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Activision beats its expectations for third-quarter 2013 earnings

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Activision's performance during the third quarter of its 2013 fiscal year surpassed expectations, and the publisher is revising its guidance for the fourth quarter, according to the company's latest financial report.

Activision pulled in $691 million of net revenue during the three-month period ending Sept. 30, lower than the $841 million of net revenue from the same quarter a year ago but 8.8 percent ahead of the publisher's expectation of $635 million. Net revenue came in at $409 million, 59 percent of the total — a record-high proportion for Activision's third quarter.

Continued sales of two major titles from 2012, Skylanders Giants and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, helped drive Activision's performance — they were two of the top five best-selling games in both North America and Europe during the quarter. World of Warcraft saw a relatively small drop in subscribers over the course of the quarter, from 7.7 million as of June 30 to 7.6 million by the end of September. And StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm is the top-selling Windows PC game in North America so far this year.

The third quarter also saw Activision's separation from its former parent company, Vivendi, in a two-part purchase of shares totaling $8.17 billion. The deal closed in mid-October.

"We continue to believe that the fourth quarter this year presents a unique and challenging landscape due to increased competition and uncertainties surrounding the console transition," said Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard CEO, in today's earnings report. "We are confident in our ability to navigate these challenges successfully, particularly in light of the recent completion of our transaction with Vivendi and the focus and flexibility provided by our return to independence."

Activision now expects fourth-quarter net revenue to come in at $1.26 billion, slightly lower than its previous guidance of $1.3 billion, but it believes that earnings per share for the quarter will be $0.05 instead of between $0.01 and $0.04. For the full year, the company is expecting $4.32 billion in net revenue, as opposed to the previous prediction of $4.31 billion.

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