Acti laments poor Blur, Singularity sales

Insists it marketed both appropriately.

Poor sales of Bizarre's racer Blur and Raven Software's shooter Singularity between April and June were offset by the continued gargantuan success of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, publisher Activision Blizzard has said.

"Singularity fell short of meeting what is an exceptionally high bar within the shooter genre," said chief financial officer Thomas Tippl during an investor call last night.

"Fortunately, Call of Duty was the title that raised that bar and shortfall of Singularity was offset by Call of Duty's catalogue and DLC performance.

"Additionally, Blur was not able to break out in what turned out to be a relatively soft racing genre despite the number of high-quality releases."

Blur sold a paltry 31,000 copies in the US in May, although it had only been on sale for five days at the end of the month.

Despite failing at the till, Blur wasn't without worth, Activision insisted.

"Importantly, the game broke new ground in creating innovative, social and multiplayer features - including functionality - enables our unique online and back-end platforms that will play an increasing role in driving value in the future," Tippl said.

It's a shame: both Blur and Singularity are very good indeed.

During a question and answer session with analysts, Tippl went a little deeper on Blur and Singularity's performance and insisted Activision marketed both games appropriately.

"We have made a very significant investment behind the establishment of Blur as a new IP," he said. "So I think the marketing plan was very strong, probably stronger than for most of our franchises.

"Unfortunately, the racing genre was not particularly responsive, at least so far this year, despite the number of good releases.

"On Singularity, the bar in the shooter genre these days is very high. I think we made the right size investment against this opportunity, and that's how we expect to continue to look at the amount of marketing support we put behind all of our launches."

Activision said licensed titles Shrek and Transformers did well, and outlined plans to drive sales of its June quarter games throughout the remainder of the year, so all is not lost.

All four games, plus World of Warcraft and COD Map Packs, contributed to revenues of $967 million for the quarter.

Interestingly, sales from online channels grew 120 per cent year-over-year to reach an all-time high and, for the first time, accounted for the majority of sales.

Activision said Call of Duty was the number three franchise overall in the U.S. and Europe for the quarter. Combined sales of the Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Pack and the Resurgence Pack were more than five million.

For the first half of 2010, Call of Duty Map Packs generated enough revenue to rank among the top five retail releases in the U.S. and Europe.

"These products not only drive meaningful levels of high-margin revenue, they also help generate a deeper loyalty among the fan base, drive increased stickiness to the physical product, which encourages gamers to keep their copies rather then reselling them, and opens up new opportunities for the future as more and more players evolve their engagement with the brands," said Tippl.

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