Activision's Moment of Truth
Call of Duty buffs can begin circling Nov. 13 on their calendar. It's probably also never too early to begin saving up another $60.
Activision Blizzard (NAS: ATVI) has set a release date for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The mid-November debut isn't really much of a surprise. That's the time that Activision Blizzard has favored with its releases of the wildly popular series of military combat games. The timing has served the company well. It's just days before the start of the telltale holiday shopping season, even though most diehard gamers will get it right away.
This is going to be a big release for Activision Blizzard. For starters, it has competition this year. Sure, Electronic Arts (NYS: EA) has made things interesting in the past with its Battlefield installments, but the success of the Call of Duty franchise keeps EA gunning for October releases to stay clear of Activision Blizzard's way.
However, the same can't be said for Halo 4. The highly anticipated return of the franchise that put Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Xbox 360 on the map will be a big deal. Halo 4 hits the market a week earlier than Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
This doesn't mean that Activision Blizzard is nuts for scheduling a release just seven days after many gamers plunk down $60 for an Xbox game. Halo 4 will be challenged to win over skeptics, since Bungie -- the studio behind the original trilogy -- has moved on.
However, Activision Blizzard will also want to keep an eye on the market's reaction to Wii U. Nintendo's (OTC: NTDOY) new console will probably hit the market in November, though we'll know more after next month's E3 show. Yes, diehard gamers prefer the Xbox 360 and PS3, but some will obviously save up for the Wii U, leaving less money to snap up new games on rival platforms.
Activision Blizzard can't afford to see its streak of annual record-breaking Call of Duty releases end. It's already dealing with a declining number of World of Warcraft players. It has unplugged the Guitar Hero franchise. Diablo III could be big for the company when its hits gamers in two weeks, but the real moment of truth will come in November when the company's biggest game hits a suddenly crowded market.
Keep those grenade launchers handy. There may be some room to clear.
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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of and has written calls on Activision Blizzard.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Nintendo, Activision Blizzard, and Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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