You will soon be able to watch your favorite Activision Blizzard video game characters in TV shows and movies.
Activision, the company behind hits such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, on Friday took the wraps off Activision Blizzard Studios, a new film and TV production studio that will create original content based on its library of popular game titles. Nick van Dyk, a former Disney executive who played a significant role in the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, will co-lead the new division.
The studio's first effort will be "Skylanders Academy," an animated TV series based on the toys-to-life video game series Skylanders, which allows character figurines to interact with the video game when place on a portal. The series is being produced by Eric Rogers, best known for his work on the animated TV series "Futurama," and features the voices of actors Justin Long ("Alvin and the Chipmunks"), Ashley Tisdale ("Phineas and Firb") and Norm Macdonald ("Saturday Night Live"), among others.
Also in the works is a series of feature films based on Call of Duty, the popular military shooter franchise that has sold more than 175 million copies.
"Activision Blizzard is home to some of the most successful entertainment franchises in history, across any medium," Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, said in a statement. "With the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, our engaged fans can now watch the games they love come to life across film and television."
Activision's new studio underscores the video game industry's story-telling prowess and growing influence, as well as its ambition to expand the appeal of its video game titles beyond gameplay consoles and mobile devices. The "portal of power" technology used in the Skylanders game series has helped the company ring up more than $2 billion in sales of Skylanders figurines,, according to the company's data.
Activision, best known for making games for consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, has been expanding its digital horizons in recent months. In a dramatic departure, the Santa Monica, California-based company has begun shifting its sales to the Internet, which now accounts for three-quarters of its revenue.
Earlier this week, Activision Blizzard announced plans to Digi-Capital., the maker of the enormously popular Candy Crush Saga mobile games, for $5.9 billion. With that move, Activision is hoping to cash in on the growing popularity of mobile gaming, a sector that is expected to hit $29 billion in sales this year and $45 billion by 2017, according to research from intelligence firm
It is also venturing into a, in which professional gamers face off in front of spectators. Last month, it under the direction of veteran executives from ESPN, the NFL Network and Major League Gaming.