StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm planned for first-half 2013

It’s good to be the king. Strong sales of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, Diablo III, and expectations of a typical jackpot from Call of Duty: Black Ops II have raised Activision Blizzard’s expected operating margins to record highs, according to the third quarter 2012 financial report released by the publisher today. On top of that, a planned first-half 2013 release of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm should keep its fortunes high well into the next year.

Activision Blizzard reports Mist of Pandaria pushed World of Warcraft’s subscriber numbers above 10 million once more, after dipping to 9.1 million as of August. Activision Blizzard president Mike Morhaime talked up the expansion in a conference call with investors, and gave a tentative first-half 2013 launch window for Heart of the Swarm (emphasis on tentative–this is Blizzard we’re talking about here).

Skylanders, meanwhile, is the best-selling console and handheld game in North America and Europe in terms of dollars spent, thanks to its successful figure and accessory packs. It’s also cleaning up as a toy line: Activision Blizzard says it was the best-selling action figure line in the U.S.for the first nine months of 2012, and its follow-up Skylanders Giants is occupying 100,000 linear feet of shelf space across U.S. retailers in preparation for the holiday rush.

Activision Blizzard brought in $841 million in net revenues for the quarter ended September 30, compared to $754 million last year. Its income uptick was almost as impressive, growing to $226 million from $148 million.

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