Activision warned investors yesterday that 2013 could be rocky ride for the company. Remaining cautious for the year, Activision is facing serious competition against Call of Duty: Ghosts with EA’s Battlefield 4, and the outlook on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is negative.
The company is still confident in Call of Duty: Ghosts, and plans to drive sales for the shooter higher with an even bigger marketing campaign for the popular franchise. Analysts have been predicting a downward slide for the franchise, but the publisher continually tops expectations launching to bigger fanfare year after year, and topping sales records in each opening week. 2012 didn’t see much competition for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. EA’s offering just weeks ahead of the game’s release was received poorly by critics, and subsequently EA cancelled the Medal of Honor franchise.
Activision is seeing increased competition on all fronts: Battlefield 4, Disney Infinity, and falling WoW subscriptions.
Though this year is a different animal. 2011 saw DICE dig into some of Call of Duty’s holiday hype with Battlefield 3, and hopes to do so again with Battlefield 4.
It’s not really Call of Duty that Activision seems worried about. CEO Bobby Kotick explains that weakness from the Wii U could impact sales across the board, especially with franchises like Skylanders. Though even without weakness from Nintendo, Skylanders will see increased competition from Disney’s new Infinity title, which is also aiming to break into a nearly identical business model.
Activision also predicts that World of Warcraft subscribers will continue to fall. This report saw 1.3 million paying subscribers leave the service, bringing the aging MMO well under the 10 million subscriber mark. It’s actually a marvel that they’ve still got millions of players subscribing to play at this point, considering that so many other MMO’s have sprung up in recent years, failed miserably, and went free to play.
Despite the recent warnings from the company, Activision is still the biggest player in the games business. They’ve got the biggest market capitalization by far, plenty of games ammunition going forward, and choose their battles carefully when it comes to games outside their core money makers.