Activision Blizzard Q4 2020 Investor Call
The Activision Blizzard earnings call was this afternoon. We've highlighted some of the written results below.

Activision Blizzard
  • In the fourth quarter, Activision had 128 million MAUs, up from 111M in Q3 and 125M in Q2.
  • Activision Blizzard had roughly 400 MAUs in 2020.
  • Blizzard had 29 million MAUs in the fourth quarter, down from 30 million in Q3, and 32 million in Q1/Q2.

Blizzard
  • World of Warcraft MAUs grew year-over-year for the sixth consecutive quarter.
  • World of Warcraft saw strong engagement across both the Classic and modern game modes throughout 2020
  • World of Warcraft full year franchise net bookings grew 40% year-over-year, reaching the highest level in nearly a decade.
  • Fourth quarter net bookings for World of Warcraft grew sharply year-over-year, driven by strong sales of the Shadowlands expansion, subscriber growth, and high participation in value added services
  • World of Warcraft player and engagement trends since the Shadowlands release are stronger than levels typically seen at this point after an expansion launch.
  • The team intends to deliver more frequent premium World of Warcraft content to sustain and expand the Warcraft community.
  • Multiple initiatives underway to experience WoW on a more consistent basis and on more platforms than ever before.
  • The team has made multiple mobile free to play Warcraft experiences and they are now in advanced development, based on the franchise IP. This will create opportunities for existing players and new fans to experience the Warcraft universe in entirely new ways.

Diablo
  • On mobile, the first stage of regional testing for Diablo Immortal in December and January was met with very positive feedback and strong engagement metrics.
  • Multiple Warcraft teams working on new content initiatives across platforms.
  • More players will get to experience Diablo Immortal in further rounds of testing ahead of the launch planned for later this year

Blizzard
  • 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard. Expect another step change in financial performance as they execute their pipeline.
  • Blizzard Q4 revenue was down a bit year over year, as growth for WoW was offset by a decline for other titles and the absence of BlizzCon.
  • Blizzard 2020 revenue was up 11% year over year, operating income up 49%, 9pp increase in margin.
  • Social games and WoW kept much stronger engagement even after lockdowns ended.
  • WoW momentum is unusually high for a non-expansion year.
  • A few things up their sleeve with remastered content that will be unveiled in due course.
  • Blizzard plans to hire more developers going forward. They'll bring talent from one game to another internally.
  • Blizzard wants to bring games to players across the world across different platforms and genres.


This article was originally published in forum thread: Activision Blizzard Q4 2020 Investor Call started by chaud View original post
Comments 265 Comments
  1. DarkAmbient's Avatar
    Without hard numbers from subscriptions and/or concurrent players these investor calls are virtually worthless for determining the size of the playerbase.
  1. mbit's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Daemos daemonium View Post
    Got a link to the methodology or any further info then just this graph?
    https://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comment..._google_trend/
  1. Kolvarg's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Daemos daemonium View Post
    This is a delay of years we’re talking about and unless you want to argue that the people googling were seeing the future and losing interest you would expect said delay to carry on through wrath as the actual numbers were going up only dropping after a grace period where players started to leave, the chart doesn’t reflect that in any way.

    Said delay would also effect subs from launch-peak where we can see multiple dips in google trends yet not a single dip in sub count.
    Not necessarily. The fact that there is a delay does not mean that delay will always exist, or will always be the same. You're comparing very different stages of WoW's life cycle.

    If you see it as a direct correlation between google interest and total sub numbers, sure. But that's not what this is, it's certainly not what I'm defending. If the correlation is primarily between google interest and new/returning subscribers, then the story is different.

    As I've said before, the total number of subscribers is the result of continuous subscriptions + new/returning subscriptions - cancelled subscriptions.

    What this means is that if you have point A with 10M subs and point B with 12M subs - it's not really realistic to say "between A and B, 2M new people subscribed". We only know the totals for the data points they released, we don't know how many people were subscribing and how many canceling. It's possible, even if unlikely, that 0 people unsubscribed and 2M subscribed. It's also possible that, for instance, 2.5M subscribed, and 0.5M unsubscribed. The only thing we know for sure is that between those points there was a higher total number of new subscribers than of cancellations.

    Thinking of it abstractly - it's entirely normal to expect the income of subscribers to be highest when and soon after the game is released, and slowly lower over time. The more people try the game, the smaller the pool of potential new people to try the game is. Concurrently, it's also normal to expect the outgoing of subscribers (relative to the income) to increase over time, as the novelty wears off, people get tired of the game, other games are released, other genres become more fashionable, etc (too many reasons).


    Why is this relevant? If the trends line correlates more to number of incoming subscribers, rather than the number of ongoing subscribers, it makes sense that there was a big delay that doesn't exist anymore now that the game has matured and the playerbase settled a lot more.


    And again, that's not even taking in consideration the staggered releases of expansions and patches in Eastern regions through WoW's growth period which certainly helped in maintaining a much cleaner and less peak-y look than it is able to show in its maturity.
  1. Daemos daemonium's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kolvar View Post
    Why is this relevant? If the trends line correlates more to number of incoming subscribers, rather than the number of ongoing subscribers, it makes sense that there was a big delay that doesn't exist anymore now that the game has matured and the playerbase settled a lot more.
    It would make sense for it to work this way but said delay would still be there in wrath.

    For example we know from an old interview that 75% or so of new players never made it past lvl 10 in wrath. Even if half of those were subs instead of trial accounts you would still see an uptick in search’s even if it didn’t translate to subs but instead the search’s went down.
  1. bloodykiller86's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Thetruth1400 View Post
    Blizzard literally goes out of their way to describe Classic and Retail as two different things for a reason and it isn't "because so many people play them both" as you say.

    Likewise, Shadowlands has lots of gripes, just because you choose to fanboy ignore them doesn't mean they're not there and rather significant. Balance, Covenants feeling forced for some specs, lack of gear from M+, anima being extremely slow to gain especially outside of WQs; those are all valid complaints that exist right now and haven't had much in the way of communication from Blizzard on.
    Balance is an ever going issue, impossible to ever balance a game but theyre taking good steps, you will always have a min max meta and it is your choice to choose, lack of gear was already discussed and they'll probably be adding a TR or badge system in 9.1, anima is useless anyways but they'll probably increase that as well for cosmetic shit
  1. Daemos daemonium's Avatar
    Mabye it’s because I don’t use Reddit so have no idea how to see if there’s further info but the methodology used to make this chart seems rather flawed unless there is a greater break down.

    I took all the available data points from the quarterly reports and did a correlation search. A few keywords came up highly correlated (~.96), such as "play wow", "shadow priest", "wow guide", etc. It's very interesting to see that even the smallest local peaks (e.g. patch releases) are highly correlated across those keywords.

    I then trained a regression SVM using all the keyword trends. The reported error is over a 5-fold cross validation.
    Unless keywords were adjusted with each expan and it’s added content you would get results that would be way out of whack.

    But there really isn’t enough info to say rather the methodology was flawed or not.
  1. Sluvs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by SirBeef View Post
    It's a pretty simple explanation in 3 parts. 1, there is nothing else to do in Classic but raid. By contrast you have M+, LFR, PvP, and raiding in Retail.

    2, less than 3% of the WoW population at the time set foot into Naxx 40. So there is a draw there to see it in it's original form, not the ez mode WotLK version.

    3, classic Naxx requires 40 players, Retail raiding needs a minimum of 10.
    but still, the difference is in the millions, it is super weird

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavox View Post
    Imagine believing Kotick's data manipulation and lies. Acti-Blizz is stronger than ever, pinky swear fellow kids!
    Imagine believing Activision Blizzard is doing badly.

    Lol
  1. SirBeef's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sluvs View Post
    but still, the difference is in the millions, it is super weird

    - - - Updated - - -



    Imagine believing Activision Blizzard is doing badly.

    Lol
    There is o accounting for heroic or normal, or even LFR. 4 difficulties of raiding plus M+ that draws away from it, let's get numbers from LFR and the other difficulties.

    Nit sure how those parses work but how many are using multiple characters per run as well? But regardless, that just shows the only difficulty of a raid no one saw in its original iteration against the last accessible raid difficulty.
  1. dope_danny's Avatar
    "We are going to report MAU for the whole company instead of WoW sub numbers so it looks better!"

    "But what happens if you dont support anything but WoW and the rest all decline?"

    "......No negativity in the dojo"
  1. MMOTherapist's Avatar
    What i dont understand is how Blizzard made more money from Oct-Dec of 2019 compared to Oct-Dec of 2020

    In Oct-Dec of 2019 they made 100 MILLION dollars more than this year

    How the hell is that possible? The only thing that happened there was Blizzcon? Is Blizzcon 100 M dollars more profitable? (>_<)

    BUT

    Even though Oct-Dec was more profitable in 2019....2020 they made a shit ton more money in total.
    229 Million more dollars than last year in total

    - - - Updated - - -

    edit: UPS i forgot Classic WoW. That explains the 100 million more dollars in 2019
  1. Truhan's Avatar
    On mobile, the first stage of regional testing for Diablo Immortal in December and January was met with very positive feedback and strong engagement metrics.
    I hope people weren't fooled by this. "Engagement" just means people either hated or loved something. It's just like how youtube's algorithm rewards videos with massive dislikes by recommending them more.

    A few things up their sleeve with remastered content that will be unveiled in due course.
    What the hell is this? How about you finish Warcraft 3 first? You know, the damn game that came out over a year ago, and still doesn't have ranked ladder, something the unforged version had. Shit, WC3R hasn't even been patched since OCTOBER and they haven't made a news post since AUGUST. Starcraft 2 has gotten patched more recently, and they openly admitted that game is done and is just in maintenance mode.

    What the hell can they remaster anyways? Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 1 already got the treatment, Warcraft 1 and 2 and Diablo 1 all got put on GOG, so I have to imagine those are out of the question. They keep squashing rumors of Diablo 2 being remastered and the source code is supposedly lost anyways (and, honestly, I'd rather have a remake on 4's new engine instead of a remaster, there are enough mods and private ladders for D2 already that do a better job "remastering" than Blizzard would do). Overwatch has come out somewhat recently and Overwatch 2 is gonna be better than 1 in every imaginable way. And HotS is dead (competitively at least). That would pretty much just leave remastering Burning Crusade (possible), Starcraft 2 (impossible, since they just announced it's going into maintenance mode and they seem very hostile to the RTS genre in general right now), or Lost Vikings/Rock n Roll Racing (dear god yes please).

    Oh, and apparently, they disbanded the Classic Games team (not WoW Classic mind), so who would even make a remaster? And it would have to be started from scratch at this point.
  1. kranur's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by SirBeef View Post
    It's a pretty simple explanation in 3 parts. 1, there is nothing else to do in Classic but raid. By contrast you have M+, LFR, PvP, and raiding in Retail.

    2, less than 3% of the WoW population at the time set foot into Naxx 40. So there is a draw there to see it in it's original form, not the ez mode WotLK version.

    3, classic Naxx requires 40 players, Retail raiding needs a minimum of 10.
    You have pvp in classic too though. And lfr is just a dumb version of raiding.
  1. cparle87's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Segus1992 View Post
    You have no business claiming you know anything about the topic if you weren't already aware of that graph.

    What are you "right" about anyway? That Cata technically had a slightly higher sub point than Wrath at one point?

    - - - Updated - - -



    Shift goal posts? Man you're defensive, I haven't been talking to you at all.
    If the argument is, which it was, which expansion had the highest ever sub count, then that is factually Cataclysm. And yes, you've been goalpost moving.
  1. Akutare's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by cparle87 View Post
    If the argument is, which it was, which expansion had the highest ever sub count, then that is factually Cataclysm. And yes, you've been goalpost moving.
    But what's more important to take away is that growth was steady up until WotLK. WotLK kept it's good will pretty consistently through the expac. Cataclysm may have gotten a good boost at the start from that good will, but it quickly burnt through it and began the time of decline. People gave Cata a chance because they appreciated WotLK, not so much on its own merit, as healers were very stressed out at the start from the changes that were made and that trickled into impacting dps and tanks because of lack of healers.

    BFA likely got a boost in interest at the start because people overall enjoyed Legion, but people didn't like BFA. Also in the decline era people generally would show up in high numbers at the start to give it a chance again, and then dip out in short order. Whatever lightning in a bottle WotLK had that kept it so stable was not something easily replicated.
  1. SirBeef's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kranur View Post
    You have pvp in classic too though. And lfr is just a dumb version of raiding.
    Doesn't matter. The pathway to gear in LFR and PvP is much better in Retail and has definately pulled people away from organized raiding. If you cannot see that you are wilfully ignorant. The mere fact that DS LFR saw nearly 59% of the playerbase participate from 15% before LFR should tell you all you need to know about why there is a discrepancy innthe numbers.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Akutare View Post
    But what's more important to take away is that growth was steady up until WotLK. WotLK kept it's good will pretty consistently through the expac. Cataclysm may have gotten a good boost at the start from that good will, but it quickly burnt through it and began the time of decline. People gave Cata a chance because they appreciated WotLK, not so much on its own merit, as healers were very stressed out at the start from the changes that were made and that trickled into impacting dps and tanks because of lack of healers.

    BFA likely got a boost in interest at the start because people overall enjoyed Legion, but people didn't like BFA. Also in the decline era people generally would show up in high numbers at the start to give it a chance again, and then dip out in short order. Whatever lightning in a bottle WotLK had that kept it so stable was not something easily replicated.
    WotLK had practically no growth. WoW gre from 2004-2008 then peaked. All those number say is the amount of people leaving were equal to the amount of people joining. Vanilla and TBC were fra better at bringing people in. Wrath was basically a nothingburger in regards to subs and growth.
  1. HitRefresh's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Truhan View Post
    I hope people weren't fooled by this. "Engagement" just means people either hated or loved something. It's just like how youtube's algorithm rewards videos with massive dislikes by recommending them more.



    What the hell is this? How about you finish Warcraft 3 first? You know, the damn game that came out over a year ago, and still doesn't have ranked ladder, something the unforged version had. Shit, WC3R hasn't even been patched since OCTOBER and they haven't made a news post since AUGUST. Starcraft 2 has gotten patched more recently, and they openly admitted that game is done and is just in maintenance mode.

    What the hell can they remaster anyways? Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 1 already got the treatment, Warcraft 1 and 2 and Diablo 1 all got put on GOG, so I have to imagine those are out of the question. They keep squashing rumors of Diablo 2 being remastered and the source code is supposedly lost anyways (and, honestly, I'd rather have a remake on 4's new engine instead of a remaster, there are enough mods and private ladders for D2 already that do a better job "remastering" than Blizzard would do). Overwatch has come out somewhat recently and Overwatch 2 is gonna be better than 1 in every imaginable way. And HotS is dead (competitively at least). That would pretty much just leave remastering Burning Crusade (possible), Starcraft 2 (impossible, since they just announced it's going into maintenance mode and they seem very hostile to the RTS genre in general right now), or Lost Vikings/Rock n Roll Racing (dear god yes please).

    Oh, and apparently, they disbanded the Classic Games team (not WoW Classic mind), so who would even make a remaster? And it would have to be started from scratch at this point.
    It's referring to Diablo 2 remake made by Vicarious Visions, who did the remakes of Crash Bandicoot and THPS recently. VV was recently merged with Blizzard. So they don't need their classic team to make it, and it will probably be better than Blizzard's attempts, given their track record with remakes so far.
  1. cparle87's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Akutare View Post
    But what's more important to take away is that growth was steady up until WotLK. WotLK kept it's good will pretty consistently through the expac. Cataclysm may have gotten a good boost at the start from that good will, but it quickly burnt through it and began the time of decline. People gave Cata a chance because they appreciated WotLK, not so much on its own merit, as healers were very stressed out at the start from the changes that were made and that trickled into impacting dps and tanks because of lack of healers.

    BFA likely got a boost in interest at the start because people overall enjoyed Legion, but people didn't like BFA. Also in the decline era people generally would show up in high numbers at the start to give it a chance again, and then dip out in short order. Whatever lightning in a bottle WotLK had that kept it so stable was not something easily replicated.
    But that wasn't the argument being made. The argument was "which expansion had the highest ever subs", and that was Cata. Early Cata hit the peak, exceeding all of Wrath, therefore Cata is the answer.
  1. Pann's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by cparle87 View Post
    But that wasn't the argument being made. The argument was "which expansion had the highest ever subs", and that was Cata. Early Cata hit the peak, exceeding all of Wrath, therefore Cata is the answer.
    China - which accounted for around half the sub numbers - was still playing Wrath at the time of the announcement of 12 million subs.
  1. FelPlague's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Skandulous View Post
    Except Warcraft logs says otherwise..... More people have parsed and raided in Classic wow then Retail Castle Narthia and it isnt even close


    https://classic.warcraftlogs.com/zon...#timespan=1000


    https://www.warcraftlogs.com/zone/st...#timespan=1000

    this is just naxx btw and it destroys CN in the amount of parses

    classic 10 million parses vs retail not even 1 million lmao
    Shall we take an actual look?

    1. nax has been out longer then castle nathria
    2. you hilariously only compared ALL NAXRAMMAS KILLS to only the hardest difficulty of the current raid, which has many less bosses, which means naturally there will be less. there is 15 bosses in nax, so we gotta lower the number by 33% cause if you full a clear castle nathria it counts for 10 parses. if you full clear naxramas it counts for 15. However, instead of cutting that, i will simply let it pass, because there of course will be overlap between people doing normal and heroic, and heroic and mythic so.

    here we go!

    So i did about a 10th by hand till i remembered, i know how to use google sheets!

    Here is the info.
    Except there is a bit of an issue...
    LFR is not included.
    Also because of the smaller raid sizes, it is more likely for a classic raid to combat log then retail so we lose amounts there that we dont even know. Also the whole "nax released a week earlier, and mythic 2 weeks later"

    but hey, there is a LOT more then 1 million parses in retail... althoguh they are still a fair bit apart, there is of course many things like LFR and ya know... retail having more content to do then just raiding, while classic's only endgame is raiding. (Also well... Multiboxxing is extremely more prevalent in classic, back when i played hardcore our raid lead raided with 3 hunters.)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Pann View Post
    China - which accounted for around half the sub numbers - was still playing Wrath at the time of the announcement of 12 million subs.
    Not true. it accounted for 3.2 million players, equal to US/Canada.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by kranur View Post
    You have pvp in classic too though. And lfr is just a dumb version of raiding.
    1. except its rewards are horrid now and few people really care
    2. its still raiding, if you are going to use raiding metrics as an example of the population, you still gotta count for LFR.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavox View Post
    Imagine believing Kotick's data manipulation and lies. Acti-Blizz is stronger than ever, pinky swear fellow kids!
    Imagine thinking a company would risk a fucking audit and a multi billion dollar offence just to say "yeah we doing good!"

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavox View Post
    Imagine believing Kotick's data manipulation and lies. Acti-Blizz is stronger than ever, pinky swear fellow kids!
    Imagine thinking a company would risk a fucking audit and a multi billion dollar offence just to say "yeah we doing good!"

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolvarg View Post
    There isn't causation, but it's foolish to say there isn't a correlation between the two, looking at how they compare when they did use to announce subscriber numbers:
    This is why google trend data is literally useless.


    1. as time passes more and more things get searched, i can literally go right now and say "Lol only 1 person per month since cata came out actually cares about wotlk, worst fucking expac ever!"



    cause guess what, google trends is bullshit, it rarely works because of how it gathers its data, and simply changing how you search the same thing comes up with wildly different things, for example


    2. search system



    Literally the exact same spelling, the EXACT same but using different search styles comes up with DRASTICALLY different info.


    This is why you dont use google trends to try and prove literally anything, it reminds me of when asmongold compared
    "Wow: Classic" search term with "BFA" and laughed at how it was like 10 times larger... cause he used the specific writing BFA compared to ALL SEARCH TERMS with "Wow: Classic" in it.

    Even look to the "Note" above the graph.


    Dont use google trends unless you know how to properly use them, you can just search two words and compare them and then suddenly get a graph that shows how popular one is to the other.
  1. Pann's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by FelPlague View Post
    Not true. it accounted for 3.2 million players, equal to US/Canada.
    Any evidence for this claim? Although I am not sure how you arrived at this number as WoW China was comfortably above this when they stopped providing regional breakdowns.

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