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ATVI's New Free-to-Play Card Game

Zacks Equity Research

Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) has announced a new free-to-play strategy card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, at PAX East. Beta testing of the game, which is developed by Blizzard Entertainment, is expected to begin soon.

The new game will be available for Windows and Apple’s (AAPL) Mac platforms later this year and the iPad version would be released soon after. Moreover, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is expected to be released for Android as well.

Gamers reviewed the game to simple and engaging after playing the demo version of the game at PAX. Gamers can play in two modes, namely “Play Mode” and “The Forge”, where they can get a chance to dwell with opponents and increase their card packs.

Reportedly, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will initially feature 300 cards, with five cards in a pack. Though the game is available for free but gamers have the option to purchase card packs to advance in the game quicker.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is Blizzard’s first free-to-play game collectible card game. Free-to-play games enable gamers to access the game for free. Developers and publishers earn revenues through the sales of in-game items (also known as micro-transactions) and advertisement.

The current game is expected to boost the company’s presence in the free-to play gaming segment, which is dominated by Zynga (ZNGA) and Electronic Arts (EA).

Moreover, Activision’s limited presence in the mobile segment, particularly on Android platform (no other game except Call of Duty Elite), is a major growth impediment in our view.

Additionally, volatile macroeconomic environment, uncertainty related to console transition and tough year-over-year comparisons are the other headwinds. We believe that the continued softness in video game industry retail sales despite increasing investments in new products will continue to hurt Activision’s profitability in the near term.

Currently, Activision Blizzard has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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