Destiny Getting New Expansion in 2016 and Full Sequel in 2017; New Call of Duty Coming from Infinity Ward
Activision Blizzard just released its financial results for the fourth quarter of calendar year 2015, ended on December 31st. Below you can see the results for both the fourth quarter and the full year.
We also get the first forecast for the first calendar quarter of 2016, and for the full year.
The press release listed a few highlights that contributed to the quarterly results mentioned above, including big numbers for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. We also learn that Destiny will get a major expansion this year and a full sequel next year. A new “innovative” Call of Duty game has also been confirmed for this year, predictably from Infinity Ward.
A new Skylanders game will also be released this year.
- At constant FX, Activision Publishing’s 2015 non-GAAP operating income grew 30%, and revenues grew 7%. Average MAUs for the year were up 20% year-over-year, reaching an all-time high, and digital revenues grew over 65%. Activision Publishing now has 4 of the top 10 games on next-generation consoles life-to-date, including Call of Duty®: Black Ops III at number one.
- Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty franchise revenues grew double digits year-over-year both for the full year and in Q4, ending the quarter with the highest MAUs in franchise history. The strong performance was driven by Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which had the biggest entertainment opening weekend of 2015, and was the #1 console game globally for the calendar year. Call of Duty was the #1 franchise in North America for the seventh year in a row. Black Ops III also has the highest season pass attach rate for downloadable content in franchise history. The Call of Duty franchise has now surpassed 250 million units sold life-to-date worldwide with over $15 billion in total sales, including in-game content, since it first launched in 2003.
- Activision Publishing’s Destiny achieved record digital attach rates on its critically acclaimed Q3 expansion, The Taken King. Destiny’s 25+ million registered users have logged nearly 3 billion hours playing the game.
- Activision Publishing’s casual titles, namely Q3 release Skylanders® SuperChargers and Q4 release Guitar Hero® Live, performed weaker than expected, we believe largely due to greater competition in the toys to life genre and due to the casual audience’s shift to mobile devices.
- Blizzard Entertainment reached an all-time high for MAUsA in 2015. Fourth quarter MAUs were up nearly 25% year-over-year, reflecting strong engagement with the online player community. At constant FX, Blizzard’s 2015 revenues are above 2014’s record results.
- On November 6, 2015, Blizzard Entertainment revealed that Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™ had surpassed the 40 million-registered-player milestone. On November 12, 2015, Blizzard launched The League of Explorers™, the third adventure for the franchise, with 45 new cards. This Adventure sold over 20% more units as of the first 6 weeks after launch than the prior Adventure in the same time frame. As a result of this new content, and continued strength across platforms and geographies, Hearthstone hit all-time franchise highs in multiple categories, including MAUsA, at the end of Q4.
- On November 6, 2015, Blizzard Entertainment kicked off presales for Legion™, the upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft®.Pre-purchasers will receive the expansion’s level-100 character boost, as well as early access to the Demon Hunter class when available. World of Warcraft remains the #1 subscription‐based MMORPG in the world.
- On November 10, 2015, Blizzard Entertainment launched Legacy of the Void™, the standalone third chapter of StarCraft® II, selling through over 1 million copies in the first 24 hours of launch. Legacy of the Void received multiple Strategy Game of the Year awards. At BlizzCon® on November 6, 2015, Blizzard announced plans for a series of standalone mission packs.
- At BlizzCon, Blizzard Entertainment announced Heroes of the Storm’s™ upcoming Arena mode, planned for release in 2016, featuring smaller maps and shorter sessions. Heroes of the Storm ended the year taking home multiple awards, including Best Competitive Multiplayer and Best MOBA from Game Informer.
- On November 2, 2015, the company announced its agreement to acquire King Digital Entertainment for approximately $5.9 billion in equity value ($4.8 billion in enterprise value). Following the closing of the transaction, the addition of King’s business is expected to further position Activision Blizzard for growth across platforms, audiences, genres, and business models. Our outlook for 2016 includes King, assuming we receive the necessary regulatory approvals to allow us to complete the transaction, which is currently expected to close later this month.
- On December 22, 2015, Activision Publishing announced that the field is set for the inaugural Call of Duty World League Pro Division, with 800 professional esports teams across the world vying for more than $3 million in cash prizes playing Call of Duty: Black Ops III, culminating with the Call of Duty Championship presented by PlayStation 4 in the fall of 2016.
- On February 2, 2016, Activision Publishing launched the first of four map packs for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, delivering four new, epic multiplayer maps in addition to an all-new Zombies experience, available first on PlayStation 4.
- In Q4 2016, Activision Publishing plans to release an innovative new Call of Duty game from its studio, Infinity Ward, the makers of the Modern Warfare series.
- Activision Publishing, along with its partners at Bungie, expects to bring a large new expansion to Destiny in 2016 and to release a full game sequel in 2017.
- Activision Publishing expects a new Skylanders game to launch in 2016 along with Skylanders Academy, a new TV series celebrating the beloved kids franchise.
- On January 28, 2016, Blizzard Entertainment announced the 2016 Heroes of the Dorm™ competition, featuring online team brawlerHeroes of the Storm, with more than $500,000 in tuition and other prizes on the line as part of this year’s event. Esports fans will be able to follow the action on ESPN networks, who will once again deliver live coverage of the events on television and digital platforms.
- Blizzard Entertainment’s team-based shooter, Overwatch™, will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in spring of 2016. An initial closed beta test ran from October 27, 2015 to December 10, 2015, and the game reached top-viewed status on Twitch. Closed beta testing resumed on February 9, 2016.
- Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is expected to launch its highly anticipated expansion, Legion, this summer, following the June release of the Warcraft film by Legendary Pictures.
- On January 4, 2016, Activision Blizzard announced the acquisition of Major League Gaming, a leader in creating and streaming premium live gaming events, organizing professional competitions and running competitive gaming leagues. The acquisition expands Activision Blizzard’s reach across the rapidly-growing esports ecosystem by adding proven live streaming capabilities and technologies to the Activision Blizzard Media Networks division, led by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming co-founder Mike Sepso.
- Activision Blizzard’s first quarter and calendar year 2016 outlook is as follows. Please note that this outlook includes King Digital Entertainment in our results based on an assumed transaction close later this month.
Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick also accompanied the press release with a statement, providing the point of view of the executive team.
“With our expected closing of the acquisition of King Digital later this month, we will have the largest game network in the world, with over 500 million users playing our games every month.A Our entertainment franchises, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and soon Candy Crush, will reach people on mobile, console and desktop devices in almost every country in the world. This gives us the opportunity to engage our global audiences and create revenue streams from content and services. Our esports initiatives, enhanced by our recent acquisition of Major League Gaming, allow us to reward our players around the world for their dedication and investment in our games. We expect to generate approximately $6.25 billion in revenues and over $2.0 billion of operating income in 2016 and we will have over 9,000 of the most talented people making, marketing and selling great games around the world.”
If you were expecting to read new subscriber data for World of Warcraft, that won’t happen, as the company announced during November’s conference call that they won’t be provided anymore.