Dark days at Activision…

…but at least there’s a PS3 release date of March 3 for the Black Ops DLC – First Strike.

However, I’m sure that doesn’t make the 500 people losing their jobs feel any better.  It must be an even tougher pill to swallow considering Activision’s latest financial results – they certainly aren’t terrible.  And to further rub salt in the wounds, the publishing giant has gone and axed some fan favourites in Guitar Hero, True Crime and possibly Tony Hawk and DJ Hero.

From articles on Joystiq.

In their financial report for the 2010 fiscal year, which ended December 31, Activision Blizzard reported net revenue reached $4.45 billion, which is up from $4.28 billion in 2009. The revenue in the fourth quarter alone was just $1.43 billion, down from $1.56 billion during the same period the year before.

Digital sales were up 20% over 2009 at an annual revenue of $1.5 billion – up 40 percent in the fourth quarter alone.

However, during an investor’s call, the company announced it will release seven percent of its workforce – approximately 500 people.

While that’s not great news in its self, COO and CFO Thomas Tippl said the company’s size would level out by year’s end. “We are making significant investment elsewhere,” he said. “Our net head count at the end of the year is probably not going to be materially different given that we’re ramping up development teams around Blizzard’s new MMO and around the Call of Duty initiatives.”

The decision to cut Guitar Hero – despite its decent reviews and returns – is due to “our most direct competitor [Rock Band 3], demand for peripheral-based music games declined at a dramatic pace. Given the considerable licensing and manufacturing costs associated with this genre, we simply cannot make these games profitably based on current economics and demand. Instead, what we’ll do is focus our time and energies on marketing and supporting our strong catalog of titles and downloadable content, especially to new consumers as the installed base for hardware continues to grow.” The words of Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.

He went on to discuss True Crime, saying it “wasn’t going to lead to a title at or near the top of the competitive open-world genre.  To be blunt, it just wasn’t going to be good enough.”

Then there’s DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games who have suffered “severe layoffs”.  Whether this has impacted the rhythm series is unclear at present.

And finally, Diablo fans stand a little closer, Activision COO Thomas Tippl said:  “Because Blizzard Entertainment has not yet confirmed the launch date for its next global release our outlook at this time does not include a new game from Blizzard in 2011.  Should we not release a major title from Blizzard this year, we would expect for planning purposes to launch a minimum of two Blizzard titles in 2012.”

OK, so he didn’t mention Diablo 3, but let’s put a positive spin on things shall we?

About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.