Guitar HeroVideo-game publisher Activision Blizzard (ATVI) narrowed its fourth-quarter loss 19% from a year earlier. The company cut its product and intellectual property costs in the quarter, and took smaller write-downs related to its casual gaming and music titles.

But shares fell in extended trading after the company forecast that its 2011 sales would fall short of analysts' estimates and announced that it would discontinue its "Guitar Hero" games because of lackluster sales.

The company's net loss narrowed to $233 million, or 20 cents a share, from $286 million, or 23 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue fell 8% to $1.43 billion. Meanwhile, fourth-quarter product and intellectual property costs dropped 18% from a year earlier, while impairment charges declined 20%.

Activision Blizzard's newest "Call of Duty" title, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," surpassed $1 billion in global sales in just seven weeks after its Nov. 9 release. The only other entertainment title to reach the $1 billion mark within the same time frame was the 2009 Fox film release of "Avatar," which has grossed almost $2.8 billion in global box-office receipts, according to

Still, Activision continues to be affected by the overall sluggishness in the video-game market. New packaged game sales last year fell 5% from a year earlier to $10.1 billion, NPD Group said last month.

Activision expects full-year earnings for 2011 to amount to 56 cents a share on $3.95 billion in revenue -- well below analysts' estimates of 83 cents a share and $4.69 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters poll -- because of a lack of any new releases for its Blizzard Entertainment division.

In after-hours training, Activision Blizzard shares had fallen 7.3%, to $11.69 by about 7:30 p.m.

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they killed it with the blunderous release of the Beatles' guitar hero. young kids who play GH don't know the Beatles' music, and the older baby boomers don't play Guitar Hero! DUH!!

February 10 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tamara Joy

the game is an old space invaders with a guitar shaped control. and most of the gamming generation dosent remember rock and roll. and your not going to impress them with 60 year old men jumping around with comeback attempts.

February 10 2011 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Activision's main complaint about Guitar Hero, in another article I read, is the costs of music licensing. But, instead of greedily attepting to sell an entire new package to consumers every time they license another music set, maybe they should make this game expandable and negotiate a per-song sale licensing fee - this way they could avoid large upfront, fixed licensing costs and still makes profit by selling 'addon' songs to existing versions of the games we already have. People who have previous Guitar Hero games do not need more guitar peripherals (which probably accounts for a reported dropping off of peripheral game sales - the market is simply saturated), but they do want more content. This looks like yet another game company failing to respond to the desires of their customers in a creative way.

February 10 2011 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply