Blizzard might be weathering the sting of a 600,000 subscriber loss in World of Warcraft this quarter, but the studio's separation from Vivendi could be the salve to soothe the hurt. Following the news that Activision Blizzard is buying back shares to take away Vivendi's controlling stake, stocks have surged 18% in pre-market trading this morning.
Baird Analyst Colin Sebastian says this is nothing but good news: "This looks like a win, win, win for Vivendi and Activision shareholders. It's a better outcome than a special dividend to Vivendi, and I expect Activision will function even better as an independent company without the overhang of a struggling parent."
Blizzard is also taking steps to counter its subscriber drop. VentureBeat reports that the studio has increased its WoW development team, "lowered the barrier" for returning players to catch up to friends, and created an in-game proving ground so players can learn to heal or tank. We also have word that a new buff-centric class is being considered, although no specifics have been revealed.