Activision announced that Sledgehammer Games, an internal studio founded by former Visceral Games (Dead Space) leadership, will develop the next Call of Duty game, and the publisher confirmed the departure of Infinity Ward founders Vince Zampella and Jason West.
Call of Duty will now be managed under its own Activision business unit intended to foster "various new brand initiatives." The company says it plans to focus heavily on "high-margin digital online content" and spread the Call of Duty name across multiple genres, in an attempt to reproduce the level of global reach enjoyed by Blizzard's successful franchises such as WarCraft.
Also, sent in by Julian Dasgupta (from PRNewswire):
Activision Publishing, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced new strategic plans for the Call of Duty(R) franchise, one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
The plans include the formation of a dedicated business unit that will bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world. The company intends to expand the Call of Duty brand with the same focus seen in its Blizzard(R) Entertainment business unit. This will include a focus on high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.
A quick summary:
The Taste Of English Tea Blog.
This is taken from Activision's latest 10-K report, filed yesterday:
We depend on a relatively small number of franchises for a significant portion of our revenues and profits.
A significant portion of our revenues has historically been derived from products based on a relatively small number of popular franchises and these products are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of our profits. For example, our top three franchises, Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft, accounted for approximately 68% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2009. We expect that a limited number of popular franchises will increasingly produce a disproportionately high percentage of our revenues and profits. Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.
Bolded emphasis is mine.
That 68% number is startling enough, but based on the "...will increasingly produce a disproportionately high percentage of our revenues and profits" phrase, it looks like Activision is actively planning to become even MORE dependent on their three top franchises.
The problem, and it's a big one, is that if one of those franchises fail, there won't be anything left to take its place.