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Activision Blizzard Fourth Quarter 2020 Financial Results - More Mobile Titles in Development
04/02/2021 à 17:51
Activision Blizzard just finished their
fourth-quarter financial results conference call
, announcing better than expected results for Q4 and the full year of 2020. Major topics include the tremendous success of the Call of Duty model, Shadowlands launch, and multiple mobile titles for Blizzard franchises in advanced development.
Blizzard Entertainment highlights include Diablo Immortal scheduled to launch later this year, as well as several hints regarding remasters (
Diablo 2: Resurrected
) and multiple
aimed at expanding the Warcraft universe already in advanced development, calling mobile a top priority to give fans new ways to engage and experience Blizzard franchises. Naturally, most of the specifics are being saved for the upcoming
, though Diablo Immortal playtesting was
extremely well received
, while Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 are not expected until at least 2022.
In his opening speech, CEO Bobby Kotick praised the
Call of Duty endowment
, which achieved its most successful year ever in placing over 15,000 veterans into high quality jobs in 2020. Since its inception in 2009, the endowment has funded the placement of 81,000 veterans into new jobs. He also brought up their
$4 million pledge
to the United Negro College Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow, although the company still received derision after resisting a shareholder proposal to
institute a Rooney Rule
The success of the Call of Duty: Warzone model was also frequently mentioned, becoming a roadmap which they are now applying to other games. The success of the dual free to play and premium content models has more than tripled the number of Call of Duty players from 70 million in 2018 to over 250 million this past year and that success again reinforces the idea for more mobile tie-ins for other franchises. With over 400 million monthly active users in 2020, Activision Blizzard is committed to accelerating their path to reach a billion players, by applying the Call of Duty blueprint to bring free to play access, premium content, and continuous delivery of in-game content to their other franchises. Three franchises generated over $1 billion in net bookings in 2020, and two more are anticipated to hit that mark over the next couple of years.
In a year filled with adversity our extraordinary employees were determined to provide connection and joy to our 400 million players around the world. They accomplished this as well as generating record financial results for our shareholders. Under difficult circumstances, but with the same conviction and focus, they will continue to do so in 2021.
- Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard
Activision - 128 million monthly active users, up from 111 million in Q3
Extraordinary success, with Call of Duty entering 2021 with the largest community ever as one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time.
Call of Duty
net bookings grew by a double digit percentage, unit sell-through grew sharply following the launch of Black Ops Cold War's first season, and has seen the highest number of battle passes consumed since the introduction of the new system in late 2019.
Call of Duty Mobile
delivered its best quarter yet, with strong double-digit growth in net bookings. Monthly payers in the West reached the highest level yet, average spend per payer increased strongly, and the December launch in China quickly topped download charts.
Blizzard Entertainment - 29 million monthly active users, down from 30 million in Q3
Extremely high engagement for Shadowlands, with Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, and multiple unannounced projects in the works (Diablo 2: Resurrected, mobile Warcraft games). Mobile remains a top priority to give fans new ways to engage and experience Blizzard franchises.
World of Warcraft
has seen strong enagement in Classic and Retail throughout 2020. Full year franchise net bookings grew 40% year-over-year, with sharp growth in the fourth quarter attributed to the sales of Shadowlands, reaching the highest level in nearly a decade. MAUs grew year-over-year for the sixth consecutive quarter.
player and engagement trends are stronger than levels typically seen at this point after an expansion launch.
has received very positive feedback and strong engagement metrics after the first stage of regional testing. More players will get to experience the game in further rounds of testing ahead of the launch planned for later this year.
BlizzConline will engage and celebrate the community, channeling the spirit of BlizzCon and sharing future plans for Blizzard franchises this February 19th and 20th.
Now, turning to Blizzard. Blizzard is committed to improving consistent innovation and content delivery for its dedicated players. World of Warcraft had a strong year, with net bookings growing over 40% year-over-year to the highest level in nearly a decade. Fourth quarter net bookings for the franchise grew by a double-digit percentage year-over-year, driven by strong sales of the Shadowlands expansion, subscriber growth and high participation in value-added services.
World of Warcraft reach expanded year-over-year for the sixth consecutive quarter, contributing to overall Blizzard MAUs of 29 million in Q4. The trends for reach and engagement after the launch of Shadowlands are even stronger than the levels we typically see at this stage after an expansion launch. With both the modern and the classic modes continuing to operate at global scale, Blizzard has more opportunity to delight and engage the World of Warcraft community than ever before.
Looking forward, the multiple Warcraft teams have an unwavering commitment to innovation and expansion for reach, engagement and player investment through more new content initiatives across platforms, positioning the franchise for further growth in 2021 and beyond. The Overwatch franchise continues to engage its community with in-game content and to celebrate its players in the Overwatch League, where teams are preparing for the start of the 2021 season in April.
And mobile remains a top priority at Blizzard, both to give existing fans new ways to engage and to allow new players to experience its franchises. Diablo Immortal concluded its first stage of regional testing with very positive player feedback, a lot of excitement about the depth and authenticity of this latest Diablo experience and strong engagement metrics. We look forward to getting the game in the hands of more players in further regional testing, ahead of a launch planned for later this year.
And the Blizzard team is looking forward to channeling the spirit of BlizzCon to engage and celebrate the community once again at BlizzConline on February 19 and 20 where they will share more about the plans for the franchises.
In the Diablo franchise, Diablo Immortal, our upcoming free-to-play mobile title, was extremely well-received during its regional testing and this has set the stage for the franchise to meaningfully expand its global reach. In addition to launching new Diablo content this year, our highly anticipated Diablo IV is on the horizon. As we execute on our Diablo pipeline, we expect the franchise to contribute meaningfully to our reach, engagement and .player investment growth in the coming quarters and years ahead.
In our Warcraft franchise, we intend to deliver more frequent premium content to sustain and expand the World of Warcraft community and we've made multiple mobile free-to-play Warcraft experiences and they're now in advanced development, based on our franchise's beloved IP. This will create opportunities for both existing players and new fans to experience the Warcraft universe in entirely new ways.
King - 240 million monthly active users, down from 249 million in Q3
Best full year financial performance since its acquisition in 2016. In-game net bookings grew by a double-digit percentage year-over-year in the fourth quarter.
showed strong growth with in-game spending per player and double-digit year-over-year growth for in-game net bookings in the fourth quarter. Candy Crush was once again the top grossing franchise in the U.S. app stores.
grew net bookings, driven by live operations and seasonal events.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!
planned for March will introduce fans to an entirely new Crash Bandicoot experience on mobile.
Much of the Q&A session followed the success of the three main franchises - Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft, again citing Call of Duty's engagement methods as a model to apply to other games. Warzone is cited as an important piece of the COD franchise, with great results on the conversion from F2P to premium, and will continue to be a central part of content planning to allow the entire community to experience the latest the franchise has to offer. Player expectations are very high, and they want to make sure they
deliver on that front moving forward.
The pandemic was also discussed, questioning whether reduced restrictions will result in a decline for the entertainment industry, though Activision Blizzard has strong convictions that their current momentum is sustainable, due to the deep pipeline of upcoming content, which should exceed player expectations. While many titles saw increased engagement at the start of the pandemic, social engagement has remained at an elevated level despite lifting of restrictions in various parts of the world, with CoD and WoW engagement substantially higher than it was at the start. All three major franchises have major potential for growth, between a full year of Warzone for CoD and increased mobile opportunity in China, Shadowlands launch momentum and great engagement in Classic, and Crash Bandicoot On the Run releasing this March. There were also hints at a few other things up their sleeve, specifically remastered content which will be unveiled later this year (almost certainly
Diablo 2: Resurrected
Activision Blizzard is also committed to continuing to expand development teams in the key three franchises - Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. Mobile is a top priority as they continue to focus resources and investment in the largest franchises in order to bring more content more frequently to the communities that most expect it. Warcraft franchises alone has hundreds of millions of players world wide who have played interacted with Warcraft in different ways, and the franchises has a lot of potential far beyond where it is today (again hinting at
mobile projects in development
Finally, the long term content plans for Warcraft and expectations for WoW growth in 2021 were discussed, with it being noted that modern and Classic WoW aren't 1:1 in terms of what players expect and desire. The two communities engage in different way, but the unified sub helps both, as players can flip between games as each releases new content. The launch of Shadowlands in a work from home environment is a point of pride for Blizzard, and the expansion has turned out great so far, with content for players of all types to engage with, resulting in the game's highest engagement in the last 10 years and a much a larger player base than that of a year ago. The Classic community also remains highly engaged, and Blizzard is committed to giving players who love the game a way to re-live their original experience with the game - they want to
continue to explore Classic nostalgia
, and have more plans to reveal for both Classic and Retail (at
). WoW will be a significant growth driver for Blizzard this year.
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