Activision Blizzard Q2 2021 Investor Call
The Activision Blizzard earnings call was this afternoon. We've highlighted some of the written results below.

  • Activision had 127 million MAUs in the second quarter, down from 150 million MAUs in the first quarter, down from 128 million MAUs in Q4 2020, up from 111M in Q3 and 125M in Q2.
  • Blizzard had 26 million MAUs in the second quarter, down from 27 million MAUs in the first quarter, down from 29 million in Q4 2020, down from 30 million in Q3 2020, and down from 32 million in Q1/Q2 2020.
  • World of Warcraft net bookings again grew a double-digit percentage year-over-year, driven by the launch of Burning Crusade Classic.
  • Subscriber numbers and hours played were higher following the release, demonstrating the importance of Classic in enabling more ways for players to engage.
  • World of Warcraft remains on track for much stronger engagement this year than is typical outside of a modern expansion year.
  • The latest expansion of the Hearthstone franchise, Forged in the Barrens, delivered expansion-over-expansion net bookings growth for a second consecutive release following its March launch
  • The team is pursuing additional opportunities to make Diablo Immortal even more engaging for a wider audience, with the launch now slated for first half of 2022
  • Blizzard continues to make strong progress on Diablo 4 and is allocating substantial resources to creating exciting in-game content to drive engagement over multiple years
  • Overwatch 2 development passed an important internal milestone in recent weeks. After a great response to the recent community update, the team is looking forward to revealing more of the game in the coming months as they approach the laterstages of production.



Blizzard Employee Letter to Leadership
IGN shared Blizzard employee's letter to management.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
To CEO Bobby Kotick and the Activision Blizzard executive leadership team,

We are The ABK Workers Alliance, an organized group of current Activision Blizzard, Inc. employees committed to defending our right to a safe and equitable workplace. That right remains endangered as the stories of abuse and mistreatment continue to grow in scope, and new accounts of harassment perpetrated by current Activision Blizzard employees have continued to emerge since the publication of the DFEH’s lawsuit.

Last week, we took collective action to demand better working conditions for women and other marginalized groups at Activision Blizzard King (ABK) by writing an open letter signed by more than 3,000 current employees. We organized the #ActiBlizzWalkout at Blizzard Entertainment’s Irvine headquarters where more than 500 workers walked out and hundreds more participated virtually around the world.

Our request for action crosses studio lines, including workers from Activision, Beenox, Blizzard Entertainment, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software, and Vicarious Visions. Our goal is for the executive leadership team to address their response to the California DFEH lawsuit, acknowledge the reality of working conditions across our organization, and commit to meaningful change at Activision Blizzard.

We communicated a list of four demands aimed at protecting our most vulnerable workers. These are: (1) an end to forced arbitration in employment agreements, (2) the adoption of inclusive recruitment and hiring practices, (3) increases in pay transparency through compensation metrics, and (4) an audit of ABK policies and practices to be performed by a neutral third-party. Importantly, we demanded that this third party be selected by an employee-led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force.

In response to our demands, you wrote a letter to employees expressing a commitment to doing a better job of listening. You said you would do everything possible to work with employees in improving our workplace. And yet, the solutions you proposed in that letter did not meaningfully address our requests. You ignored our call for an end to mandatory arbitration. You did not commit to adopting inclusive recruitment and hiring practices. You made no comment on pay transparency.

One of our demands, a third-party audit of ABK practices and policies, was ostensibly addressed by your decision to hire WilmerHale to conduct an internal review. While we commend the idea of hiring a third-party firm to perform an internal review, The ABK Workers Alliance cannot support the choice of WilmerHale as an impartial reviewer.

We reject the selection of WilmerHale for the following reasons:

  • WilmerHale’s pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives create an unacceptable conflict of interest.
    • Activision Blizzard has already been a client of WilmerHale, who you used to dispute the Diverse Candidate Search Policy proposed by the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund and UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust earlier in 2021.
    • ○ Frances Townsend is known to have relationships with multiple partners at WilmerHale, including former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
  • WilmerHale has a history of discouraging workers’ rights and collective action.
    • WilmerHale states on their public website that their services include “advising on union awareness and avoidance”.
    • WilmerHale used anti-collective action tactics in their work with Amazon & Uber.
    • In media portrayals, WilmerHale is regularly referred to as a “Union Busting Firm”. We are already seeing the effects of this ideology in actions that leadership has taken to restrict our freedom of association since last week, including reducing the size of listening sessions and limiting access to those sessions.
  • The WilmerHale partner leading this investigation, Stephanie Avakian, specializes in protecting the wealthy and powerful.
    • WilmerHale outlined Avakian’s work as: “...counseling and defending financial institutions, public and private companies, hedge funds, accounting firms, investment advisors, boards, corporate executives, and individuals facing regulatory and criminal investigations and litigation with the government.”
    • In Stephanie’s speech highlighting her successes with the SEC, all of her significant examples included achievements in favor of investors, retail clients, and customers, but does not once mention employees or laborers. We need legal representation that centers on the concerns of our current employees, rather than investors.

We call on you and your executive leadership team to do better, and to fully address our list of demands. We will not abandon our cause. Our ranks continue to grow across multiple Activision Blizzard studios. While there are structural problems that only you can address, we are already taking steps to improve our workplace through a number of employee-driven initiatives:

  • Worker-to-Worker Mentorship: We are building a mentorship program where workers can seek career advice, support, and sponsorship from a network of colleagues in a safe external channel outside company communication networks.
  • Open Listening Sessions: We will host listening sessions that will be recorded and disseminated across the organization to facilitate ongoing conversation, education, and emotional support for employees.
  • Community Meetings: We will facilitate monthly employee meetings, in a secure external channel, to discuss our concerns, desires, and progress toward achieving our goals. All current ABK employees are welcome to participate in these conversations.

As these actions show, we love our studios and care deeply for our colleagues. We share your expressed unwavering commitment to improving our company together.

We are doing what we can, and we call on you to do what we cannot.

Sincerely,

The ABK Workers Alliance

Twitter: @ABetterABK
This article was originally published in forum thread: Activision Blizzard Q2 2021 Investor Call, Blizzard Employee Letter to Leadership started by chaud View original post
Comments 248 Comments
  1. Queen of Hamsters's Avatar
    Color me shocked, no impending doom spelled out for WoW (or SL in particular) despite 3rd party website's OH SO RELIABLE reporting about the game supposedly losing all of its players to FFX-fucking-IV...


    BUT, this quarterly is not, imo, a reliable source for seeing the fallout of the controversy on the companies. That'll come next quarterly. But, if going by the Hong Kong controversy, I'd doubt it'll have much of an impact on the financials.
  1. darklogrus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Tonkaden View Post
    2-3 streamers are responsible for the numbers you see for FFXIV on twitch. Outside of Asmon and Summit, FFXIV is well below WoW in viewership.

    Please don't use twitch as a measuring stick for success.
    They are also why Wow was in the top 3 and not at the end of the 2nd/third row..

    Quote Originally Posted by Wries View Post
    but but according to streamers and youtube personalities, everybody hates the game and they are losing subs despite the pandemic. Waaah reality doesn't align with their narrativeee
    I mean maybe I missed it, but wheres the Retail info at ? All Im seeing is yet another Classic carrying Retail Wow.
  1. exochaft's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Xjev View Post
    Its not about having a good heart, or caring, its about money.

    Yeah, ESG is something that has been creeping into the corporate system on a global level for a while now... but the average person has probably not heard a word of it unless you really follow business and investing news, as this sort of topic is not something that will make the night news or 24/7 mainstream new networks. As you stated, it's all about the money for the companies as how they score can have adverse effects outside of what would be considered normal market forces, especially if governments and interest groups get involved in the scoring and evaluations (which they already do in some cases). Many companies have quietly started to adjust themselves to look good by these metrics, and I'm certain ActiBlizz is no exception.

    For the layman, you can think of ESG as a social credit score system that you hear about from China, but this applies to companies and corporations instead of individuals. I think it's fairly obvious how such a scoring system can have the huuuuge potential to be abused, but that's another topic.
  1. minkage's Avatar
    Honestly the demand letter is over the top.

    These people need a reality check.
  1. Thelxi's Avatar
    Interesting. Nice try Blizzard with WilmerHale.
  1. alturic's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by agentsi View Post
    lol Sorry

    you as an employee, do not dictate terms to a company. The only time you have that kind of leverage is if they value you enough to follow through. And I can tell you right now, you aren't going to be around there for as long as you think.
    And large companies realize this. They know damn well the environment, especially now, that the world is in. Sure, you may get a few - out of the hundreds that *say* they will die on the hill, actually willing to die on the hill but otherwise there won't be any mass resignations or anything of the sort.

    People will stand behind causes until it directly affects their livelihoods/jobs, at which point only the few are willing to go the distance.
  1. prwraith's Avatar
    MAU is such a funny way to gauge things.

    The only number that matters to anyone is net revenue. Be even better if it got broken down by game.
  1. The-Shan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by darklogrus View Post
    They are also why Wow was in the top 3 and not at the end of the 2nd/third row..



    I mean maybe I missed it, but wheres the Retail info at ? All Im seeing is yet another Classic carrying Retail Wow.
    uhh dude they lost another million MAUs lol its also based on June 30th, not now.
  1. Darknessvamp's Avatar
    I do like how this went from advocating for employee rights and anti-harassment because of an alleged 'frat' culture internal to the company to the formation of an external closed communication group that invites employees from ABK to join and talk negatively about the management and other employees who have yet to join while pressuring them in an attempted power play for control in how decisions in hiring and management are made. Not like that can be abused in anyway.

    This surely has evolved into a healthy movement where people totally are not taking advantage of the situation instead of seriously wanting to deal with their current toxic company environment. /s
    Especially when there's been no distinction made between who has and hasn't taken part in the alleged bad behaviour at the company and is still there and who among them may be involved in leading and organising this group as well.

    End to forced arbitration I can get, pay transparency can already be partially achieved if you encourage your current group members to publicly share their salaries with each other and put emphasis to other employees doing the same to try and coax the company relenting somewhat. However demanding diversity and checklist quotas as part of the hiring practice and creating job positions for a functionally useless taskforce that outsources the work to a third party (which they technically already did but this group takes issue with who they are and that they didn't get to choose) isn't addressing or fixing their supposed issues.

    I mean I've seen people meme that Activision hiring WilmerHale is basically "We investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong. What third party?" but I can't see how different that is from a task force formed of employees from this group stating "We investigated ourselves and found we did everything wrong. What third party?".
  1. ryanmahaffe's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Hamsters View Post
    Color me shocked, no impending doom spelled out for WoW (or SL in particular) despite 3rd party website's OH SO RELIABLE reporting about the game supposedly losing all of its players to FFX-fucking-IV...


    BUT, this quarterly is not, imo, a reliable source for seeing the fallout of the controversy on the companies. That'll come next quarterly. But, if going by the Hong Kong controversy, I'd doubt it'll have much of an impact on the financials.
    The biggest surge of FFXIV players came in July when Asmon started playing it. This quarterly is based on TBC/9.1, Q3 will be way more interesting.
  1. exochaft's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by darklogrus View Post
    I mean maybe I missed it, but wheres the Retail info at ? All Im seeing is yet another Classic carrying Retail Wow.
    If you look at the timings of the release, this quarter's reporting would include TBCC and 9.1 launch. I don't think it was an accident that they were released within this time frame, as both events would expect a bump in MAU's. If you're wanting stratified data? Good luck with that, I doubt they would ever willingly release that data as they would gain nothing from releasing said data. Another metric that you won't see is how stable the MAU numbers are through the quarter, as it would account for peaks and troughs in activity that is much more useful than min/max only data. The TL;DR is that one can read between the lines to some degree, as you know that good news will always be brought up, and bad news will be sugar-coated or downplayed... so make your judgements from that.

    Next quarter will be one to watch, as they won't have the TBCC launch and probably not a major patch for WoW (don't think anything else is on the slate at this point in time, either). Furthermore, you'll have the ActiBlizz lawsuit effects start showing in their numbers, if they have a tangible effect. I really hope that they don't use the lawsuit as an excuse for WoW's shortcomings, as there's heavy implication that there were many issues beyond the topic of the lawsuit causing issues in the development department.
  1. Roanda's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivarr View Post
    They thought we didn't, but we did.
    ActiBlizzard made less 222 million dollars than last years same quarter...but had more net bookings..."yay" i guess.
    But you got bamboozled
  1. Nurasu's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darknessvamp View Post
    I mean I've seen people meme that Activision hiring WilmerHale is basically "We investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong. What third party?" but I can't see how different that is from a task force formed of employees from this group stating "We investigated ourselves and found we did everything wrong. What third party?".
    To me, there's a clear distinction between hiring a company that wants continued repeat business and who the executives have a relationship with, and hiring one whose sole purpose is fact finding. In either case, the company is the one paying the third party and would naturally have more contact and control over the scope, but in only one case, the results are almost required to be positive for the company.

    Keep in mind the task force is to choose the third party, not to carry out the investigation.
  1. Gaidax's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Hamsters View Post
    Color me shocked, no impending doom spelled out for WoW (or SL in particular) despite 3rd party website's OH SO RELIABLE reporting about the game supposedly losing all of its players to FFX-fucking-IV...


    BUT, this quarterly is not, imo, a reliable source for seeing the fallout of the controversy on the companies. That'll come next quarterly. But, if going by the Hong Kong controversy, I'd doubt it'll have much of an impact on the financials.
    I think impact of a huge ass popular streamer like Asmongold trying out and hyping up FF14 is not to be underestimated.

    I think he alone would negatively impact the numbers and bottom lines more than the lawsuit will and I'm not even kidding here.

    I, personally am "team WoW" if there is such a thing, I hope and believe WoW can weather this shitstorm and it is far far from "dead".

    But lets be real, Asmongold promoting FF14 is nothing short of an earthquake and a major ass call to action for Blizzard. Yes, we can meme about Asmongold all we like, but his clout over a good chunk of existing, past and potential WoW players is not to be understated.

    Blizzard execs and managers need to seriously sit down and think through what they are about to put out in 10.0 next year, because that one will be all hands on deck thing that needs to be a hit.

    ---

    And yes, next quarter report will be terrible, even Blizz put a warning about it. It's like absolute double whammy of both lawsuit and the above event.

    The good news of course is that ActiBlizz coffers are REALLY deep. So they will absolutely do everything they can to salvage this and prop up WoW - it is still a major asset, even if it's not generating Call of Duty mountain of money.

    Despite the perverse, conspiratorial thinking running rampant in these forums - ActiBlizz most certainly don't want WoW to die and are keenly aware that to get more $$ they need to make sure WoW is in the end a kickass game. It's just that something in Blizzard is broken and needs fixing on that front, even besides lawsuit. The microtransaction tricks and promotions can only do so much.
  1. Darknessvamp's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nurasu View Post
    To me, there's a clear distinction between hiring a company that wants continued repeat business and who the executives have a relationship with, and hiring one whose sole purpose is fact finding. In either case, the company is the one paying the third party and would naturally have more contact and control over the scope, but in only one case, the results are almost required to be positive for the company.

    Keep in mind the task force is to choose the third party, not to carry out the investigation.
    I'm aware WilmerHale would likely work with the intent of staying in good graces with Activisions with the desire to publish their findings as close to "nothing to see here" or "no problems found after being addressed" but I'm not sure the second case's intent with the task force choice would solely be fact finding. I mean the fact they haven't suggested a number of or even a possible specific third party to champion and take care of the investigation puts into question the intent and the fact they want a task force to decide on and for it to report their findings to instead of it coming as a largely agreed consensus among the employees makes it further suspect.
  1. Gaidax's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darknessvamp View Post
    I'm aware WilmerHale would likely work with the intent of staying in good graces with Activisions with the desire to publish their findings as close to "nothing to see here" or "no problems found after being addressed" but I'm not sure the second case's intent with the task force choice would solely be fact finding. I mean the fact they haven't suggested a number of or even a possible specific third party to champion and take care of the investigation puts into question the intent and the fact they want a task force to decide on and for it to report their findings to instead of it coming as a largely agreed consensus among the employees makes it further suspect.
    In my opinion, that's just a bunch of baloney, because the absolutely last thing Bobby Kotick and new Blizzard co-presidents will want is to have this dark cloud of suspicion be above their heads for another decade.

    You can bet they will do everything they can to root out every trace of this corruption. If Bobby Kotick will have to fucking fire every last Blizzard exec to do so, he will do it and not because he's such a huge defender of equality and justice, but because this whole shit will cost ActiBlizz a SHITTON of money far beyond what just about any potentially tilted manager is worth.
  1. uuuhname's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie of Medivh View Post
    ....

    Ya know, there's a lot to be said about the above statement, but I don't believe in talking to brick walls.
    guy was on one about how he doesn't like the "drama" at blizzard interfering with games being made. nothing of value can come from talking to them.
  1. Saltysquidoon's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by agentsi View Post
    lol Sorry

    you as an employee, do not dictate terms to a company. The only time you have that kind of leverage is if they value you enough to follow through. And I can tell you right now, you aren't going to be around there for as long as you think.
    If only the employees at blizzard has some sort of collective rights group, a union of workers if you will. That would insist the company come to the table and argue on a vaguely equal footing instead of promoting a culture of individual negotiation.
  1. Darknessvamp's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Gaidax View Post
    In my opinion, that's just a bunch of baloney, because the absolutely last thing Bobby Kotick and new Blizzard co-presidents will want is to have this dark cloud of suspicion be above their heads for another decade.

    You can bet they will do everything they can to root out every trace of this corruption. If Bobby Kotick will have to fucking fire every last Blizzard exec to do so, he will do it and not because he's such a huge defender of equality and justice, but because this whole shit will cost ActiBlizz a SHITTON of money far beyond what just about any potentially tilted manager is worth.
    To be fair I'd imagine Activision would pick and choose what IPs they want to keep before selling the Blizzard brand and staff to a Chinese company instead of putting in the effort to do that.
  1. rogoth's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Hamsters View Post
    Color me shocked, no impending doom spelled out for WoW (or SL in particular) despite 3rd party website's OH SO RELIABLE reporting about the game supposedly losing all of its players to FFX-fucking-IV...


    BUT, this quarterly is not, imo, a reliable source for seeing the fallout of the controversy on the companies. That'll come next quarterly. But, if going by the Hong Kong controversy, I'd doubt it'll have much of an impact on the financials.
    i don't know if your acting dense to get a response, or if you're genuinely this stupid to think what you're saying is anyway true, because this entire earnings call statement would never have been affected by the recent scandal, furthermore while your take about hong kong is completely moronic, it was never going to be a successful 'moral stand' because of how apathetic the US populace is to not having FREEDOM!!!! MURICA!!!! YEAHH!!!!!! (insert other stereotypically true statements about the bubble that is the NA public), because this current scandal happened on 'home soil' and is a lot more relatable to many it will garner significantly more support and backlash than any of the previous protests around scandals in the past.

    as an aside: you clearly don't care to read the game lead blog post from FF14 describing the sheer influx of new players being so high that the servers in ALL regions have reached the limit caps of what they can safely hold and are causing a huge backlog of players stuck in queues which is the first time it has been seen outside of a major expansion launch window, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that this is predominantly coming from those who have left WoW and if the numbers are accurate, it suggests that there's more people leaving the game now than all other 'events' in the past put together.

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