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$200 Mil. Activision Media in Play

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NEW YORK Video game marketer Activision Blizzard has put its estimated $200 million global media account into review, the client has confirmed.

Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, the U.S. incumbent on Activision, will defend, per sources. Other contenders, sources said, include Havas' MPG, Omnicom's OMD,  WPP's Mediaedge:cia and independent Horizon Media, which is pitching in partnership with Columbus Media International, the global agency consortium it helped form three years ago.

In the U.S. alone the client spent approximately $70 million on ads in 2008, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The review follows the July 2008 merger of Activision with Vivendi, a rival maker of video games under the Blizzard Entertainment label. Activision sells the popular Guitar Hero, game while Blizzard developed the online multiplayer title World of Warcraft.

Russell Wohlwerth of Ark Advisors in Playa del Rey, Calif., is managing the review process. He couldn't be reached for comment.

The agencies declined to comment on the review or referred calls to the client.

Despite the success of several titles -- notably its Guitar Hero franchise -- the company has of late turned in disappointing financial performances.

The game giant posted a $72 million net loss in the fourth quarter, compared with an $86 million profit last year. It was the first full quarter for the company since its merger with Vivendi's game unit, so the comparison isn't exact.

Excluding deferred revenue and some charges, the company would have earned $429 million on net revenue of $1.64 billion. Those numbers beat Wall Street forecasts, but Activision offered gloomy 2009 guidance, projecting revenue this year of $4.7 billion, about $500 million shy of analysts' estimated.