Activision Blizzard (US)

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Activision Blizzard is one of the world's biggest independent games software developers, and owner of two of the industry's biggest franchises: World Of Warcraft and above all Call of Duty, the military shooter that has been the overall #1 gaming franchise for almost a decade. Yet performance at all the established gaming companies has been buffeted by the changing nature of the marketplace since 2010. The business was formed in 2008 by the merger of US company Activision with the software arm of French media and entertainment group Vivendi. Still intent on consolidating its existing assets, it was caught slightly by surprise by the sudden explosion of social media gaming, and especially mobile games. In 2015, it arranged to plug the sizeable hole in its portfolio with the acquisition of King Digital, makers of Candy Crush, for $5.9bn. More recently the similarly explosive popularity of MMO rival Fortnite has left another dent in performance.

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Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Gaming giant Activision Blizzard took the markets almost entirely by surprise with significantly better than expected figures for the holiday period. Retail research had suggested a sharp decline in sales for the latest installment of Activision's top-selling Call Of Duty franchise. However bricks-and-mortar losses were offset by a huge jump in digital downloads, not just of COD but also other titles, especially online multiplayer environment Overwatch. The company also enjoyed a big boost from recently acquired King Digital, makers of Candy Crush. That pushed quarterly revenues over $2bn for the first time, raising the full-year figure to $6.61bn, up an astonishing 42% year-on-year. Net income was up 8% to $966m. The unexpectedly strong performance caused Activision's share price to surge by almost 20% to a new high, before slipping back slightly.

Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Dec 2016: There were clear signs that the mammoth success of Activision's Call of Duty gaming franchise has peaked. Early figures for latest release Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, released last month, weighed in almost 50% below the year ago figures for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. The full report has yet to be released, but that decline was flagged by two market analysts with access to early numbers from researcher NPD. Those figures apply only to sales of physical units, as opposed to digital downloads, but it's still a huge fall. Competition from rival games has been especially intense this season, so it's hard to tell so far whether the lower sales are the result of gamers' fatigue with the CoD franchise, or merely the effect of multiple similar releases.

Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Oct 2016: Ads of the Week: "Screw This, Let's Go To Space". Here's superstar swimmer Michael Phelps as you truly have never seen him before, ramping up his commercial presence still further in his post-pool retirement. Christmas is coming so it must be time for another Call Of Duty iteration from Activision, and 72andSunny obliges us with the accompanying high-octane teaser, combining live action with game footage. As always, it's deliriously entertaining. It's been a terrible year, so "Screw this, let's go to space."

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Ads of the Week: "Seize Glory". Another week, another Call Of Duty trailer from 72andSunny, and there are no burgers in sight in this one. Last week brought us a bizarre joint promo between Call Of Duty and fast-feeder Carl's Jr (on our Facebook page, natch). This one is considerably more awesome. Even noobs who have never gone anywhere near a previous version of the game will be itching to get their hands on this. And Cara Delevingne is definitely a whole league - and paygrade - higher than Carl's Jr's Charlotte McKinney.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Videogames developer Activision Blizzard is to plug the significant hole in its current portfolio with the acquisition of UK-based mobile gaming specialist King Digital for $5.9bn. The target company, based in the UK, is responsible for the enormously popular Candy Crush and its various spin-offs. It will now rub shoulders with Activision megabrands including Call Of Duty and World of Warcraft. Like other established games developers, not least its main rival EA, Activision has been caught off-balance by the explosive growth of mobile and Facebook gaming. King Digital is expect to operate as a standalone unit within the group along similar lines to the separate Activision and Blizzard Entertainment development studios.

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