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Activision: Blizzard To Help Bring  Guitar Hero  To Asia

Activision: Blizzard To Help Bring Guitar Hero To Asia

December 3, 2007 | By Brandon Boyer

December 3, 2007 | By Brandon Boyer
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More: Console/PC

In their collective call to investors on the merger of Blizzard and Activision, CEO Robert Kotick noted there was "no greater resource" than Blizzard to help the company push franchises like Guitar Hero into Asian markets.

Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy and Activision Blizzard CEO Kotick spent much of the call reiterating the strategic value of the merger and its power as the soon-to-be 'world’s largest pure-play online and console game publisher.'

Lévy said the merger would show Vivendi shareholders the "true value of Blizzard," which he called the "crown jewel" of the games industry, and the "most powerful, relevant, and successful" online developer, with four of the five best selling PC games all time.

Kotick echoed many of those same feelings, saying that the newly formed company will be primely placed to capture the "new broad audiences" that "are emerging for interactive entertainment," especially given Blizzard's "attractive" business model, "one that many competitors found difficult to duplicate."

Rocking Asia

Especially important to Kotick is Blizzard's ability to help lead Activision franchises into the East. As Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime pointed out in the call, the company is the "only Western publisher to achieve significant success in Asia," with Kotick adding that its stumbles were just as important.

Kotick said he hoped to look at "what mistakes have been made" over the past decade of Blizzard's work, "that we can avoid as we enter markets like Korea and China with Guitar Hero.

Kotick said that already some "high level conversations" with Morhaime had been "incredibly insightful... As we think about how we strategically enter these markets," he said. "There is no greater resource than Mike and his team."

The Blizzard View

For Morhaime's part, he said he also hoped to bring some of Blizzard's core philosophies that "revolve around developing high quality software," and ways to build franchises, brands, and businesses, and saw this as an "opportunity to unlock the value that's hidden inside Blizzard."

Morhaime said that inside Vivendi Games, he didn't "feel like shareholders were giving proper credit to the business we had built... partly because [Vivendi Games was] small, and partly because until now Blizzard numbers weren't broken out on a standalone basis."

He added that the merger "gives us ability to attract and retain talent necessary for us to continue to stay competitive."

Future Of Blizzard Snowy

Asked specifically about future plans, Morhaime showed typical Blizzard restraint at lifting the lid on any developments, saying that the company was focused on growing its subscriber base in new markets were broadband penetration was reaching better levels like Russia, Eastern Europe, and India.

He specifically rejected the idea of Warcraft and Diablo franchises coming to consoles any time in the near future, however, and shied away from questions on new online launches in the next two years, only offering that it would continue to support World of Warcraft with more free content.

Never A Better Time

Finally, asked about how far Vivendi was interested in going with its majority holding of the company, Lévy said that he hoped "we'll get to 58 percent, but we'd be happy with 52 percent." He added that the company will remain publicly traded, as it's "good for everybody... good for shareholders, good for strategies, good for human operations."

Concluding, Kotick said that there was "never a better time" for the merger "when you have two strong companies leveraged the synergies, growth and opportunity for market expansion."

"The Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, changes online, broadband penetration increasing across all geographies," concluded Kotick, all were leading to the conclusion that "the mass market that we've all been looking for is arriving," adding that the new company was set to take advantage of "things like physical interface, better production values" and "the transformation of games from from solitary to social experiences" -- "there couldn't be a better time for us."

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