key properties, including both massive success for Diablo III and ongoing decline in subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft.
Diablo III's sales have hit 10 million units, 1.2 million of which came from the company's annual pass promotion for World of Warcraft. This success, on top of ongoing strength in the Skylanders franchise, helped drive record operating income in the second quarter of 2012.
World of Warcraft, meanwhile, has shed a further 1.1 million subscribers in the leadup to the release of their next expansion - a traditionally challenging time for MMO games, as players lose interest in the current content and await what's coming next. The next expansion - Mists of Pandaria - releases on September 25th. The Annual Pass program, meanwhile, will start to expire in late October, at which point in time another 1.2 million players will have the option to unsubscribe from the game.
The current player base for World of Warcraft sits at 9.1 million subscribers, 2.9 million less than at the end of 2010. Even at these reduced numbers, however, World of Warcraft still has the largest number of paying MMO subscribers.
Future plans for the company include a strategy referred to as "Margin Expansion", under which were listed:
Overall, Activision Blizzard earned US$1.08 billon dollars in the quarter ending June 30th, exceeding earlier expectations; 32% of that revenue came by way of its digital channels.
"For the first six months," Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, explained "we had the top three best-selling games in North America and Europe with Skylanders Spyro's Adventures and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Blizzard Entertainment's record setting Diablo III."
"For the remainder of the year, we are excited about our product slate which includes Skylanders Giants and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. While we are increasing our financial outlook for full year 2012, we remain cautious given economic uncertainty, risks to consumer spending especially during the holiday season and the recognition that the majority of our key franchise launches are still ahead of us," Kotick added.