Yesterday, Activision announced its earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. For the three month period ending March 31st, the world’s largest games publisher saw net revenues of 1.3 billion dollars, an increase of 33% over the previous year. Even more significant, Activision’s 381 million dollar profit fully doubled what the company had achieved the previous fiscal year.
Obviously, a sizable portion of this revenue stems from Modern Warfare 2, which is now the best selling third-party game of all time. And let’s not forget those million copies of the Stimulus Package that sold in the first 24 hours.
On a conference call discussing the quarterly earnings, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick finally spoke at length about both the current situation with Infinity Ward, and the firing of Jason West and Vince Zampella. Read on for the complete text of the statement.
“The team at Infinity Ward today is comprised of some of the most talented people in the video game industry. They’re an incredibly well-respected group who are motivated and, obviously, extraordinarily capable.”
“Since we terminated the two executives at Infinity Ward, approximately 35 others have resigned and it is likely that a few more people will leave as well. Many of these people have been recruited by other studios because of how talented they are. We are obviously disappointed about this and we wish we could have convinced some of these incredibly talented people to stay.”
“The decision though, to terminate the two Infinity Ward executives, was not done lightly. And it was not done to deprive them of their bonuses, nor was it done without a great deal of deliberation about the consequences.”
“The background leading up to our decision to separate the two former Infinity Ward executives for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty is outlined in our cross complaint that we filed in April, which I’m sure many of you have read.”
“Against this background, we felt we had no choice but to terminate the two Infinity Ward executives. We did this to protect the company’s assets and the interests of our shareholders.”
“I personally considered the two of them friends and their conduct was a compromise of our friendship, which was equally disappointing. Once we began to understand what had occurred, there was no gray area. There was nothing that would have allowed us to retain their services, as talented as they might have been.”
“This is an example of our commitment to pursuing the difficult right rather than the easier wrong. Our actions were firmly rooted in our longstanding values of integrity and an expectation that our employees, who signed and acknowledge our code of conduct, will behave with the highest ethical standards.”
“We have a great team in place at Infinity Ward, which continues to work on downloadable content and the studio’s next unannounced project. We continue to support the culture of excellence that has defined Infinity Ward and we’re already strengthening the studio with additional talent and financial resources.”
Though clearly designed to address stockholder’s concerns about how the Infinity Ward situation will impact Activision’s future, Kotick’s remarks remain revealing and fascinating. Note that his former “friends,” West and Zampella, are never referred to by name. Kotick’s admission that other current Infinity Ward members are likely to leave seems honest, if expected.
However, his claim that Activision is, “already strengthening the studio with additional talent and financial resources,” comes as something of a surprise. It is widely believed that Infinity Ward will be shut down after they deliver the second Modern Warfare 2 map pack. Who, exactly, has been hired?
The Activision / Infinity Ward fiasco has been making news for quite some time, and seems unlikely to stop any time soon. This is the most detailed accounting of the situation by a key player so far.
Do Kotick’s statements change any of your impressions about West and Zampella’s dismissal? Do you think Activision really intends to keep Infinity Ward open? And what do you think Activision’s earnings statement will look like at this time next year ?