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Acti-Blizz Q1 FY12: Call of Duty franchise has 40M MAU 

Activision-Blizzard has posted better-than-expected 2012 financial results for Q1 FY12, and noted the Call of Duty franchise had 40 million monthly active users as of the end of March - compared to Battlefield 3's 6.2 million MAU.

For the quarter, the firm reported revenues of $1.17 billion, which is down year-over-year compared to $1.45 billion for the same period in 2011. Still, the first said the figure was better than expected. For the period ending March 31, net revenues from digital channels represented 27% of the company's total revenues, and net income was $384 million, compared to net income of $503 million for the same period last year.

During the quarter, Skylanders Spyro's Adventures was the number one kids game with over 30 million toys sold life-to date, and Call of Duty Elite had over 10 million registered users including over 2 million annual premium member as of April 30. The firm is bullish on the prospects of launching Call of Duty in China.

World of Warcraft was still the number one subscription-based MMO with 10.2 million subscribers as of March 31, and as previously reported, Diablo III has set an all-time worldwide pre-order record for Blizzard.

"Our better-than-expected first-quarter performance was driven by global consumer demand for Activision Publishing 's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare3, and Skylanders Spyro's Adventures, as well as Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft which remains the number one subscription-based MMORPG in the world," said CEO Bobby Kotick in a prepared statement.

"Through March 31, players have logged more than 1.6 billion hours of online gameplay of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Additionally, Activision Publishing 's Call of Duty Elite service continues to grow and currently has more than 10 million registered users including more than two million annual premium members, an increase of approximately 33% from January 31 , 2012.

"For the quarter in North America and Europe, including the accessory packs and figures, Skylanders Spyro's Adventures was the number three best-selling game overall in dollars across all platforms. Based on our internal estimates, we believe that Skylander's toys sales in the first quarter exceeded those of Star Wars, the number one action figure line."

In his remarks, Kotick took the opportunity to note the various products planned for the remainder of the year "and beyond" which include: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard's new MMORPG, Skylander's Giants, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and "a new universe from Bungie."

"We also continue to expand our service platforms, Battle.net and Call of Duty Elite, and to grow our global footprint into new markets and strengthen our development resources for the future," he said.

Blizzard's Mike Morhaime reiterated during the call to investors that WoW subs had stabilized at 10.2 million, and the firm expects more subs with the launch of Mists of Pandaria.

He said the beta test for the WoW expansion "was a success" and was expanded to the 1.2 million people who purchased annual passes.

Morhaime also said internal testing has started on the Arcade System in StarCraft II, and that he is very proud of the work the Diablo III team put into the firm's "best Diablo game yet", noting massive interest in the dungeon crawler's recent open beta.

"The response we got was huge, with more than two million people worldwide participating in the open beta," he said.

He concluded his end of the call by noting that development on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm was "going well," and reiterated the firm's plans for the beta will be announced after the June MLG event.

The firm is exited about the potential of releasing Diablo III in China, but the firm will look east after the game releases in the US and Europe.

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Stephany Nunneley

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Half-blind/half-dyslexic, bad typist, wine enthusiast, humanitarian, intellectual savant, idiot savior, lover of all things nonsensical, animal hoarder and highly sarcastic.

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