Activision Rides 'Call of Duty' to Better Than Expected Earnings

BUZZWORTHY GAMES: "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" (Activision)

The best-selling first-person shooter returns with more interactive features (reportedly for a monthly charge) and a plot featuring special forces looking to retake Wall Street from Russian attackers.

The game-maker's "Skylanders" and "World of Warcraft" franchises also contribute to a decent first quarter.

Activision Blizzard, the company behind soon-to-come games based on the upcoming movies Battleship and The Amazing Spider-Man, reported adjusted results that were better than expected on Wednesday.

Strong sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Skylanders Spyro's Adventures, as well as a decent showing from the subscription game World of Warcraft helped the company post adjusted earnings of 6 cents a share, 2 cents better than Wall Street expected.

Subscribers for World of Warcraft, who pay $15 a month and whose numbers are closely watched by investors, ended the first quarter at 10.2 million. While that's down from 11.4 million a year ago, it's the same as where it was in the fourth quarter.

Activision Blizzard said revenue fell to $1.2 billion from $1.4 billion a year ago and net income sunk to $384 million from $503 million a year ago.

Still, Activision Blizzard raised its outlook for the year and its shares rose 1 percent in after-hours trading after ending the regular session unchanged at $12.40.

The company's next big release is Diablo III on May 15, and CEO Bobby Kotick said during a conference call with analysts that "pre-orders have already set a new record for Blizzard."