Activision Blizzard (ATVI - Snapshot Report) recently announced that its massively popular role playing game Diablo III will be available from Sep 3, on Sony’s (SNE - Snapshot Report) PlayStation 3 as well as on Microsoft’s (MSFT - Analyst Report) Xbox 360 entertainment system.
Both the console versions will be priced at $59.99. Diablo III will release in the U.S., Canada, Spanish-speaking Latin America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The game will be available in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Polish, and Brazilian Portuguese.
Although nothing was officially announced by Activision, the company plans to adapt the game for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 console, when it releases later this year. Activision also announced that the retail availability and release date of Diablo III in Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, will be announced at a later date.
The console versions of the game will be equipped with all the regular features of the PC version including the latest upgrades. Additionally, a new user interface is being designed by the company that will enhance the gaming experience on PlayStation. Moreover, upon pre ordering Diablo III console versions, gamers are entitled to receive exclusive in-game items (“Infernal Helm”) and limited-edition pre order bonuses.
Originally released for Windows and Macintosh operating systems in May 2012, Diablo III received tremendous response from gamers, making it the fastest-selling PC game of all times. As of Dec 31, 2012 Activision sold more than 12 million copies of the game worldwide.
According to the NPG group and GfK Chart-Track, Diablo III was one of the top two PC Games (the other one was StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm) in both North America and Europe in the first quarter that ended on Mar 31, 2013.
However, the game’s splendid performance has prompted Activision to remain cautious on fiscal 2013 results due to higher year-over-year comparisons. For the second quarter of 2013, Activision expects non-GAAP earnings of 5 cents per share on revenues of $590 million. This is way below than revenues of $1.05 billion reported in the year-ago quarter. Activision earned non-GAAP earnings of 18 cents in the second quarter of 2012.
Although we believe that Activision’s strong product portfolio is a key growth catalyst, sluggish video game retail sales, higher adoption of free-to-play games and stiff competition from Electronic Arts (EA - Analyst Report) are the major headwinds going forward. Moreover, continued investments in new products are expected to hurt margins in the near term.
Currently, Activision has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).