Video games have seen marked growth during shelter in place orders, and although virtually all Activision Blizzard games benefited from this circumstance, the largest portion of the overall company’s overall growth came from Call of Duty: Mobile and Warzone. The idea presented being that not only gamers are playing more, but other people are turning to video games as well in order to seek entertainment in a changing social landscape. Along with again raising their full year outlook, several interesting tidbits were shared, such as their estimation that now more than half their total players are female and the Call of Duty Endowment project having helped over 72,000 veterans find jobs and transition back to civilian life.
As the pandemic continues and people find themselves with less discretionary spending available, there’s a great deal of question regarding whether games are recession proof, as it’s a relatively cheap form of digital entertainment which consumers can engage in without leaving the house. Several big developers including Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive have similarly reported soaring success as new players are driven to finding more forms of entertainment at home.
“Our mission to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment has never been more meaningful. Our 400 million players continue to experience fun, joy and accomplishment through our games. Our record engagement resulted in greater revenue and earnings per share than previously forecast. While economic uncertainty could have an impact on our near-term results, the initiatives that drove our growth for the first half of the year should also provide the foundation for long-term growth.”
– Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard
- 125 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the second quarter.
- Call of Duty: Warzone has reached over 75 million players, and hours played have increased eight-fold.
- Call of Duty Mobile saw strong growth and climbed the top-grossing charts in US app stores.
- Call of Duty in-game net bookings reached a new quarterly record, around five times higher than a year ago.
- 32 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the second quarter.
- World of Warcraft engagement has increased sequentially since launch of Classic, specifically citing engagement with Ahn’Qiraj in July.
- Enthusiastic response from Shadowlands testing and increased pre-sales, with franchise engagement ahead of an expansion at its highest point in a decade.
- A significant number of returning players to Overwatch, with engagement growing year over year.
- Hearthstone continues to build on the success of Battlegrounds and live operations, with new expansions, engagement features, and a new game mode planned.
- Diablo: Immortal entry into mobile looks great with internal company play testing starting in the coming weeks.
- 271 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the second quarter.
- Candy Crush grew by double-digit percentages, and is once again the top grossing franchise in the U.S. mobile app stores. It continues to drive high engagement, even as shelter-at-home conditions taper off.
- Crash Bandicoot: On the Run coming to mobile, with deep social and resource management elements.
The Q&A portion at the end of the conference call covered many topics, including the impact of Covid-19 and future expectations as shelter-in-place conditions decline, which was met with the reasoning that growth in gaming has been strong for several years already as consumers leisure time has shifted to more interactive forms of entertainment (gaming), and the pandemic simply continued that trend. ATVI is very confident in their growth and ability to retain new players, as they believe that new consumers will gravitate toward the largest and most well established franchises which receive continual updates, as has been demonstrated by the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty franchises.
A few points were raised regarding the development teams transition to working from home and the challenges that presented. While they believe their teams have adapted very well, it does make coordination harder, so it’s hard to determine the long term impact on projects which are still in a creative stage, as the longer it persists the greater the challenge will be. With the pandemic also leading to the cancellation of BlizzCon 2020, they also confirmed their intent on channeling the spirit of Blizzcon into a virtual event early next year, where they’ll sharing what the teams have been working on.
Diablo: Immortal was also brought up, specifically the mobile title’s expectations and upcoming regional testing plan. Blizzard reiterated that expanded internal testing would begin this quarter, which is an important step as the company itself encompasses a range of players which they believe well represent many aspects of their global gaming community. Also emphasized was the importance in ensuring Diablo: Immortal is a deep and engaging authentic Blizzard RPG experience, and while they’re eager to get it into player’s hands, they are also more than willing to spend the time to get it right.