According to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, a publisher wanting to make a MMORPG to take on World of Warcraft (WOW) would need to invest up to a billion dollars, and would face uncertain success.

"We don't think that even if we made the USD 500 million or billion-dollar investment to get a product out [to compete with WOW] that we would even be successful doing it," Kotick said at an investor meeting, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz.

Activision merged with WOW-publisher Vivendi to create Activision Blizzard late last year.

"When we first started looking at [WOW], it appeared to us like a game in an insurmountable product category... EA, Microsoft, Sony and scores of venture capital investments had been put to work unsuccessfully in trying to develop massively multiplayer games as a product opportunity," Kotick said.

"When you... Look at all the money that's already gone to these businesses that have failed, there didn't seem a likelihood that even a well-managed company like Activision would have the prospect for profit any time soon in this category."

Microsoft cancelled its Marvel Universe Online, a MMORPG based on the Marvel range of comic book heroes, last month, citing "an inability to compete" in the current marketplace.