Today Activision released its quarterly financial results for calendar year 2017, ended on December 31st, 2016 (Differently from most publishers in the industry, Activision reports its financial based on calendar years instead of fiscal years).
The results are defined “better than expected” and a record for the company.
Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick accompanied the press release with a statement about the publisher’s performance.
“Our record performance in 2016 further strengthened our position as the world’s leading standalone interactive entertainment company. For the quarter and the year, we delivered our highest revenues, non-GAAP redefined operating margins and earnings per share, well surpassing our own expectations.”
“The launch of Blizzard’s Overwatch created a major new franchise, while King’s mobile advertising tests are very promising as the basis for meaningful new revenue streams. We accelerated our efforts in esports and consumer products, enabling more ways to celebrate and connect to our communities. Thanks to the strength of our established franchises and the vitality of our new initiatives, we are well positioned for growth in the years ahead.”
The accompanying press release came with a long list of bullet points about the performance of the company and of its games.
- Activision Blizzard had 447 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)A in the quarter.
- Blizzard had its highest annual MAUsA in 2016 at 36 million, up 37% from 2015 and up 87% since 2014. Additionally, Blizzard achieved record fourth-quarter MAUsA of 41 million. Overwatch became Blizzard’s fastest game ever to reach over 25 million players globally. The title broke the previous launch year record for unit sales set by Diablo® III in 2012 and received 55 “Game of the Year” awards. World of Warcraft® MAUsA grew 10% in 2016 and over 20% year-over-year in the fourth quarter on the back of the successful third-quarter launch of the expansion, Legion™. Also, Hearthstone® had its highest annual MAUsA in 2016, growing more than 20%, in part due to the fourth-quarter expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan™.
- Activision had the biggest online player community in its history in 2016, with annual MAUsA of 50 million for the year, up 3% from 2015 and up 23% since 2014. Fourth-quarter MAUsA were 51 million. Call of Duty® was the number one console franchise globally in 2016, and in North America for the 8th year in a row.1 Life-to-date on current-generation consoles, the Call of Duty franchise had 3 of the top 10 games.
- On October 28, 2016, Activision Blizzard Studios, in partnership with Netflix, debuted Skylanders™ Academy, a new TV series celebrating the beloved kids franchise. The second season will be delivered in 2017, and a third season has been ordered by Netflix.
- King had 405 million MAUsA for the year and 355 million MAUsA for the quarter, both of which were down year-over-year, but with better per user engagement and investment. King had two of the top 10 highest-grossing titles in the U.S. mobile app stores for the thirteenth quarter in a row.2
- In 2016, consumers spent approximately 43 billion hours playing and watching Activision Blizzard content, on par with Netflix and over one-and-a-half times Snapchat.
- Blizzard’s fourth-quarter play time surpassed the previous record set in the third quarter. Overwatch had its second and third seasonal events, Halloween Terror and Winter Wonderland, each one driving new records for engagement with the game. World of Warcraft saw an increase in total play time for the quarter, surpassing the Q3 expansion launch quarter and all non-launch quarters in the last four years.
- King’s time spent per daily active user is now 34 minutes a day, up quarter-over-quarter and yearover-year.
- In 2016, Activision Blizzard’s esports network, Major League Gaming, extended its viewer reach on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram by 50% year-over-year.3
- In 2016, Activision hosted a successful Call of Duty World League season, which had a $3.5 million prize pool across 16 hosted events. The 2016 season had 120 million video views and more than twice the time spent viewing compared to last year’s season.
- In November, Blizzard held its 10th BlizzCon® with over 25 thousand attendees, over 10 million people around the world tuning in to the event and a record number of pay-per-view tickets sold through DirecTV. Blizzard also announced the formation of the Overwatch League™ at BlizzCon.
- Activision Blizzard revenues from in-game content reached a record $3.6 billion in 2016, more than double the $1.6 billion in 2015. Excluding King, revenues from in-game content grew 30% year-over-year.
- Blizzard had record levels of quarterly and full-year in-game revenues, driven by World of Warcraft in-game content and continued strength of Overwatch customization items.
- Activision had record levels of Q4 and full-year in-game revenues. Call of Duty: Black Ops III add-on revenues outperformed Season Pass and à la carte map packs combined, even with record Season Pass participation.
- King’s fourth-quarter gross bookingsB per paying user increased quarter-over-quarter and yearover-year to record levels. The Candy Crush™ franchise continued its momentum, with increased mobile gross bookings for the quarter and the year compared with 2015.
The slides for the conference call presentation also confirmed that a full Destiny sequel is coming in 2017, as the publisher teased during previous conference calls.