StarCraft II unit sales could reach 7 million in Activision Blizzard's current fiscal year, generating $350 million in sales for the publisher and $171 million in operating profit, analyst Mike Hickey with Janco Partners said in a Friday research note.
The analyst's model takes into consideration an assumed 45 percent operating margin. Activision Blizzard's fiscal year ends in December. Contrary to previous reports, the game has not cost $100 million to develop.
The estimate is higher than an May 2010 projection from Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz, who estimated the game could sell 5 million units in its first year.
The highly-anticipated PC real-time strategy game will arrive next week, 10 years after the debut of the revered original, which still attracts a strong following, particularly in Korea, where the game is a national sport.
In Korea, which has a population of over 48 million, StarCraft II could generate 5.45 million active users by the end of the game's first year of release.
The analyst added that the active user estimate might be conservative: "However, we could be meaningfully under-appreciating the active player base in Korea. Blizzard Entertainment Korea was rumored at a recent media event to comment that players in Korea have approached 11 million, suggesting an opportunity for performance in excess of our estimates (we have not been able to confirm commentary)."
Hickey also estimated that 30 percent of the active player base in Korea plays in Cyber Bangs, or internet cafes. The original game sold over 9.5 million units worldwide, with a reported 4.5 million of those units sold in South Korea.
Other major upcoming Blizzard releases for the current fiscal year are expected to be the Chinese release of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, and the latest WoW expansion, Cataclysm, which is currently in beta.