Activision Blizzard Third Quarter 2020 Financial Results - Ahead of Expectations
29/10/2020 à 20:27
Activision Blizzard just finished their third-quarter financial results conference call, announcing better than expected third quarter results, with tremendous success in the
Call of Duty
driving unprecedented engagement ahead of an expansion release. The total player base has grown 23% compared to last year, with expectations for both the fourth quarter and full year increasing, predicting 25% net bookings growth in 2020. The full
contains all of the information presented and you can compare back to our
second quarter coverage
which similarly exceeded expectations. Blizzard also noted that
pre-sales are at the highest the company has seen at this stage, while also acknowledging that
development is still on track.
Growth is up across the board since last year, with the largest success coming from Call of Duty, citing the combination of premium Modern Warfare and free to play Warzone content expanding the community and driving engagement. The
Black Ops: Cold War
trailer revealed to
players was also cited as a "true virtual water cooler moment" of engagement, noting how going direct to the players proved more effective marketing than any paid media network, which could be indicative of an evolving marketing strategy driven by the huge reach of Activision's player base.
Blizzard Entertainment is reported to have the
largest team ever
working on ensuring
meets player expectations, and the next year will purportedly follow the expansion launch with more content for the franchise than ever before. Specifically mentioning a determination to deliver more frequent major content for both retail and Classic could be a hint toward Burning Crusades development, as Classic is already nearing its final phase with the release of Naxxramas, and there wouldn't be much else to develop otherwise. Other franchises will also be looking to emulate the success in expanding Call of Duty, although interestingly, the six key franchises were identified as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Diablo - notably excluding StarCraft for the time being.
CEO Bobby Kotick also praised the work of employees who have successfully transitioned to a work from home model amidst the pandemic, while also mentioning the hundreds of Orange County employees recently evacuated due to wildfires. Despite these setbacks however, the continuing outlook is extremely positive: few entertainment franchises generate over 1 billion dollars in annual net bookings, while Activision Blizzard now enjoying three of them between Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush.
"Our teams continue to execute our growth plans with excellence during incredibly challenging circumstances. We are on a path to deliver sustained longterm growth across our fully-owned franchises. With confidence in our ability to continue to execute, we are raising our outlook for the year and remain enthusiastic for our growth prospects next year."
- Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
monthly active users (MAUs) tripled to over 111 million since last year, with over 7 times as many hours played across console and PC combined.
first year premium sales are the highest in franchise history, with 2/3 of units sold digitally.
Call of Duty
console and PC in-game net bookings were four times higher.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
will release on November 13 into the largest and most engaged community at the time of
launch in franchise history.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
1 & 2 launched to fantastic reviews and became the fastest title in the series to reach over 1 million units sold, highlighting increased opportunity for classic franchises.
World of Warcraft
is holding stable since last year, with Blizzard total at 30 million monthly active users (MAUs).
presales well ahead of any prior expansion, with franchise engagement at its highest level at this stage ahead of an expansion release in a decade.
hours played have grown since last year, with Battlegrounds seeing sustained strong engagement since its release last November.
Madness at the Darkmoon Faire
will release in November, alongside a new in-game
is sustaining 10M MAUs in the quarter, over four years since launch.
The October Grand Finals were the most-watched event in the Overwatch League’s history.
has passed internal company play testing and will soon enter external regional testing.
249 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the third quarter.
Now starting to see the benefits of last year’s initiatives with a healthier payer base that is responding positively to compelling new features and live operations.
was once again the top grossing franchise in the U.S. app
Greater frequency of in-game content has also led to net bookings growth in
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!
will be coming to to mobile in Spring 2021, with very strong fan reception at around 10M pre-registrations.
Most of the Q&A portion focused on
Call of Duty
as an important piece of the franchise, as it engages the entire community with the premium games. Additional clarification that upcoming
Black Ops Cold War
progression will build upon the success and work similarly to
, so all the new Black Ops unlocks will be useable in Warzone, the same way it worked with Modern Warfare. Players can also continue to use Modern Warfare content in Warzone, and will be able to switch between Black Ops or Modern Warfare loadouts. Finally, players can expect a ton of free post-launch content as they continue to incentivize and expand mobile development.
Little was said regarding Blizzard Entertainment or
specifically, although President J. Allen Brack spoke on how the Shadowlands delay was made in order to ensure the quality of the game would match expectations and that community feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The quality of the game is the top concern and really strong player engagement and expansion presales. That said, Warcraft as a huge franchise in which which WoW is only a part of, and their team is always exploring how to express Warcraft with new experiences and see a lot of opportunity for growth in 2020 and beyond. This vague statement doesn't tell us much except that there may be plans for future Warcraft content which is not explicitly a part of the MMO, whether that will take the form of supplementary books and comics, a new mobile title, or otherwise will remain to be seen.
Much of the report follows the success of
Call of Duty
, driven in no small part by mobile development, and while Activision is keeping an eye on all platforms, they are invested in capitalizing on the biggest platform there is right now: mobile development, with its billions of capable devices. Blizzard previously mentioned
development of mobile titles for all franchises
, and this would seem to reaffirm that commitment.
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