World of Warcraft expansion has garnered its fair share of criticisms from players, but for better or for worse that hasn't made a dent in the parent company's empire. Activision Blizzard hasn't just been surviving but thriving, posting a record profit for the first quarter of 2011 -- $503 million in net income, more than $100 million over the year before. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Blizzard Entertainment was responsible for a large portion of that profit, bringing in $170 million all by its lonesome.
Needless to say, this has serious implications for the MMO world, especially with the long-awaited Star Wars: The Old Republic still on deck for this year -- a game rumored to have a nearly ruinous budget reaching well into the $200 million territory. While some of Blizzard's profit no doubt came from StarCraft II, the numbers involved will nevertheless send the message that there's still a great deal of profit to be had in MMOs, or at least in World of Warcraft.
[Update: Our sister publication WoW Insider is reporting that during the earnings call earlier this afternoon, Blizzard admitted to a drop in WoW's subscriber levels, from pre-Cataclysm levels of 12 million to 11.4 million at the end of March.]