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Further to our story about MoP sales being condemned as disappointing by Lazard analyst Atul Bagga, another investment bank has waded into the fray. Venturebeat posted an update to their original gloomy outlook piece, with news from Brean, Murray, Carret and Co. that gave a far more positive angle.
They believe that “the expansion pack will be a key driver of publisher Activision Blizzard’s third quarter 2012 revenue growth” and that “recent reports of weak retail sales for Mists of Pandaria may fail to reflect a channel shift toward a greater percentage of digital sales”. This latter part is pretty key, and was key to the argument against Lazard’s previous assertions.
Brean Murray have estimated sales of 4.5 million copies of Mists of Pandaria will be sold in the third quarter. It’s not 100% clear at this point whether they mean that as the third quarter of the calendar year, that is to say from the beginning of July until the end of September, or some other fiscal period. However, it seems that the calendar year option would make some sense, given that Mists of Pandaria was available for digital download from the 25th of July.
Brean Murray also expect subscriber numbers to increase from the current 9.5 million to 9.8 million by the end of the third quarter, despite strong competition from Free-to-Play titles and, they add, NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2.
They also make an important point regarding digital sales: it’s possible the margins are likely higher than for the retail copies people are buying. There is far less cost incurred with the digital sale than for the retail boxes, and while the digital sales are lower priced it is possible that Brean Murray have a point here.
So, who’s right? Again, like Lazard’s figures, these are estimates. They’re certainly based on facts, but until Blizzard release their own figures, the world will have to wait and see. 4.5 million digital sales this quarter.