Call Of Duty Subscriptions Helped Fuel Vivendi

Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) Blizzard says it will launch further direct consumer premium digital channels after the success of its Call Of Duty Elite subscription offering helped owner Vivendi (EPA: VIV) grow profits.

Elite, whose $49.99 annual subscription is now required from players who want the deepest multiplayer elements of the franchise’s Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 titles, has clocked up 1.5 million paid members from seven million registers users, Vivendi reported Thursday.

This plus other digital channels like downloadable content, online distribution and mobile games now make up a third of Activision Blizzard revenue. Now it’s planning another Call Of Duty franchise follow-up in order to grow its Elite customer base.

It all illustrates how much of the value in video games is tipping to online networks and to game publishers, away from high street retailers. Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) and Nintendo are each withholding titles from Game Group stores whilst they renegotiate with the retailer, FT reports.

Elsewhere in Vivendi, Universal Music Group’s 2011 revenue fell by 4.6 percent because an 11.3 percent jump in digital sales could not make up for a 15.6 percent dip in physical-format revenue.

It plans to shave off another €50 million in costs after acquiring EMI Recorded Music, following €100 million in 2011 synergies. Now its priorities for EMI are to “invigorate A&R and sustain focus on emerging markets”.

Vivendi’s combined annual adjusted net income rose 9.4 percent to €2.95 billion on 0.5 percent higher revenue of €28.8 billion.