It seems it’s quite trendy for hard-up shareholders to open up class action lawsuits against major publishers these days. Pomerantz Law Firm has announced it will be investigating claims on behalf of investors that Activision Blizzard, Inc has acted fraudulently following the departure of Bungie and the loss of the Destiny franchise.
The investigation from Pomerantz claims Activision and “certain of its officers and/or directors” were involved in unlawful business practices and took part in securities fraud.
“On January 11, 2019, the Company disclosed that it would be separating from its design and development partner Bungie, Inc. ("Bungie") and that Bungie will assume full publishing rights and responsibilities for the Destiny franchise”, writes Pomerantz. “Bungie had developed the Destiny franchise with Activision as publisher. In the first five days of the Destiny franchise's release, it sold $325M at retail. Following this announcement, Activision's stock price fell sharply during intraday trading on January 11, 2019.”
I’m no stocks and shares guru but I have to say I come away from this a little bit confused. Evidently the lawsuit believes investors should have been informed ahead of time. It’s pretty standard practice to not announce your business decisions to shareholders ahead of time else this opens the door to potential insider trading.
Second to this, the effect of Bungie and Destiny splitting from Activision would have been exactly the same, whether investors found out on Thursday or a week prior. The news would cause a steep drop in share value, there’s no other way around it. I’m sure our collective hearts bleed for them but there was some bad news, a drop in stock value, and that’s basically the end of it unless there are some seriously sneaky hijinks we don’t know about.
If you happen to have stocks in ACTI then you’ve probably not had a great time lately. Activision shares have taken a fairly calamitous fall from a peak of $83.39 on October 2nd 2018 down to $46.54. We can see three distinct dips as well.
In early October we have the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. While it launched fairly strongly the sales figures still disappointed investors. This preceded an even steeper dip on November 2nd when Diablo Immortal was announced. Finally, we have the beginning of a third sharp decline following Bungie’s announcement.
Outside of Blizzard, Activision isn’t a publisher loaded with big name IP. It has Call of Duty, sure, but losing Destiny practically halves its output in one fell swoop. That’s what happens when you focus on a single annualised franchise for a decade at the expense of building new IP.