WoW: Vivendi May Be Looking To Sell Activision-Blizzard

By John Walker on June 7th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

RARGH!

Here’s what I don’t understand: business. What a good job I partake in the running of this one, eh? Anyone want to swap RPS for some sweets? Or indeed, Activision. Remarkably, parent company Vivendi may be looking to sell Activision-Blizzard on, and this announcement has seen a drop in their share value. Not even the almighty might of Call Of Duty seems to be enough to keep the business worth keeping as far as the massive megacorp are concerned, perhaps looking for a fast injection of cash. Gamasutra reports that Bloomberg are saying the part or full sale of the company will be discussed on the 22nd June during an investor meeting in Paris.

Vivendi owns 61% of Activision-Blizzard, and it seems that it’s looking to either significantly lower this stake, or shift it entirely. That’s $13.4 billion (currently) worth of company, but when you’re Vivendi and you also own Universal Music Group and a bunch of telecoms, it’s a way to deliver yourself a big chunk of change in a hurry. Especially when you’ve seen your own share value drop a massive 28% in the last year.

Like I say, I don’t have a clue about this stuff, but with CODBLOPS 2 due this Winter, and a significant update to World Of Warcraft due pretty soon, it would seem the right time to be profiting from the massive publisher. Last year they had sales of $4.76bn, and earnings of $1.33bn with a gain of 4.5% in their own shares. The 3.3% drop today since the announcement was made will likely bounce back (in my entirely unqualified opinion) bearing in mind just how much money Activision are going to make by Christmas.

Question is, who will buy it?

In other financial news, I’ve lost the 50p I had in my pocket, which has seen a John Walker worth 0.89 Euros.

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231 Comments »

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  1. sinister agent says:

    I don’t know much about the ins and outs of the corporate edge of the gaming world, but this does seem very strange.

    Valve? EA, Ubi? Something is pushing me to say EA, but I don’t really know what. Probably just their recent moves to take on Steam and generally take quite big steps towards securing a brighter (for them, anyway) future. I wonder if it’ll mean a bumper crop of developers jumping ship once the sale’s done?

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      Carra says:

      Ubisoft is a lot smaller than Activision-Blizzard.

      Heck, Activision-Blizzard is the largest publisher in the world after EA.

      • Zeewolf says:

        I thought Activision Blizzard were larger, in terms of value?

        • Funso Banjo says:

          Hell No.

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            jezcentral says:

            EA is worth about half of ActiBlizz, but as the share price is all over the place it’s hard to make a concrete valuation.

            I think the issue it’s that ActiBlizz is worth about as much as it ever will be. Alone amongst the videogame publishers, it attracts the bigger institutional investors as it pays a dividend, basically off the back of WOW. However, WOW subs have probably peaked, COD runs the risk of being overtaken by Respawn, DICE or other wannabees (your mileage may vary as to whether you think this will happen, but the fact is this series has to constantly prove itself every time, unlike, say, WOW).

            They haven’t really got on board with digital distribution, or mobile games, or whatever you think the next big thing in games is, so there is no real downside in getting rid of it now, whilst it’s valuation is historically relatively high.

        • Jimbo says:

          Hell yes. Acti-Blizz are (theoretically) worth ~3x more than EA. Of course, they’re both only really worth what somebody would pay for them, but the market values Acti-Blizz much higher than EA.

          EA employs twice as many people according to wiki, so I suppose you could consider them bigger in that sense. Lower annual revenue than Acti though, and the crucial difference is that Acti actually seems to know how to turn a profit.

        • oddshrub says:

          EA is worth 1/3 less of activision blizzard and they net around 1 billion less a year.

          The rate of shares isn’t where you look at company value because the value of shares depend on how many shares a company issues.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Nexon could probably afford to buy Activision. Nexon has a market cap of $7.9 billion, compared to EA’s $4.9 billion.

    • jhng says:

      Replying to the first post, I apologise if that’s bad etiquette or something…

      But it’s not necessarily that unexpected a move. If a big corporation does find itself in short term difficulties and needs a big cash injection to rescue core parts of the business (and I have no idea how far this applies to Vivendi) then it can make a lot of sense to sell a more healthy limb, and one which can stand alone as a successful business with a proven track record, to fund that. It makes for a much quicker sale and you can get much more money than if you try and flog the failing parts of the business.

      As to the share price dropping that is simple supply and demand — people are now anticipating Vivendi putting a large part of its 61% stake on the market which will create over supply for Activision-Blizzard shares and could depress the price. I guess that people will have decided that this potential uncertainty makes it a good time to cash out, while potential buyers will hold off on buying until they see how the cookie crumbles. The opposite would have happened if a business had announced that they were interested in buying as opposed to Vivendi announcing that they are interested in selling.

      • bonjovi says:

        I understand the need for cash to prop up some failing investments, but still, it must be bad idea to sell your cash cow.

        • Ragnar says:

          We don’t know that it’s Vivendi’s cash cow. As far as game devs / publishers, they’re certainly very profitable, and probably envied by most. But for someone like Vivendi? They may make more money off their Telecoms, who knows?

    • povu says:

      EActivision, the ultimate evil publisher.

      • sinister agent says:

        EAUbivision. Pro: Amusing French pronunciation. Con: Undying interdimensional horror.

        • lith says:

          Dude, do NOT even joke about that.

          • Hirmetrium says:

            Of course we can.

            Imagine the DRM:
            “TOS: Your computer is actually not your computer. You may have paid for it, built it with your own blood sweat and tears, but it’s actually ours now you have put software on it. At any time, we can remotely wipe your PC if we see any sort of internet traffic other than our authorised launcher client with this game.

            Oh, and if we want, we’ll make sure to hack your steam account/password too.”

          • Milky1985 says:

            But one of there customer relations people would come out and say that although they have the power in the eula tehy would never actually use its,its just there cause everyone else has it for there protection

            So everyone would see it as ok!

    • skorpeyon says:

      I really, truly hope that EA doesn’t buy them out, not unless there’s a very clear line drawn that keeps Blizzard Autonomous. They do a good job with their games, and EA would insist a new WoW Expansion every 4 months, a new Starcraft expansion every 6, and a new Diablo expansion every year at least, based on how they do business.

      • Jay says:

        I’d be amazed if Activision aren’t currently trying to think of some way to do the same thing. Especially after what happened with the Infinity Ward guys. I’d have assumed they were untouchable.

      • Xzi says:

        Activision already has Blizzard doing those exact things. And by extension, has already completely ruined two out of three Blizzard franchises. I’m sure they’ll find some way to fuck up the two Starcraft 2 expansions bad enough to destroy that franchise, as well.

        It doesn’t really matter what happens to Blizzard at this point. They were already sunk some time ago.

        • Bloodoflamb says:

          Yeah, no. Blizzard’s operations are autonomous from Activision. Vivendi made it clear that Blizzard would act of its own volition in the development of its properties. Blizzard is the one that has been ruining their properties.

          • Jay says:

            And the IW guys had written contracts promising them direct creative control of their property. That ended well.

          • boundless08 says:

            Someone left this link on another blizzvision/actizard post and I thought it was a great read

            http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=128252

            Blizzard still have to answer to shareholders and the people put above them.

            Maybe we should kickstart a fund to buy blizzard back? :D

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            boundless08, thank you for that link. Unfortunately, I think it made me too sick to my stomach to continue my delicious root beer and spice rum mixed drink. Oh well. It can’t all be sunshine and lollipops. *barf*

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I can assure you no publisher can actually buy out Activision. EA’s assets need to almost triple to be even physically possible to buy Activision, and EA are the biggest of them all. Not to mention I am not sure it would be legally possible for EA to buy them out in the first place, fair competition and all.

      • Quarex says:

        Has everyone posting in this story gone mad and forgotten that Nexon America is, by last month’s estimates (remember, how they were thinking about buying EA), a game company three times the size of EA? Surely they are now salivating at the thought of buying Activision-Blizzard instead?

        • Brosepholis says:

          That was a mistranslation from a Korean press release. Nexon aren’t considering buying EA (nor could they, considering their size).

      • adonf says:

        Smaller companies buy bigger ones all the time, lookup LBO. I don’t know how much in debt either company is so it might not be possible in this case, but you cannot ignore this possibility just because EA is smaller and Activision.

    • Chandos says:

      Why the assumption that it would be a pure video game publisher to buy Activision? How about Time Warner or other media giants?

      • sinister agent says:

        Misplaced optimism, I guess. It’ll probably be some company that has no idea what games are supposed to do. Or maybe, as you said, someone outside the games industry.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        Time Warner is already in the business and has been for a very long time. Did you miss who published Batman: Arkham City? It was Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

        • Jay says:

          He never said they weren’t, he just said they published more than just videogames.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Google. Or Facebook.

    • nategator says:

      Micro$oft buys Activision. It may be a foreign transaction and thus burn up some of Redmond’s foreign cash reserves that they cannot repatriate for tax purposes. More importantly, being able to lock up CoD for the Xbox and ensure that Blizzard pushes Windows gaming would be attractive.

      Plus, it just seems like the two companies see the world in the same way. Heck, M$ management might be a step up for the peons at Activision and despite the Bungie breakup, M$ can keep its hands off of studio independence when necessary.

      Finally, Activision may have some mobile/tablet properties to feed to Windows 8.

      • Srethron says:

        If Microsoft bought them out, it would be just like when they bought out Bungie. Suddenly all of Blizzard and Activision’s games would be Xbox only and get redesigned for gamepads. Years later we’d get ok but too late ports for Windows 9.

    • oddshrub says:

      EA couldn’t even buy activision blizzard in their wildest dreams. Shit activision blizzard nets 1/3 of EA’s total worth each year. :p

      It’s going to be a big financial group that buys it, if anyone, and I just hope it’s not Chinese.

    • zeroskill says:

      Why the hell would Valve want to buy Activision-Blizzard?

    • Zihua says:

      Valve? What are you smoking? World of Warcraft alone is bigger than Valve.

  2. MythArcana says:

    I can see why with that last train wreck of a release. The commercials still blare across the TV during my sporting events and I have something extra to giggle about as I still enjoy my $60 worth of snacks.

    Plus, Bobby Kotlick. Enough said.

    • Brun says:

      I’ve been enjoying my $60 worth of game though…

      But yeah. Kotick is an ass. Here’s hoping he gets canned in the M&A shakeup.

      • MythArcana says:

        Great! You must be that one guy who can log in that everyone’s talking about. :D

        • Eric_CC says:

          You’re wildly misinformed. Aside from the first day or so, I have had zero issues and put quite a lot of time into the game.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            There was at least 1 further “outage” that got widely reported after release (as in, not rolled into the mess directly after release).

          • Brun says:

            Yes. Curious that it was so widely reported, though. I don’t remember a news story every time WoW’s servers went down.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            Given that it’s supposedly “single player” if you choose to do so, outages are much more interesting as a topic. Almost all MMOs have them regularly, but that’s basically part of the territory. Other multiplayer games like CoD, etc, don’t generally… certainly not for long hours. Single players simply shouldn’t experience that at all (which is why outages on DRM systems blocking single player also gets the occasional report)

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            sonofsanta says:

            @Brun: I think people had a certain amount of understanding that that nature of WoW required a server. Not quite so clear cut with D3.

          • etho says:

            WoW’s not single player.

            Simple enough.

          • briktal says:

            @Brun That’s because they got it out of their systems 8 years ago. “Glad the stress test made it clear that something was needed to fix the lag and queue issues so they could have stuff working for the retail launch! “

          • Phantoon says:

            WoW also had two things at its shaky launch-

            Free gametime for when the servers went down
            A lifetime subscription for $150.

            Both of those died faster than any analogy I can come up with because it was that fast.

            Also, WoW didn’t have the exposure, or hype that Diablo 3 did. It was new IP, and a big risk for Blizzard. It seems so simple now, but the game could’ve easily failed, too. In fact, had SWG not shifted to attempt to become a WoW clone, WoW would’ve had decent competition out of the gate, which would’ve changed the dynamic- sure SWG never pulled in nearly as many people, but it could’ve expanded and brought in more people.

            Part of Warcraft’s success was luck. Diablo 3’s success was mostly hype.

          • Brun says:

            I would argue that WoW wasn’t exactly new IP – the Warcraft universe was already well-established by three extremely successful RTS games prior to the MMO. I think Blizzard was counting on a certain degree of success simply by scooping up longtime fans of the RTS’s.

            But that’s really just splitting hairs. You’re absolutely correct that a great deal of WoW’s success was luck. I’d also argue that in addition, the release of WoW was impeccably timed. It didn’t feel ahead of its time (on the game evolutionary timescale), but it wasn’t too late either.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          I didn’t buy Diablo 3.

          Instead I threw 86 dollars on Grim Dawn kickstarter. I feel like such a boss. Please do tell me diablo is a failure (ha ha). It pleases me in a truly diabolical sense.

          • fish99 says:

            As much as I’m pissed at Blizz for all the launch issues, and as much as I dislike many aspect of D3s design, you’re still missing a great game IMO.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          There were 2 days and a total of maybe 8 hours where I could not log in. Granted I have a job so I was only trying to play a few hours a day and not 20, but there were hardly massive outages. Just a few specific ones.

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            There have been a fair few since, nothing major, just server polishing or whatnot.

            Still. Single player game and all that.

          • Khatzen says:

            You really are what people would refer to as a “Blizzard fanboy”.

            I really enjoy Diablo 3 but to say theres no issues due to the always online system is a lie.

            Just last night (7 June) I had latency of between 200-700ms and when it jumped to above 250ms the game froze still, 2 seconds later it would unfreeze and I’d be stood in the middle of a pile of dead bodies with low health.

            When I logged into League of Legends my latency was around 35ms.

            Logged back into Diablo… 300ms. This happened from about 7:30pm until 11:30pm.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            What are you even saying? I am a fanboy for reporting my experiences with log in issues? Turn your brain on before posting next time. I don’t see what your experience with lag and log in issues has to do with my (or my friends for that matter) experience. We may not even live on the same continent.

        • Walf says:

          Honestly. I’ve hardly had any issues myself with logging in and enjoying the game and feel like a lot of this has been really, REALLY overblown. I want to say that can understand the frustration. But, seriously though, it’s not like this hasn’t been the only game that had a bump in the road on launch day either. Anyone remember the day Half-Life 2 launched and had the Steam requirement?

          • Ateius says:

            Yes, I do. I also remember the internet proceeding to explode with fury, some of which has still not abated to this day (check any thread on DRM and you’ll see some of the dedicated anti-Steam, forged in that crucible, snarking about how everyone seems fine with Steam DRM).

            So now someone else (Blizzard!) has slapped an online requirement on their game, and they’re having server outages, and just like with Ubisoft (AC 2, various others) and Steam (HL 2) a great many customers are upset and shouting about it. It’ll happen the next time someone does this too.

            Personally, I’ve never been unable to log in, but I have experienced a lot of lag (Several times rendering the game unplayable and twice killing me) and once having a crash because Blizzard’s servers cut out in the middle of a cutscene (which have been incredibly bad, all choppy with stuttering sound as they stream down the tubes). It has greatly impacted my single-player game experience and I’m extremely unhappy about it, thank you very much for asking.

          • ashereize says:

            @Ateius The cutscenes are stored locally :P – so you only have your harddrive read/write speed to blame. I agree with everything else you said though, so you’re not allowed to hate me. So there.

      • adammtlx says:

        Bobby Kotick isn’t going anywhere, at least not unless he wants to. He’s a savvy businessman. He knows how to sell games. Unfortunately for us, we’re on the fringes as far as the Guitar Hero/CoD masses go, and that’s who Bobby sells to. He doesn’t care about us or the games we like, which is why Activiblizzard is run the way it is. There are far more Guitar of Duty players than there are, for example, Braid lovers. That’s the bottom line, literally and figuratively.

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          drewski says:

          Yeah, the idea that Kotick gives a rats about anything other than bleeding every red cent out of Blizzard and Call of Duty fans is silly.

          He’s a businessman, his job is to take people’s money, he does that incredibly successfully. He’s not going anywhere unless he gets or the market changes.

          • Hirmetrium says:

            He’s also a walking PR disaster. The stuff he says – and the crap that came out of the IW vs Acti lawsuit will forever haunt the annals of game publishing. The man exists to squeeze that tomato puree tube until its no longer puree but his own blood coming out. And he makes sure the entire world knows that.

            “An atmosphere of fear and pessimism” was his line. I don’t want to work for a man who has publicly stated that. In fact, my company CEO is listed as a Sir for his outstanding contribution to the pharmaceutical industry.

            I guess the board doesn’t care because, as you say, he makes money. But if I was on the board, I’d be very, very worried about my company image, when Kotick can likely be easily replaced, and we may get better COD games as a result.

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            drewski says:

            I’d be worried about my company image if there was the slightest hint Kotick was going to hurt the share price, but as long as sales hold up despite him being a jerk, there’s really no incentive for shareholders or the board to rock the boat.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I don’t think the folks at Vivendi care about anything but the raw numbers. Diablo 3 sold something like 6.5 million copies in its first week and is the fastest-selling PC game of all time. Before that, the fastest-selling PC game of all time was WoW Cataclysm.

      I really don’t think poor performance by Blizzard has anything to do this decision.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        Ummm and what is the cost of running a company that releases games so scarcely? Does anyone have an estimate?

        • djbriandamage says:

          If only they could bolster those periodic releases with some regular income. A subscription or something like that.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Last time I checked 10 000 000 people give Blizzard 15 bucks every month. I most seriously doubt THEY are the problem. Or, to say it another way – don’t make me laugh.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            I think it might actually be more like 7,000,000 people right now, but that’s still a hell of a lot of steady income.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            10 000 000. Not 7, not 11, 10. The info is right there on the web for anyone to see :)

          • Ultra Superior says:

            of course, its a good business, but still its not a pure income – there are wow specific costs as well…

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Yes – 3 pizzas a day. Mate, I don’t know if you realizes this, but it’s extremely cost efficient to maintain a MMO after it has launched – just keep a barebone team that adds content, a dozen people or so, that’s it. The costs are so low they are not worth mentioning. Blizzard is the most successful studio in the world, any way you look at it it’s true.

          • Srethron says:

            If my memory does not fail me, a significant portion (larger than half?) of those 10 million pay a much smaller amount than $15 a month because of the fee arrangement Blizzard has set up with the net cafes in China. Be that as it may, even 5 million accounts paying a monthly subscription is still insane money every month.

          • Xerian says:

            I beg to differ, Xardas. I’d say Valve are more successful. They’re indie, they’re huge, they have steam which is a brilliant piece of software earning them alot of money, they help others earn money, they have one of the biggest, if not thé biggest dedicated fan-following in the industry, and they are thé best when it comes to catering to their fans. Their fans mean everything to them, as opposed to just about every other major dev or publisher. (And you know, these guys are both publishers and devs, whilst being an indie company thats worth 3+ billion dollars.)… Also, they have a ton of good-will from the fans, and they never, ever shit on their fans, unlike Blizzard for one thing. So Xardas, dream on. Success isnt just counted by the length of your cock… Or well, your monetary cock. Goodwill goes a long way. So the fact that you say they’re tyhe most successful studio in the world “ANY WAY YOU LOOK AT IT” Is just a lie. They’ve burnt out most of their goodwill, and a good bunch of their following has broken off and stopped caring.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            @ Srethron Let’s imagine they all give ONE dollar. That’s 10 000 000 dollars a month for NOTHING. This means they earn a FULL AAA BUDGET every TWO MONTHS. Are you actually going to argue WoW isn’t extremely profitable?! Around a third of the income of the entire company comes from WoW. And I am talking here about the publisher with a Call of Duty on their hands every year.

            @ Xerian I hate Blizzard and what they are now. I was talking about how successful they are in making a shitload of money. If I were talking about my favourite devs then Blizzard wouldn’t even be in the list, while Valve will rest somewhere around the top. Screw that, they will take first place.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Xardas – you’re so zealously advocating blizzard’s profitability, well, congratulations on stating the obvious, no one doubted that. However, no one here appears to know the running costs of maintaining a studio with thousands of qualified employees. Before you go on rant, yes, they are making huge profits.

          • Srethron says:

            Xardas: It is fun enough watching you build that man out of straw, don a suit of armor, mount yon horse, and tilt at him repeatedly, but you really don’t have to keep doing it. Unless that’s your thing or something.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        Vivendi, presumably, have done the research into Blizzard and Activision’s pipelines and know what’s coming.

        With new console generations booting the development cost of videogames sky high and the increasing marginalisation of anything but the most expensive, high profile games, and with sub services like WoW having peaked, it wouldn’t surprise me if Vivendi have decided that the low hanging fruit has been picked and that it’s time to direct their investment elsewhere. Where’s their next revenue growing blockbuster? The CoD games are probably fully priced into their revenue modelling, they’ll book the Diablo III profits this financial year, so it’s probably not until the Starcraft expansion hits that they have much chance of revenue growth. Perfect time to sell – their profit margin will never look fatter than it does right now.

    • vandinz says:

      Oh yea, real train wreck. What was that? Over 6 million units sold already? Oh wow, they must really need your $60. Maybe if they ask nicely? Meanwhile, I’m on my 3rd run through of a great game and all for £35! Much better value than any snacks I could’ve had.

      • Eric_CC says:

        Well said. And yet, haters are going to hate.

        • sinister agent says:

          Well, I don’t even know what game you’re talking about, and I think you’re all wrong.

        • Xzi says:

          Most of the hate is coming from people who contributed to the 6 million sold mark. After all, the vast majority of those sales came from pre-orders, release day, and soon thereafter. Therefore we can conclude that it was the Diablo name that sold it so well for them, and not the content of this Diablo game in particular. Not that long-time fans are even comfortable calling it a true Diablo game.

          And let us not forget that, prior to this, Blizzard had no history of releasing sub-par games. The shittiness of Diablo 3 will halt it’s long-term sales and hurt the sales for future games released by Blizzard, but the quick cash grab was successful in the short-term. Is it any wonder that Vivendi is looking to jump ship now, at this very moment? They’ve lost faith in Blizzard as far as pleasing the majority of their fanbase goes.

          • oddshrub says:

            No history of releasing sub-par games? Clearly you’re one of the people who did not play WoW the first 6 months.

            3 hour log in queues you could have the pleasure of rejoining every time you crashed. Classes that weren’t finished, I mean, most people won’t believe it today but at release druids couldn’t kill normal monsters from level 50-60 in catform… In fact you had to pop out of your bear form one or two times to heal…. And this isn’t mentioning hunters which were almost as broken.
            No battlegrounds.
            No functional raids.
            Loads of server crashes, loads of client crashes (remember the queue?)

            Etc.

            Sure it wasn’t as bad as say Shadowbane (which is probably the worst launch in mmo history), it wasn’t as bad as any Funcom release but it sure wasn’t as good as Diablo 3 and it took them 6 months to even finish a couple of the classes.

            As for vivendi jumping ship, well, look at what they own. Activision Blizzard (and sierra before it) is peanuts to them.

      • Phantoon says:

        People agreeing on a thing makes it instantly good. See also:

        The Crusades
        Modern Warfare 2, 3, Black Ops, etc etc etc
        Jersey Shore
        American Idol
        The Holocaust (BAM HOW BOUT SOME GODWIN’S LAW YEAH I WENT THERE WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT YEAH I JUST COMPARED YOU TO NAZIS LOOK AT THIS HYPERBOLE YOU CAN’T EVEN DEAL WITH HOW HYPER THIS HYPERBOLE IS)
        Slavery
        SWTOR
        And most offensively: The Big Bang Theory

        So sure, Kotick will be laughing all the way to the bank. But by virtue of “getting people outside mainstream gaming to become the mainstream” does not mean it is good, only that values have been changed, modified, or lowered.

        To draw a parallel, this game is being heralded as a terrific example of the genre, has a decent difficulty curve, etc. But it’s like comparing a Popcap games, which are casual by definition and therefore aimed at that crowd, deep and complex.

        A game isn’t hard if it has a gear grind. It’s a gear grind. Call the duck a duck. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m ending my bizarre off rails rant to go play some roguelikes, like Stone Soup.

    • Jerakal says:

      It’s like he really is channeling /v/.

    • Eric_CC says:

      Train wreck of a release? On its first day, Diablo III amassed 4.7 million players worldwide. It has been enormous success. Despite what the vocal minority will have you believe, for fans of this type of game it’s very, very good – arguably the best of its kind. In every way you can measure it, Diablo’s release is a win.

      • Phantoon says:

        Players implies they were able to connect.

        BAM!

      • sinister agent says:

        I measure success mainly in units of egg delivered. Diablo 3 was a dismal failure on this scale.

      • CorruptBadger says:

        diablo 3 is like a chocolate bar, lots of people will buy it, and at first glance it tastes good, but you later realise its bad for you. Much in the same way this game sold in volumes, and is short-lived fun until you realised its a failed iteration of the last game, with a worse atmosphere, dumbed down gameplay (most probably to make it easier for console porting) and a poor story. (read the book, the order, its much better than the games story)

        • Milky1985 says:

          When diablo 3 was first out , all of my mates were playing it, our ventrillo server had 16 people all playing it (well playing the error code bingo with the only number being 37 but you get the idea)

          Cut to last night, one of my mates came on asked if anyoen was still playing, silence.

          We are already bored, we are already annoyed with blizzard for the crap they put us through and we have no intention of paying any money on teh AH when it comes out.

          Never has a game died so quickly in our group, SWTOR lasted longer.

    • Jay says:

      There’s been some prime dick-headery in gaming over the years, but the Kotick/Activision stuff’s the first time I’ve found it bad enough that I’d actually feel ashamed to give them any more money. And somehow they seem to be getting a much easier run than EA or Ubi ever did, with no shortage of defenders even with an ever-developing legacy of treating their customers like absolute idiots. It’s embarrassing, frankly.

      • Jerakal says:

        If I didn’t still legitimately enjoy every game they put out, I’d feel bad too.

        • Jay says:

          I’m not arguing the relative merit of the games. I’m just not comfortable supporting their business practices. That and the “lol, suck on these sales figures!” attitude from some quarters is frankly baffling and something I’d rather not have any part of.

          • Jerakal says:

            No one is comfortable with that.

          • Phantoon says:

            Except all the people that do it, like somehow the value of their game is increased because people that don’t normally buy games bought it, and vice versa with it being cheapened every time someone says critical things about it like that will ruin their experience of the game.

            Honestly, it’s hilarious when you watch the genesis of fanboyism. SWTOR was a hoot as an observer, because I was able to track one guy leave WoW, bitch talk WoW constantly for the three months he was on SWTOR, then begin grumbling and quietly slip back only to claim WoW was the new old messiah, and Diablo 3 will be the best game ever.

            Like some people just can’t enjoy things if other people aren’t enjoying them too. Gods forbid anyone enjoy something for their own reasons, apparently- but then again, this must be why Jersey Shore is popular too.

            I’m not knocking those that honestly enjoy the game, though I think it’s terribly dumbed down- but the people that do were the people that were going to enjoy it anyways, and most of them won’t spend their time in comments threads on websites they’ve never been to before defending a game they spent more time defending than playing, and more time on Facebook than gaming.

    • thestage says:

      Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be this stupid.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      6.5 million copies sold sure is a train wreck, no doubt about it. Keep on trollin’.

      • Xerian says:

        Copies sold doesnt equal success. They lost most of their goodwill with their fans just now, and that wont be coming back. Their sales’ll be declining for the next few games. And I dare bet a hundred bucks on that.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Sure, shareholders care so much about some vague goodwill. Does it sell? Does it cost them anything, does it earn anything? Nope?

          The only thing they see are 6.5 million copies sold. As far as they are concerned, that’s success. As far as ANYONE is concerned that’s success and calling it anything else is, like I said, trolling.

  3. Cosmonaut Zero says:

    For a split second all my braid had picked up on was the words “Activision,” “sell,” and “Blizzard.” I was hoping desperately that Activision were finally going to set Blizzard free from their evil death grip of death and grippiness.

    But then I got a sad.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Blizzard took the Activision soul stone on their forehead. They hoped they could control it, prevent the evil from destroying the world.

      But they were not strong enough, and the stone corrupted them. There is no way to remove the stone anymore, aside from killing them.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Blizzard are entirely left at their own whim, Activision doesn’t influence them in absolutely any way. Whatever dumb decisions Blizzard has been making, it’s their fault and their fault only.

      And yes, I do know people who works for Blizzard, so I do know this is the truth.

      • D3xter says:

        Yeah, sure, whatever you say oh truth-speaker xD

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Have they ever been rushed to release a game? Have we ever seen them NOT do their famous polishing act? Has Activision ever stopped them from doing whatever they want? No? So basically all of what I just mentioned plus the word of people working at the company against some random internet guy who hates Activision and prefers to blame them instead Blizzard.

          Yeah, I am the truth speaker on this matter.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I totally know a guy who knows a guy who is the cleaner for a guy who once met Bobby Kotik’s sister’s uncle’s pet gazebo, and he says you’re wrong, though.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            trolololololololololololololo :P

      • Milky1985 says:

        The people who work for blizzard don’t know there own company then, they still have to report to shareholders etc.

        A collection of info that has been linked before on the subject :

        http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=128252

        • Xardas Kane says:

          I thought we were talking here about creative control? They haz it.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Buzko says:

    “which has seen a John Walker worth 0.89 Euros.”

    I don’t get it. Did you accidenty something?

    On-topic, maybe Notch could buy Activision.

    • ninjapirate says:

      Not unless he has $13.4 billion laying around at his disposal.

  5. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Apple has a lot of cash on hand, imagine the cries and wails if they bought Acti-blizz.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Apple would be hailed as innovative for inventing video games or something.

      • Createx says:

        Imo Blizzard is already like the Apple of game development, just with more slimes, oozes, and beelzebubs.

        • Brun says:

          No, I’d argue that Valve is the Apple of video game development. Blizzard is the Microsoft.

          Or perhaps, Blizzard IS the Apple, EA is the Microsoft, and Valve is the Linux.

          • Premium User Badge

            mpk says:

            Isn’t EA the EA of game development?

          • Hoaxfish says:

            EA is the Enron of video games.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Apple can ship on time.

          • Hug_dealer says:

            Blizzard is straight apple. Not only do they borrow basically all of their ideas from other games. See warcraft and starcraft and their similarities to some tabletop brands and other products.

            Then people think that Blizzard invented the ARPG.

          • Brun says:

            In the history of innovation, popularizing something new is always more important than inventing it. I don’t think anyone can argue that Blizzard didn’t popularize the ARPG.

          • Hug_dealer says:

            they definately did. But to many people think that they invented it, Just like how they think that Warhammer ripped off warcraft and starcraft.

          • Phantoon says:

            Well there you go, Hugs. If you want a foolproof way to find out if a fanboy is truly an idiot, just ask them about that.

            You can’t reason with anyone that arbitrarily eschews the concept of ‘time’ when it’s inconvenient for their side.

          • Eukatheude says:

            I don’t think Valve recycles old ideas and markets them as new.
            And Gabe isn’t an asshole.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            @ hug_dealer: Elvis invented rock’n’roll!

          • Hug_dealer says:

            im pretty sure apple invented rock and roll.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mo says:

      Tim Cook just said (at D10) that Apple isn’t interested in the console business. And why would they be? Videogames are small potatoes compared to selling more mainstream devices at a higher margin.

      • ReV_VAdAUL says:

        There have been articles on Eurogamer about Apple maybe doing something with games on Apple TV. I know nothing about this sort of stuff beyond Apple being very rich and thus capable of buying Acti-Blizz if they wanted to.

    • Vagrant says:

      Engadget would start reviewing BlizzoVision games @ 5 stars.

  6. trjp says:

    The key thing to remember here is that all those figures and the concept of ‘selling’ their stake have nothing to do with reality or real money or ownership or control – it’s all part of the weird and wonderful world of major corporation finance.

    Imagine a world where ‘owning’ something and ‘investing’ in something are so far adrift from your own personal versions of those things that there is no map to cover the ground inbetween.

    A Twilight Zone – if you like – where common sense and reason are warped by contracts and legal agreements and stuff which would make your head melt.

    In other words, nothing to see here, move along.

    • Phantoon says:

      Well, unless I’m completely mistaken, Vivendi would need only have the largest majority of stocks to remain the majority shareholder. They could drop to 31%, and as long as no one else had 32%, they’d still be the majority. The only sticky part comes when enough people would group together to get a majority above theirs, but let’s be honest here. Vivendi will just sell to 51%, because they don’t need any more than that, and they’ll have lost nothing.

      • Jimbo says:

        If nobody controlled more than half of the shares there wouldn’t be a majority shareholder.

  7. sinisterralphy says:

    Does this mean their many business anaylists have decided that Activision Blizzard has reached its peak, and can only go down hill from here. So saving them selfs from even more added decline in share prices to vivendi group?

    • Brun says:

      More likely that ActiBlizz is actually a relatively small part of Vivendi’s profit, given some of its other properties.

      • Duckee says:

        Given that the purpose is to maximise profits for the shareholders, they probably have estimated that selling the Brand, with properties and all, would be more profitable than (ie. high sale value) keeping it. This of course comes from the short sightedness and the crazy focus on cash grabs corporate US has.

        • Zeewolf says:

          Vivendi are French. But yeah, same thing.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          Or maybe they’re retargetting their asset portfolio to a higher growth sector more related to their core business.

          Not every business sale is a cash grab. Sometimes it’s just better for everyone if part of your business goes somewhere else.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      It does not mean that. It means they need a lot of money ASAP or that Activision’s value isn’t going up fast enough, nothing more. It’s silly how you people seem to have already buried Activision/ Blizzard even though last time I checked they were going strong.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        They’ve buried themselves, in my eyes. Can’t remember the last time I bought an Activision title, and the last time I bought a Blizzard title that I *didn’t* regret was the *original* Starcraft.

        (This is not through actively avoiding them, it’s just how things have played out for me. I may well be avoiding them in the future based on this.)

  8. Chmilz says:

    It’ll probably get picked up by another megadoucheconglomerate, like Comcast or AT&T, and have all of their content raped by social media and vertical tie-ins.

    Think always online sucks? Wait until you find out you can only win if you us Comcast internets or tweet your lootz, brought to you by AT&T…

  9. Sidion says:

    So it’s not like the company is being sold, it’s that the majority share is being sold.

    That is HARDLY the former. Here I was hoping Karma would strike back at Blizz for them ruining my D3 experience.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Maybe they’ll list them on D3’s RMAH, or Kickstarter

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      Maybe my knowledge of publically traded companies is wrong, but I was told that owning at least 51% of a company’s shares effectively means you’re the boss of it. What makes selling the shares (i.e. your control) so different from selling the company, then?

      • Somerled says:

        Your knowledge of publicly traded companies is wrong.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          Not especially. The majority shareholder can essentially appoint board members as it pleases, and it’s the board who run the company. Usually in situations where there are significant minority stakeholders present, the majority ownership will allow 1-3 “independent” directors on the board to ensure the minority stakeholders are “looked after”, but ultimately the majority shareholder always controls the destiny of the subsidiary. It’s the reason most jurisdictions require consolidated accounts published once ownership passes 50.1% – you may not own the whole company, but you effectively control it.

          • Somerled says:

            Yes, but still wrong. Neither the shareholders nor the board (which should be beholden to the shareholder vote, but technically aren’t) “effectively control” the company in any detail except large scale business decisions. A captain of a ship, appointed by its owners, doesn’t steer the ship, but does tell it where to go and stirs up shit when it doesn’t get there on time.

            What that does mean is the scariest part of this is that Vivendi, through their board members, may decide to split up the company and sell off parts of it, instead of selling it as a whole.

            Also, a majority share isn’t needed to have a controlling interest, so selling only part of their shares might still leave Vivendi on top. Alternatively, you could say they could replace key management as well and then have much finer control, but that would be a much bigger story than this.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            I’m not sure what you’re saying – the board/majority shareholders control the company because they have the power to fire people who don’t do what they want. If the board doesn’t do what the shareholders want, they remove the board members who are opposing them from the board. If the CEO isn’t doing what the board wants, the board fires the CEO.

  10. Hoaxfish says:

    Sell them to EA, then I don’t have to distribute my distaste across multiple businesses… I don’t think EA has enough money to buy them though.

  11. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    It’ll be EA. I mean, if they’re looking to sell it, who’s in a better position to buy?

    Also, EWWWWWWWW.

    That said, while the idea of a sort of Evil Publisher Voltron actually occurring is hideous, I do like the name “Evil Publisher Voltron”, and kind of want to use it in conversation constantly now. So a small part of me wants them to merge.

    • Phantoon says:

      Actually, EA isn’t in a good position to do that. SWTOR has cost them millions, Mass Effect 3’s ending hurt their branding, plus that series is done for now, and Dragon Age 2 was abysmal. EA’s stocks have fallen to the point they were during the financial crisis in 2008 and I highly doubt they have fluid capital enough for a takeover of their largest competitor, who is doing healthier than them anyways.

    • Jimbo says:

      Market value of Acti-Blizz is 3x higher than EA’s, and ~10x higher than EA’s cash reserves… so probably not.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Pfft. Amateurs. Here’s what you do. You take on some huge debt. You use it to buy Blizzard. Then you move that debt to Blizzard. In the meantime, you pay youself a big big salary. Done.

  12. Fumarole says:

    Vivendi’s CEO must have been disconnected from a Diablo 3 server.

  13. McDan says:

    I’ll give you some lemon bonbons, some beef jerky and a packet of skips for RPS.

  14. stealthfighterx says:

    Maybe Nexon are going to buy them? They were interested in EA about a month ago, so it wouldn’t surpise me.

  15. Ultra-Humanite says:

    Probably more quit while they are ahead than anything else. Buy low sell high.

    • NeuralNet says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. Guitar Hero was an omen! No surprise considering they have been milking the teat till the last drop.

    • grundus says:

      Which is ironic (I think?) given the Activision tradition of getting an IP and then riding it into the ground like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. Buy low, never move on, discard the dead husk of what was once a good game, buy again (but make a shitload of money in the process).

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        Sell their stake in ActivisionBlizzard
        Buy EA at their current bargain basement price
        Hire Bobby Kotick to run VivendEA
        Fire thousands of developers, close studios
        Concentrate IP into most profitable 4 or 5 franchises
        Quadruple share price
        Sell EA
        Buy THQ

        And so on.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Yeah, I don’t think that’s possible. I don’t think THQ will survive that long :P

  16. NeuralNet says:

    Well it’s simple if this is true; Vivendi knows the future plans of both companies and wants out while it considers both companies to be worth the most from this point onwards. WoW will inevitably fade and it will be extremely difficult to repeat its success with a new MMO. COD is running on fumes as far as creativity goes, and both companies are stagnant with regards to creativity and innovation with both existing and new IPs.

    • adammtlx says:

      Basically, Activision Blizzard has become every major record company and movie studio. Only with games.

      Yeah, that sounds about right.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Blizzard has Titan coming up and Activision has Bungie’s new game signed up. Think they’ll bomb?

      • NeuralNet says:

        I don’t think they’ll bomb at all, I just don’t think they will sell as well as their predecessors, which to a company like Activision is a failing franchise.

    • kibble-n-bullets says:

      If it is all about the share price than absolutely, now is the time to sell as it is a reasonable bet that right now is the high water mark for Activision/Blizzard.

      The decline of WoW’s popularity is inevitable. I’m not talking about being unprofitable, just being as profitable as it is right now. You also cannot guarantee that Blizzard will handle downsizing all things WoW properly, so it is another x factor to worry about. You also cannot generate a generate a greater maximum hype for the Starcraft and Diablo franchises than of late.

      Everything console side is approaching the great unknown with the next generation. We have but one more release for major franchises and then what? It is a total crap shoot as to what franchise will be the next big thing. What are the odds there will not be an out-and-out better console shooter than the creatively bankrupt Call Of Duty series? All of the built up momentum for every franchise can be undone in a single release because gamers are walking into the next console round with their eyes open.

      So yes, I would think now would be the right time to sell based on share price.

      edit: grammar

  17. Mordsung says:

    Now if only we could figure out how to amputate the Activision from the Blizzard.

  18. Premium User Badge

    LTK says:

    To give us an attempt at a better understanding at these numbers I think you should write these numbers in full from now on. Vivendi owns $13.400.000.000 worth of company. Last year they had sales of $4.760.000.000, and earnings of $1.330.000.000.

    Their profits in 2011 are four hundred times what the Humble Indie Bundle 5 sold so far. Does that tell you anything?

    For Vivendi’s share, you can buy four thousand three hundred mansions like this one. Does that provide any perspective?

    No .You know what? It’s impossible to put this into perspective. I don’t think any human being should be allowed to govern such insane amounts of money. It’s simply beyond comprehension.

    • Phantoon says:

      If you’re going to write the numbers in full, you need to use commas, because you people are backwards and insane for using decimals in place of commas.

      Also, I learned that the Humble Bundle commands a metric fuck tonne of money.

      • Saiko Kila says:

        In Europe only UK uses points as decimal separators. Personally I think this is backwards and insane. Because why not.

  19. Eej says:

    A quick google can actually tell you why this is happening. Vivendi purchased a controlling stake (62%) in Activision for $9.8 billion. At the time it valued the shares at $27.50. They are saying they are considering getting rid of undervalued assets, this normally means that they believe Activision’s current value of $11.88 is lower than what they believe it should be at.

    This is also another way of saying that Activison’s stock is performing like garbage and since it’s not growing in value it’s just dead weight. Selling their shares would free up that capital for them to invest in things with a higher return on investment.

    I understand you’re not a business writer but if you’re going to cover the business side of games you should exercise your journalistic muscles and do your due diligence.

    Additionally they only have a controlling stake in the company. Vivendi makes money from Activision when the latter gains in share value. BLOPS2 or Pandaria are known quantities and their expected success is already reflected in the current stock value. If the two games do even better then what everyone else is expecting then yes, there would be a jump in price. However, if BLOPS2 is expected to sell 10 million units and they sell 10 million units, the price will hardly budge at all. Activision will make a truckload of money but Vivendi won’t see any of it.

    • Jesus H. Christ says:

      umm…dividends.

      • Jimbo says:

        ~$120M worth of dividends by my math.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Sweet FA, in the big scheme of things.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            $120m a quarter would represent approximately 1/7th of Vivendi’s total profit per year.

            So reasonably significant.

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            Is that the yearly figure which is paid quarterly or the quarterly figure though… but yeah, that is more important…

          • Jimbo says:

            It’s annual, but still $120M more than the zero implied here “Activision will make a truckload of money but Vivendi won’t see any of it.”

            Rising share prices aren’t the only way to make money from a company, as was being implied.

        • Eej says:

          Which is roughly equal to a 3% increase in stock price at $11.88 (which no doubt has changed by this post) per quarter. Lots for us but peanuts to them.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      This is by far the best comment on this articles. That’s basically the first thing that crossed my mind, at this point it isn’t very likely that the Activision’s share value is as rampant as it was the last several years.

  20. Lemming says:

    Interesting thing is, I bet they wouldn’t be adverse to selling off just the Blizzard part if an offer was made. Selling it off in chunks doesn’t seem unlikely for a corporation that size.

  21. marctaro says:

    Perhaps they are divesting themselves of guilt? All those years of gaming addiction, they can’t bear the moral implications any longer?

  22. SkittleDiddler says:

    I’d buy that for a dollar!

  23. Inglourious Badger says:

    The trick with big digital businesses is to sell while they’re worth loads, not afterwards. So it’s Vivendi saying they think this is the peak (or the peak has been and it’s only going downhill from here).

    Makes sense with their biggest cash cows already well milked, now might be an apt time to sell some shares and make a chunk of cash for investing in… moon cheese or something…. before they pump investment into the next generation. If gamers are expecting graphics and artistic detail like that in Squeenixs’ E3 thing then we might be approaching a point where the majority of game budgets don’t meet game earnings.

    Maybe. Or time will tell that they quit too soon and the world’s leading entertainment business kept on growing again

  24. Premium User Badge

    bear912 says:

    I hope someone buys a majority share and fires Mr. Kotick.

  25. Joshua Northey says:

    You should put something up about the 38 studios bankruptcy.

    • marcusfell says:

      They have posted on that.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I mean the actual bankruptcy, which happened today, so no they haven’t posted on it.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Ya! Bankruptcy! Since corporations are people, that means 38 Studios is going to have a hard time getting a high paying job or loan in the future. Oh, wait. Corporations can just fold and not have to deal with any of the negative fallout of bankruptcy.

          Sucks to be Rhode Island.

          Also sucks to be an actual person.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            I agree the way relatively wealthy owners are able to walk away from debts through limited liability is one of the more grating parts of capitalism, but it is a necessary one.

            I do think the owners likely took a pretty sizable financial loss if that is any consolation, and honestly the State of Rhode Island deserves no sympathy, this was a horrible deal from day one and the people of that corrupt state got what they deserved when they ran as poorly advised ED project as this.

  26. Iliya Moroumetz says:

    Not very knowledgeable about the whats and or whys this has happened, but it does make me raise my eyebrow and wonder about the hows.

    • oddshrub says:

      Bunch of big suits gets in a room and discusses a price. Company changes hands. :p

      The whys aren’t really for us to know but it’s not uncommon for big companies to sell subsidiaries that aren’t important to the main business of the mother company. The best possible time to sell a subsidiary is when it’s doing well and activision blizzard have probably never been in a better position financially.

  27. WMain00 says:

    My immediate thought as to a possible buyer is News Corporation, which would be very bad news indeed.

    Other than that, maybe a Chinese consortium.

    • RakeShark says:

      My bets are hedged on either a Chinese consortium, or some bored young Russian billionaire.

  28. wodin says:

    CoD can only go on so long…maybe they are selling it off before it dies a slow death.

    • Jimbo says:

      Nothing lasts forever (see Guitar Hero), but Acti-Blizz seem to have a knack for coming up with the next big thing (or developing something into the next big thing) whereas EA in comparison always seem to be reactionary and lagging behind.

      Acti have the Bungie MMO and Blizzard’s Titan on the way, and I wouldn’t exactly bet against one or even both of them going on to become WoW/CoD sized cash cows for them. Diablo 3 has potential if they can keep people playing and using the RMAH when it’s finally up (which is totally gross, but you just know it will pay off for them).

    • Brun says:

      I imagine COD’s death will be quick and violent (i.e., a crash) rather than slow.

  29. Walf says:

    I’m kind of curious if the company could turn around and buy themselves out from Vivindi Universal and become it’s own independent companies again. Not having to bow down to a lot of investors who may or may not understand the game industry might make things really good again for them and consumers.

    I’m not sure how much money Vivindi throws and Activision-BLizzard though either to help keep the company afloat here either.

  30. kikito says:

    It is very simple really.

    Someone thinks he can make a lot of profit right now, or wait and then maybe get more profit in a long term. So he’s decided to make the big profit now.

    • alundra says:

      How can this be?? Diablo 3 was an unqualified success, I mean, 7 millions copies licensed and all, and we all know 1 sale = 1 satisfied customer, ain’t it right??

      This news is actually delicious, two of the bigger evils in the industry right now have lost their shine in the eye of their overlords.

      COD (insert whatever the current version is) must have not been that big of a success, heck maybe even the entire COD franchise is slowing down, I’ve seen it on sale a lot more lately. And the always online DRM protected RMAH house project must have been seriously compromised, with all the hacks, bad press and legislation problems in some countries.

      http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Diablo-3-Session-Spoofing-Real-Do-Join-Public-Games-43162.html

      Really, people can’t be that stupid as to put their personal info and CC details into the hands of bliz-vis….wait, don’t answer that.

  31. wuwul says:

    Well, I guess they either need money, or they think they can sell it for more than it’s worth.

    Regarding Blizzard, there’s Diablo3 RMAH and Titan on the horizon, which may be further smashing successes for them (but may also be failures).

    • gwathdring says:

      I doubt it. They’re huge. And they’re worth an incredible amount of money. As for their worth in meaningfully advancing the medium … much more argument to be had there.

  32. Fearzone says:

    Um… /scratches head until scalp bleeds… Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo… and Vivendi wants to unload that? Well I guess it is all depends how much the buyer is willing to pay. If the perceived value is greater than the actual value then it makes sense. /gets a bandaid.

  33. nzmccorm says:

    It’s important to remember that Blizzard’s autonomy has never actually been genuine. They’re answerable to the same people as Kotick who expect the same things, which I’d bet is a big part of why they’re on the forefront of monetizing their multiplayer properties.

  34. Premium User Badge

    cairbre says:

    Maybe the fruit vendor will buy them

  35. gwathdring says:

    But … why the hell would you get rid of a company that successful? Because it’s percent profit has possibly peaked? I don’t buy that answer. It still profits enormously, whether or not it’s accelerating. Maybe there’s something underneath that we as customers aren’t aware of.

    Then again, airlines think the best solution to uncontrollable economic downturns is to fire all of their employees … so maybe I shouldn’t be looking for any sort of sense in this.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Airlines are usually massively in debt, have few assets to sell and can’t easily generate increased revenues during slow periods. Staff tend to be one of the few controllable costs, which is why they get fired. Either shed staff or go broke.

      As for Activision, it’s pretty common for companies to divest themselves of subsidiaries when they’re not making as much profit as they used to. If Vivendi think Activision’s yield has peaked and will recede in the short to medium term (as they bring expensive MMOs to market and begin development for the next generation), it makes sense to sell them now while their value is highest.

      • gwathdring says:

        Southwest seemed to manage fine without the kinds of massive layoffs seen in other airlines. It isn’t the airlines choosing between strict bankruptcy and cutting staff. It’s the airlines choosing between competitive pricing with sustained profit margins and cutting staff. Plenty of airlines have gone under, sure. It’s a rough industry in a lot of ways. But the nice looking numbers just aren’t there when you compare major airlines before and after massive cuts.

        It’s the accelerator logic that bothers me so much. We aren’t making “as much profit.” Our profits are down 1%. Our gains are less than last year. Sure, you don’t want losses and it’s nice to be able to grow as a company … but that mentality is a large part of our boom-bust cycle. Prices can’t go up forever. Profits can’t go up forever. Neither does stable profit, I suppose. But businesses can sustain themselves and continue paying company salaries and expenses for a lot longer than they can maintain exponential growth.

        The rules of our economy exist. I understand a few of them, very little about a lot of them, and recognize that they are the reality of how companies interact and investors make decisions. But they’re still BONKERS. The first time I read an explanation of how banking debt can be finagled into money added into the economy as a whole … argh. The sorts of nonsense that make up the day-to-day goings on of our stock market drive me insane. Our market fluctuates in a macroscopic sense based on the President giving a press conference … not about new things no one knew before. But retreading old ground both in terms of his or her views and goings on in the world. That’s INSANE. Aboslutely insane.

        Which is a tangent. A big tangent. Sorry. But the essence is this: just because it is routine practice in the world of economists and banks and stocks doesn’t mean it makes any sense whatsoever. If it does make sense, it is in spite of our current body of economic practice and theory not because of it.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Public companies aren’t about growth, they aren’t even about relative growth, they’re about increasing relative growth.

          Basically if the CEO isn’t doing better than he was last quarter, and better than everybody else in his sector then he’s going to get the bullet.

          This leads to all kinds of insane behaviour from mature companies.

        • Brun says:

          Southwest is a special case – its fuel hedging scheme saved it from many of the problems other airlines had when fuel prices were spiking during 2008-2010, problems that were only compounded by the concurrent financial crisis. It’s also important to note that Southwest took an enormous risk with its fuel hedging – it could easily have backfired and if it had, it would have quickly destroyed the company. Fortunately for Southwest and its employees, the bet paid off in a big way, and it meant that Southwest could avoid the price hikes and fees to which other airlines had to resort to avoid going bankrupt from fuel costs. That translated into increased goodwill from customers, which is why they’re in the best position financially of all of the major US carriers.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          There’s the old joke of how do you become a millionaire? Be a billionaire and start an airline.

          Basically, most of the airlines aren’t profitable anyway so they’re not panicking over a few lost dividends – they’re last gasping to stay alive. Southwest are indeed a special case, just like Apple and, well, Blizzard.

  36. caddyB says:

    I should ask my dad if he wants to buy it for my birthday next month or something. Maybe he’s a wizard who can just make money out of mana, and I don’t know it yet.

    Although I’ve never seen him drink anything blue, so he might not be a spellcaster after all. No he also doesn’t memorize stuff from weird books. Other than facebook.

  37. Enso says:

    What we do, right, is start a kickstarter, get this, where we all raise the money to buy all the shares. Genius.

  38. Michael Isenberg says:

    There are a lot of reasons a corporation would want to sell or spin-off a division, many of which have nothing to do with profitability. One possibility is that the division is a different enough business that it has what appears to be a negative effect on the parent company’s books. Take, for example, Time Warner’s spin-off of Time Warner Cable. Time Warner as a whole is primarily a media company, dealing mainly in intangible assets (i.e. intellectual property); TWC is a service provider, with a whole mess of tangible assets (lots of infrastructure). One of the things analysts look at when determining the success of a media company is the ratio of earnings to assets; TWC may have been profitable, for a service provider, but by keeping it (and its assets) on the books along with everything else, TW was dragging that ratio down, which made them look a lot less successful to investors. Hence the spin-off.

    Not saying that’s exactly what’s going on here; just pointing out one of the many reasons a corporation might want to divest itself of a profitable company.

    • gwathdring says:

      … That’s ridiculous. I mean … I understand it, and given that that’s the way systematic analysis of the success of a company goes down, it makes sense. But that’s a completely illogical basis for investment. Not as insane as naked short-selling, or banks effectively creating more worth than they have capital, but it’s definitely one of the weirder bits of economist-logic I’ve encountered recently.

    • Moraven says:

      IBM sold off their PC division. Lots of companies in the past have does this, regardless if something is profitable.

      • gwathdring says:

        That still doesn’t make it leap-off-the-page logic. Everyone over on our side of the water was into ripping off people by suckering them into bad loan deals despite them being really bad loan candidates. There was a lot more to the recession, but that still HAPPENED. It was a thing. Banks trying to take advantage of money their customers didn’t have and being surprised when they and their customers both had nothing to stand on. The entire crisis was built on all kinds of situations like this.

        These people don’t live in the real world.

        Which probably has nothing to do with the selling of Activision. I’m sure there’s a reasonable purpose. Or maybe they just don’t want it. That’s a fine reason to sell a company.

  39. aguamoose says:

    In before Notch pledges to buy them, then backs out when he realises he doesn’t have enough money.

  40. bonjovi says:

    Can Blizzard buy itself out?

  41. tkioz says:

    I doubt anyone already in the games industry would look at buying them, frankly only Microsoft or Sony has the money; as much as we might dream of Valve taking them over, there is no way they’ve got the cash for it.

    If it was sold in part or full, I’d say it would be an outsider looking to get an in. Maybe Disney? That could be interesting, after all they’ve got their fingers in a lot of pies and their own game arm is err… meh… really.

    • Srethron says:

      Yeah, I’m having a hard time coming up with a list of companies who could buy Blizzard and have a good shot at righting the pitching ship, as opposed to heading for the nearest iceberg. Valve would be near the top. Maybe they’re sitting on a secret treasure trove of virtual hat money we don’t know about.

      As for who gets the the Activision half… it’s hard to care.

  42. Dizzard says:

    I’ll trade you these two curly wurlys for RPS.

    I know, I know. This is a really generous offer but I’m just in a generous mood today. :)