Activision's New Spidey on June 29

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Activision Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) recently announced that the new Spider-Man video game will be available on June 29, 2012. Developed by well known game studio Beenox, the new game bears the same title The Amazing Spider-Man as Sony Entertainment’s upcoming “Spidey” flick.

The Amazing Spider-Man will be available on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox 360, Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii, 3DS and DS handheld systems. Activision is scheduled to release the Windows PC version on August 10, 2012.

The new installment narrates the post-movie adventures of Peter Parker based on the stories written by Seamus Kevin Fahey. The game features web rush mechanic technology, which allows players to show a host of new moves in the game.

Although Spider-Man remains one of the most popular comic-book characters developed by Marvel Entertainment LLC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company (DIS), its video game adaptations such as Web of Shadows, Friend or Foe, Battle for New York and Shattered Dimensions received mixed reviews.

Shattered Dimensions, released in 2010, received good reviews, but the 2011 release of Spider-Man: Edge of Time saw dismal reviews from critics primarily due to lack of web-slinging elements and action, which are considered essential for Spider-Man games. It therefore failed to generate much fan following.

Activision, however, claims that the free-roaming web-slinging features will return in the new game, and this will definitely increase its attraction, in our view. However, we believe that the new game will continue to face stiff competition from the Batman franchise developed by Rocksteady Studios.

Our Recommendation

We believe that Activision has a strong product pipeline for 2012. The company’s initiatives to strengthen its major franchises such as Call of Duty and Skylanders through the launch of new versions and downloadable content packs will be beneficial over the long run. 

The company’s initiative to revive some of its old franchises, such as Diablo, is also expected to act as a tailwind. Most importantly, Activision’s foray into the mobile gaming market is expected to be a long-term positive.

However, the softness in the video game industry and increasing competition in most of the markets (including mobile) remains a concern. Moreover, lack of new titles (not sequels or downloadable content) and overdependence on the old franchises, particularly on Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, are the other headwinds going forward.

We have a Neutral recommendation on Activision in the long term. Currently, Activision Blizzard has a Zacks #3 Rank, which implies a Hold rating in the short term.

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