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Call of Duty: Black Ops II DLC made Activision silly money

Black Ops 2

Here’s some context for what might otherwise look like the flag at the peak of Mt. Obvious: in August 2012, Activision noted that Call of Duty DLC sales were slowing down, and said they were exploring other options for making a squillion pounds.

Not so anymore. Since its release this time last year, Black Ops II has set “new franchise records” for DLC uptake.

In an investor call last night that saw Kotick trumpeting his company’s expensively-won independence from Vivendi, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg spent much of his time celebrating Black Ops II’s gains.

“For both Call of Duty and for Skylanders, one of the keys to our success is our ability to keep fans engaged with new content all year long,” he said. “Here today, Call of Duty digital revenues set new franchise records. The franchise also sets new records for online engagement with over four billion hours played online.

“Put simply, players are spending more of their time and money online with Call of Duty than ever before.”

In the last 12 months, Black Ops II and its digital augmentations combined have generated more cash for Activision than any console game ever has in a single year. No console gamers us, but Hirshberg made it clear that the DLC had been a multiplatform success.

“If you took Black Ops II’s digital revenue alone this year, and judged it as a standalone game, it would be the third-largest game at retail this year, behind only GTA V and Skylanders: Giants, including toys and accessories,” he said.

But how many buses could you fit inside it, Eric? The man has a point, of course: Call of Duty DLC has been successful enough to change Activision’s current thinking on how to sell the series.

“These additions have proven to have value to our players,” he said, “and they have transformed our revenues from a simple equation of units-times-price to the equation of units-times-revenue-per-player.”

Hirshberg cited Black Ops’ season pass as one of the “multiple ways” players have stayed on CoD’s drip all year round, as well as “a la carte” DLC – by which I think he means packs like September’s Apocalypse.

The high profile faces in Treyarch’s high-budget Zombies maps can’t have hurt those. Michael Madsen! In Alcatraz! With zombies! Did you buy any of that stuff?