Strong worldwide sales for Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero III and Spider-Man 3 drove the considerable growth, supported by Transformers: The Game and Shrek The Third. NPD data also shows that GHIII was the year's best-selling game in the U.S. and Europe in dollars during the year, while CoD4 was the number two worldwide best-seller in Europe, and the number one highest-earning PC title worldwide. Both franchises have surpassed a billion dollars in sales since launch.
It was the most profitable fourth quarter ever for Activision, even though the publisher did not release any new titles during that period. With its overall growth outpacing the rest of the market by more than four times, the company is now the number one console and handheld software publisher in dollars, according to NPD Group data.
Activision also said that a thriving video game industry overall bolstered the $1.39 billion growth on the year and near-doubling on the quarter. On the company's call to investors, chairman and CEO Bobby Kotick said he expects the install base of next-gen consoles to continue growing by 60 percent over the coming year, and that current software price points should hold, though he said the company would "monitor prices closely and remain mindful of competitive practices."
Kotick also said the Guitar Hero franchise would "continue to expand, through more SKUs and more hardware innovations, including the first peripheral ever created for Nintendo DS."
Also upcoming on the company's release slate are Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; Kung Fu Panda on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, Windows PC and DS; Guitar Hero: On Tour for DS, and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith for Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2.
Additionally, a game based on the upcoming James Bond: Quantum of Solace film will release concurrently in Q3, developed on the same engine as CoD4. Kotick also said that "we're reinventing Tony from the ground up," hinting at big announcements to come regarding innovation on the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater franchise. "This won't be your father's Tony Hawk," he promised.
Activision also announced today that it will release downloadable content "for certain key titles" at the end of 2008, an area in which the company says it sees "continued growth and emerging opportunities."
Primarily, the company looks ahead to the finalization of its merger with Vivendi Games (notably including Blizzard Entertainment and its market-leading World of Warcraft), which still requires stockholder approval and other closing procedures.
Through the partnership, the company is planning moves into the MMO business in both North America and Asia. Activision's September 2007 acquisition of Bizarre Creations also positions the company, it said, to enter the racing game genre.
Kotick said that the company's studio structure positions the company advantageously, as it "allows studios to maintain creative culture which gives edge in attracting talent and fostering creativity." He also said that Activision remains the only publisher not to delay a key title during the year thanks to its proficiency in next-gen console development and the strength of its studio structure.
"Fiscal 2008 marks the 6th consecutive year we have grown our business," Kotick. "This achievement would not have been possible without the creativity, hard work and dedication of our employees and our commitment as a company to deliver long-term shareholder value."
"Over the last two decades Activision has had many successful years. However, this fiscal year was a breakthrough year for the company."