Talking in financial results following an above-expectations Q1, Activision Blizzard execs revealed concerns, hopes, and opinions for the rest of the year, including commentary on World Of Warcraft in China and Call Of Duty's map pack advantages.
In particular, Activision exec Mike Griffith discussed the state of the worldwide game retail market in 2009, commenting that they expected to see game software have a "low-mid single digit growth" for the rest of the year.
He noted that retailers are generally bullish on games as a category, and in fact, games are expanded at the expense of other entertainment media.
But worldwide game retailers have a "conservative approach to inventories", and Griffith noted that retailers are generally "preferring to chase successful titles" -- putting Activision, with some known franchises, at an advantage.
He also referenced the importance of DLC to support retail titles, mentioning that
the Call Of Duty: World At War's map pack had sold 2 million copies.
Griffith believes that this kind of DLC "insulates us from the used game market", and also allows retailers to hold higher pricing on the related games for longer.
He also referenced Modern Warfare 2 briefly, noting that its first teaser trailer was viewed 1.3 million times in the first 24 hours, and that the first game in the series had now sold an impressive 13 million copies.
Elsewhere, Griffith also boasted that the Guitar Hero franchise "took share from Rock Band in both North America and Europe", with a large slate of Hero-related titles coming out later in 2009.
Blizzard's Mike Morhaime also discussed the latest developments within his studio, noting that Starcraft 2 will enter "external beta testing" this summer, what they call the "final stretch" of development.
In addition to World Of Warcraft's important transition from The9 to NetEase in China, which the company agreed was a risk factor, but believed they could execute on, Blizzard highlighted a Battle.net expansion which will "connect all future Blizzard games", with a centralized account system.
Blizzard also updated lifetime to date sales for the existing franchises getting major updates, with Starcraft at 11 million units and Diablo at 20 million units sold to date.
[UPDATE: Execs also mentioned during the call that the currently dormant Tony Hawk franchise would return in a major new iteration this holiday season. They noted that more information on the new Tony Hawk title would be released at E3 in Los Angeles next month.
CFO Thomas Tippl also touched on an initially un-named new title in the "$1.5 billion racing genre" as a key game for this holiday season. Bobby Kotick subsequently commented that this title was the new Bizarre Creations title, Blur, citing the "unique opportunity in the racing genre" that working with the Project Gotham Racing developer presented.]