paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

25. Activision Blizzard

Games, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #15

Digital Content Revenue

$1,559,000,000 (34% of total)

Digital Snapshot

War is hell — but not for Activision Blizzard. The latest in its popular Call Of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare 3, was the most popular game of 2011 in Europe and the U.S., in what was otherwise another poor year for game sales. The firm earned more than a third of its money through new digital retail channels.

Key Move

Now Acti-Bliz is looking even further beyond the box. Having picked up 10.2 million paying monthly users of its World Of Warcraft, it introduced its new Call Of Duty Elite network and picked up 1.5 million paying subscribers out of seven million users. All in all, a third of Activision Blizzard’s money came from subscriptions. That kind of revenue dependability is welcome, and makes it look increasingly like a cable TV company, not a game publisher.

Our Methodology

By distribution channel, Vivendi reported €1,559,000,000 in “digital online channels” revenue for Activision-Blizzard: “Includes revenues from subscriptions and memberships, licensing royalties, value-added services, downloadable content, digitally distributed products and wireless devices.” Separately, by platform, it reported €1,155,000,000 in “online subscriptions” revenue: “Includes all revenues generated by World of Warcraft products, including subscriptions, boxed software, expansion packs, licensing royalties and value-added services. It also includes revenues from Call of Duty Elite memberships.”
Source: Vivendi 2011 annual report, p 146

— RA