Activision's Skylanders Franchise Winning Big For The Company

Apr.24.12 | About: Activision Blizzard, (ATVI)

Many analysts and writers tend to focus on Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) for two main reasons: "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft." Rightfully so, investors focus on the games as they have been the two bestselling franchises for the large video game company. However the company has a growing franchise in Skylanders, which is dominating the target kids market.

Since October 2011, the Skylanders franchise has sold $200 million in the United State alone. The sales of games and figures associated with the game puts the gaming franchise in the top 10.

The table below illustrates the sales for the first Skylanders game (Numbers in Millions):

North America Europe Rest of World Total
Nintendo Wii 0.65 0.71 0.17 1.53
XBOX 360 0.26 0.22 0.06 0.53
PS3 0.18 0.19 0.08 0.45
Nintendo 3DS 0.15 0.08 0.02 0.25
PC 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.02
Click to enlarge

The Skylanders franchise recently premiered on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) platforms. Skylanders' Cloud Patrol premiered on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch on April 5th. The game is an arcade style shooter aimed at a younger audience. As of April 22, the game was the 33rd bestselling paid app on iTunes. The game has several add-ons including:

  • Standard Pack $1.99
  • Super Pack $4.99
  • Mega Pack $14.99
  • Ultra Pack $49.99

The game costs $0.99 to download and has many four and five star reviews.

The Skylanders console games have sold extremely well both for Activision and for retailers. Toys 'R Us has to be happy with the performance of Skylanders, as it has been able to produce several exclusive packs of Skylanders characters available only at its retail outlets or online. A search on the Toys 'R Us website recently came back with 34 results including some of the exclusive items. Searches on Target (NYSE:TGT) and Gamestop (NYSE:GME) came back with several items sold out. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) had the biggest selection of a big box retailer with 42 items but also had several items out of stock. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Ebay (NASDAQ:EBAY) are the clear winners of the short supply of Skylanders figures as they provide an outlet for people to sell hard to find characters or used characters.

On Amazon's top hundred selling items in the "video games" category, several Skylanders characters show up:

15. Single Character - Camo $55

16. Single Character - Warnado $62

19. Single Character - Wham-Shell $67

48. Single Character - Chop Chop $9

55. Adventure Pack Empire of Ice (3 Characters) $28

61. Single Character - Flameslinger $9

62. Adventure Pack with Cynder, Lightning Rod, Zook $42

73. Starter Pack for Nintendo Wii $60

88. Single Character Cynder $11

94. Triple Character Pack with Drobot, Flameslinger, Stump Smash $24

97. Triple Character Pack with Wrecking Ball, Stealth Elf, Sonic Boom $29

A search on Ebay came up with almost 9000 items for the word "Skylanders." One thing is for sure that the demand is still out there for a game that was released back in October. The creators of the game were smart by limiting supply and as one commenter on a recent article stated: not over-saturating the market like Beanie Babies. The new Skylanders: Giant game will come with at least eight new larger playable characters. The previous characters will be compatible with the new game. Activision is set to release the game in the fall right before the busy Christmas shopping season and the game should be on every kid's Christmas list.

Activision Blizzard has an amazingly strong 2012 lineup across both of its operating platforms. Skylanders: Giants adds to the lineup and represents a growing franchise that can help the company decrease dependence on "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" subscribers. The "Diablo III" game is set to come out on May 15. The time to buy shares is before that as the company will see an immediate bounce in its share price. I recommended the company as one of my top 10 stock picks for 2012. The shares were only up 5.5% in the first three months. I have a price target of $20 for Activision Blizzard shares by the end of the year.

Disclosure: I am long ATVI.