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Activision CEO forecasts flat industrywide game sales for holiday quarter

November 5, 2009 |  2:27 pm
Bobby Kotick
Activision CEO Robert Kotick. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times.

Video game sales this holiday aren't likely to top last year's, said Robert Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard Inc., the world's largest video game software company.

"If the consumer materializes and spends money, we'll do well," Kotick said in an interview today. "If not, things will be a challenge. And today, you really have no way of knowing what will happen. Shopping season hasn't kicked off. Consumers saw significant discounts last year after Black Friday, and they're waiting for it to happen again this year."

Kotick's sober remarks came just before the company released its third-quarter earnings report. Although sales were down 1% to $703 million, Activision swung into a $15-million profit, up from a $108-million loss in the same quarter last year. It earned a penny a share in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with an 8-cent loss a year earlier. The numbers beat Wall Street expectations on a non-GAAP basis.

Activision -- anchored by a trio of blockbuster franchises including Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft -- has been better prepared to weather the economic storm that has eroded software sales and dampened consumer's appetite for game consoles and other consumer electronics.

This quarter, the Santa Monica-based game publisher released DJ Hero last week, followed by Band Hero on Tuesday. Upcoming titles include Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, due out next week, and Tony Hawk Ride on Nov. 17.

More after the company's earnings conference call with senior executives.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.