(ATVI) Activision Blizzard Entices Hunters

Activision Blizzard Inc.(ATVI) and Cabela, the world’s largest direct marketer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise, joined forces for Big Game Hunter 2012, a modern and state-of-the-art hunting game. The game that claims to entice gamers with one of the most realistic hunts yet is scheduled for release on September 27, 2011.

Like other hunting games by Cabela, Big Game Hunter 2012 is equipped with Top Shot Elite gun peripheral that promises to excite gamers with the hunting experience. The game provides varied hunting terrains that range from a vast stretch of mountains to valleys. The animals in the game are more realistic than any of the other games in the Cabela series. Additionally, the animals have their unique movement action, in the gameplay that provide a clue to the animal’s next behavior requiring the hunter to act accordingly. Further, dynamic weather and natural hazards in the surroundings confront the gamers with additional challenges to make a successful kill.

As hunting lacks conviction without guns, Big Game Hunter 2012 has some of the latest hunting rifles and shotguns to offer. The hunting gear, including the guns, can be upgraded during the game, producing possible strength and weakness of the hunting gear depending on the situation. Apart from accuracy, players, while shooting, have to consider factors like wind direction and bullet drop.

The game will be available in multi-player modes, where up to four gamers have the option to play together or challenge each other in different arcade shooting galleries. Big Game Hunter 2012 will be made available on Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) Xbox 360, Sony Corp.’s (SNE) PlayStation3 and Nintendo’s Wii.

Activision recently launched the most anticipated game, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. We expect the game to do well, since the launch of the game had been timed to perfection, coming in just ahead of the release of the film with the same name and the same storyline.

Activision has also focused on the digital arena, as major publications have been digitized in recent times. Activision has recognized the digital medium to be a genuine revenue stream that is likely to benefit the company going forward. In the forthcoming quarters, we expect the company to expand in the high-margin digital business segment.

However, Activision continues to face tough competition from Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO). Moreover, the absence of the company in the social gaming sphere is likely to be a headwind going forward.

We maintain our Neutral rating over the long term (6-12 months). Currently, we have a Zacks #2 Rank for Activision Blizzard, which implies a Buy rating in the short term (1-3 months).

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