Overwatch Reaches 15 Million Players Worldwide; Activision Announces Positive Financial Results

Today Activision Blizzard announced “better than expected” financial results for the second quarter of calendar year 2016. Related to the period between April 1st and June 30th, 2017.

The press release listed a few relevant key points about the performance of the company and its games. Among other things, we learn that Overwatch has reached 15 million players worldwide. , with 500 million hours of gameplay accumulated by the user base.

Audience Reach

  • Activision Blizzard had 491 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)A in the quarter.
  • Blizzard had the biggest quarterly online player community in its history, with MAUsA of 33 million, up 29% quarter-over-quarter and 13% year-over-year. This reflects the successful launch of Overwatch® and strength across the broader portfolio, including Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft, which had record quarterly MAUsA, and World of Warcraft®, which had double-digit MAUA growth quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year.
  • On May 24, 2016, Blizzard launched Overwatch which now has over 15 million players globally, including box and digital sales, internet game room players, and multi-user console households. In China, Overwatch broke the previous record set by Diablo® III as the fastest-selling PC game in the market’s history.1 Overwatch also currently holds the number one position in Korean Internet Game Rooms with over 30% share of play time.2
  • Activision had the biggest second quarter online player community in its history, with MAUsA of 49 million, up 11% year-over-year. Activision continues to have four of the top ten games on current-generation consoles life-to-date, including Call of Duty®: Black Ops III at No. 1.3
  • King MAUsA of 409 million declined in the quarter as expected due to seasonal trends and launch timing. King had three of the top-15-grossing titles in the U.S. mobile app stores for the tenth quarter in a row.4

Deep Engagement

  • Activision Blizzard’s deep game experiences drove nearly 10 billion hours of play time during Q2.
  • Players have spent about 500 million hours playing Blizzard’s Overwatch, with additional content updates ahead.
  • Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft had record total quarterly time spent with the launch of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion.
  • King’s time spent per MAUA was up quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year.
  • Activision and its partners at Bungie launched an update in April for Destiny which drove strong reengagement, with an increase in MAUsA and time spent per MAUA month-over-month.
  • Activision Blizzard’s esports network, Major League Gaming, debuted the Enhanced Viewer Experience (EVE) which provides viewers with match statistics, up-to-the-minute leaderboards and situational insights live as the competition unfolds. MLG also announced a partnership with Facebook that includes broadcast of the “ESR” (Esports Report) on the social network platform. MLG’s inaugural broadcast on Facebook was the June Call of Duty World League event, the Anaheim Open. Since the December acquisition, MLG’s reach on Facebook is up 700%.
  • With the growth of the Call of Duty World League, Call of Duty esports viewership increased by more than 5 times year-over-year to 33 million views of the Stage 1 events. This year’s major events are yet to come.

Player Investment

  • Activision Blizzard GAAP revenues from in-game content reached a record of over $900 million this quarter. Activision Blizzard non-GAAP (as previously defined) revenues from in-game content reached a record of over $1 billion this quarterB. In-game content continues to be a rapidly growing part of the business.
  • Blizzard had its biggest segment revenue quarter and first half year, ever. Blizzard’s quarterly segment operating income nearly tripled vs. the second quarter last year. Additionally, Blizzard had record second quarter GAAP revenues and record quarterly non-GAAP revenues (as previously defined) in China. Blizzard’s overall performance was driven in particular by Overwatch‘s outstanding launch, World of Warcraft‘s strong pre-expansion momentum, with Legion pre-purchases tracking in-line with the previous expansion, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft‘s double digit revenue growth year-over-year.
  • Activision had its biggest segment operating income second quarter and first half year, ever, with continued momentum on Call of Duty, including on catalog sales, Season Pass, map packs and micro-transactions, and continued engagement on Destiny.
  • Gross bookingsC for King’s Candy Crush™ franchise grew quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. In addition, King’s average revenue per paying user grew quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, also driving year-over-year growth in King’s mobile gross bookingsC.

Company Outlook:

  • On July 12, 2016, Activision released the third of four map packs for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, delivering four multiplayer maps in addition to an all-new Zombies experience, available first on PlayStation 4.
  • On August 2, 2016, Blizzard launched its Summer Games content for Overwatch. The content includes a new soccer-like game mode and includes a variety of new Summer Games-themed cosmetic content in loot boxes.
  • From August 5 to August 7, 2016, MLG will host a Call of Duty World League event in Orlando with a $100,000 prize pool.
  • On August 11, 2016, Blizzard plans to release a new adventure for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The adventure, One Night in Karazhan™, will offer single-player content and the ability to earn new cards for multiplayer duels.
  • On August 30, 2016, Blizzard is expected to launch its highly anticipated World of Warcraft expansion, Legion. World of Warcraft remains the No. 1 subscription‐based MMORPG in the world.
  • From September 2 to September 4, 2016, Activision will host fans at Call of Duty XP. Thousands of fans will enjoy hands-on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare play, the first Call of Duty VR experience, exhibits, developer panels, a surprise musical guest, and more. Call of Duty XP will also host the finals for the Call of Duty World League Championships, where teams from around the world will compete for a $3 million prize pool.
  • On September 20, Activision and Bungie plan to release Rise of Iron, a large new expansion for the Destiny universe. The expansion will include a new location, a new Raid, a new Strike, more quests, weapons, and gear, and a new competitive multiplayer mode.
  • On October 16, 2016, Activision is expected to release Skylanders®: Imaginators, an innovative new title. For the first time ever, players will be able to create their own Skylanders characters. Skylanders Academy, a new TV series celebrating the beloved kids franchise is expected to premiere on Netflix this fall.
  • On November 4, 2016, Activision is expected to launch the highly anticipated Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. This is the first release on a three-year development cycle from award-winning studio, Infinity Ward. Fans will also have the opportunity to purchase Legacy and Digital Deluxe Editions including a remastered copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare®, one of the most beloved games of the franchise.
  • Blizzard’s tenth BlizzCon® will be returning to the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday, November 4, and Saturday, November 5. Thousands of tickets again sold out in a matter of minutes, but online access via the purchase of a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket is again available for this year’s show.
  • King is expected to have one additional non-Candy Crush franchise release coming towards the end of the year.
  • Based on its year-to-date results, Activision Blizzard is raising its full-year net revenues and earnings per share outlook. The company’s third-quarter and full-year net revenues and earnings per share outlook are as follows:

Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick also accompanied the press release with a statement:

“With Overwatch’s incredibly successful launch, Call of Duty’s record first half performance, and Candy Crush’s continued growth as key drivers of our overall performance, we delivered a record Q2. We exceeded our non-GAAP (as previously defined) outlook by $234 million in revenues and $0.16 in earnings per share, and raised our full-year outlook.”

The lynchpin of our current success and our future growth is our talent. Our teams have the unique combination of passion, entrepreneurial spirit and inspired creativity. The success of Overwatch, our newest franchise, is a testament to this talent. I’m grateful to our over 10,000 employees, each of whom embodies these characteristics of our culture.”

Last but not least, we get a breakdown of the company’s results by platform family and region.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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