Activision Blizzard Acquires Major League Gaming

Activision Blizzard, Inc. today announced the acquisition of the business of Major League Gaming. MLG is a leader in creating and streaming premium live gaming events, organizing professional competitions, and running competitive gaming leagues. The acquisition expands Activision Blizzard’s reach across the rapidly-growing esports ecosystem by adding proven live streaming capabilities and technologies to the Activision Blizzard Media Networks division, led by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG co-founder Mike Sepso.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG’s ability to create premium content, its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG esports team to our competitive gaming initiatives.”

Sundance DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of MLG, said, “Our mission for over 12 years has been to promote and expand the growth of competitive gaming worldwide, and today the industry is at a key inflection point as its popularity soars and rivals that of many traditional professional sports. This acquisition and Activision Blizzard’s commitment to competitive gaming will expand the opportunities for gamers to be recognized and celebrated for their competitive excellence.”

Mike Sepso, Senior Vice President of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and MLG Co-founder said, “Sundance and I founded MLG to highlight the incredible talent of competitive gamers all over the world. Activision Blizzard’s esports leadership, incredible intellectual property, and long history in competitive gaming create a perfect home for MLG’s capabilities. Activision Blizzard’s acquisition of MLG’s business is an important step towards Activision Blizzard Media Networks’ broader mission to bring esports into the mainstream by creating and broadcasting premium esports content, organizing global league play, and expanding distribution with key gaming partners.”

MLG will continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the industry. MLG.tv is a premium online broadcast network for professional-level esports and the MLG Pro Circuit is the longest-running esports league in North America. GameBattles is the largest online gaming tournament system across consoles, PC and mobile platforms.

With over 100 million unique viewers, the esports audience is estimated to be bigger than audiences for many professional sports leagues. Creating premium content for these audiences will provide significant opportunities in ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships, licensing, and merchandising. By 2017, esports is projected to have over 300 million viewers1. For the past 12 years, MLG has helped bring esports into the mainstream with broadcasts of professional gaming competitions that rival traditional sports fan engagement.

Source: PR

Activision To Only Invest In Mega-Blockbuster Franchises Moving Forward

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In a recent conference call regarding their Q1 earnings for 2013, Activision has stated that they will be exclusively investing in large franchises from now on. They will be avoiding new franchise endeavors entirely, unless they see a way for those new franchises to render excellent profits.

“But I would say, when we look at new investments, we aren’t looking to do new investments unless they provide the kind of — same kind of scale and investment return that we have in our existing businesses.”

Furthermore, development time on these new titles will be truncated, allowing Activision to push out content at a much higher rate. It was also reiterated that the Wii U is to blame for the lack of sales in the Skylanders franchise. The Wii apparently also had “weaknesses” in regards to the franchise, despite its large installed base.

“Obviously, a growing installed base of family friendly consoles would be a benefit. And console prices and sales are one of the risks and one of the issues that we articulated for the fourth quarter. That said, we’ve done well despite weaknesses for both the Wii and the Wii U and seeing the Wii U take off would be great, but remains to be seen.”

Activision Worried For The Second Half Of 2013, Partially Blames Wii U’s “Disappointing Launch”

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Activision Blizzard President Bobby Kotick says that while his company had a firm start to the year, he fears there are dangers and uncertainties that plague the second half of 2013. Among other things, Kotick blames the “disappointing launch” of the Wii U console and the ambiguity regarding next-generation hardware.

“While we have had a solid start to the year, we now believe that the risks and uncertainties in the back half of 2013 are more challenging than our earlier view, especially in the holiday quarter. The shift in release dates of competing products, the disappointing launch of the Wii U™, uncertainties regarding next-generation hardware, and subscriber declines in our World of Warcraft business all raise concerns, as do continued challenges in the global economy. For these reasons, we remain cautious. However, our focused and disciplined approach to our business has served us well in the past, and through continued investment and careful management of our costs, we expect to continue delivering shareholder value over the long term as we have for the last 20 years.”

-Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard

€8 Billion Activision Blizzard Sale Is Still Being Considered

Vivendi is still courting numerous companies for a sale of its €8 billion majority stake in Activision Blizzard. CVG reports that despite recent assurances by Vivendi they are still eager for a sale of Activision Blizzard and it remains absolutely under consideration. The publication says Microsoft approached Activision Blizzard, but negations have not advanced any further at this moment in time.