Activision Blizzard held their Q1 2011 financial earnings call today, and while not much in the way of news came about (unlike what happened during February’s results), a couple of key pieces of information were addressed about two of the publisher’s key franchises.
First up, Call of Duty. Many had expected Activision to announce this fall’s installment of the series today — likely a multi-studio developed Modern Warfare 3 — but that wasn’t the case. If recent magazine covers are anything to go by, all will revealed in the coming weeks, and certainly during E3.
What Activision did say, however, is that November’s installment is expected to be another retail monster. And the mysterious Project Beachhead digital community/monetization platform initiative will be an “integral” part. 2011′s yet-to-be-announced CoD has “exceeded every internal milestone”, according to the publisher, and plans are in place to lift the veil “in the coming weeks”. Just like one of its potential voice actors said!
As for Project Beachhead (being handled by a dedicated studio of the same name), that’s where things get interesting. As we found out months ago, the platform has been in the works for nearly two years now, and is going to debut later this year.
“We haven’t released the details of the business model for Beachhead,” said Acti Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. “It is the response to the passion people have for the game, the amount that people want to engage one another in a connected way. Our goal has been to create an experience that was amplifying enough and energizing enough and igniting enough to that community to be able to be monetized.“
Beachhead will add “a lot of new capabilities and services provided free of charge to our customers,” added Activision boss Bobby Kotick, the main hinter of the impending monetization of Call of Duty for the past few years. “The Beachhead initiatives will be part of that this fall … We think we’ll reset the bar once again for that genre and that franchise. While we are attempting to deliver new incremental experiences that have yet heretofore been unseen by our players, we are not attempting to monetize or take any experience away that currently comes as part of the value proposition of buying the game.”
“The creative excellence and sheer scale of the game we are making, and the unprecedented online universe that will accompany it will re-set the bar for this genre, giving players a new level of immersion, connectivity, community and of course epic action. The game to date has exceeded every internal milestone and we look forward to sharing it with you soon.”
Project Beachhead will “offer a suite of services to supercharge the series like never before”, “support in-game integration and bring online experiences and console play together for the first time”, and new as of today, be “an integral part to the innovation signature of the Call of Duty game this year,” the execs said.
Also noted once more was the upcoming free-to-play Call of Duty MMOG, aimed (for now) only at the Asian/Chinese market, which is a “robust investment” for the company. No date for that has been established. Will it, too, use Project Beachhead? Kotick went to say that despite being “only” for overseas regions, “That’s not to say it might not have applicability elsewhere, but what we’re doing right now is focused on China.”
Moving away from the land of shooters and into Blizzard territory, long-awaited Diablo III is finally getting its beta in the coming months. Studio boss Michael Morhaime confirmed “we’re currently aiming at a third quarter launch for external beta testing,” which would put a roll out sometime between July and September. BlizzCon 2011 takes place in October, so one would think things might want to kick off before then. There’s still no release date for Diablo III, but it’s “looking great” according to Morhaime, and seems to be a 2012 title.
“I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet,” he said, adding “[We are] driving hard [to get it out this year].“
And no, nothing on that alleged Xbox 360/PS3 version. Which is totally coming one day, but until it’s officially acknowledged, it’s secret. Shh.
Lastly, James Bond. We already know that Raven Software was/is working on a new adventure for secret agent 007 — unrelated to the Bond 23 movie — and Activision re-confirmed that it’s coming this year.
Hirshberg said, “For the balance of the year, we plan to launch games based on the best-selling X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, James Bond and the toy phenomenon Bakugan as well as the latest release in the long-standing Cabela’s Hunting franchise, which we’re expanding this year to include new peripherals and an incredible Kinect experience.”
No release date was hinted.