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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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. Uurdz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by glowpipe View Post
    This is my counterclaim to his moronic delusions.
    Wow classic, as of writing this.
    Full pop servers: Eu = 0. Na = 0
    High pop servers: Eu = 5. Na = 6
    Normal pop servers: Eu = 31. Na = 28
    Low pop servers: Eu = 7. Na = 7

    Wow shadowlands
    Full pop servers: Eu = 20. Na = 34
    High pop servers: Eu = 45. Na = 68
    Medium and low, Stopped counting after 100 for both EU and NA. Individualy

    This is a fairly sensible data point to look at. While we don't know if Retail Server size is calculated in the same way a Classic Server is - I think assuming they are equal is not a terrible idea.

    You could also check out for data on classic players seen in Wowlogs. While this doesnt cover the total population, it should likely capture the vast majority of players given raiding is the main source of gameplay currently.

    I would note that the comparison is end of a game cycle (last raid Classic) v. Start of a game cycle (first raid Retail) so to take it with a grain of salt from a comparative basis.

    Lastly - Wow Classic is absolutely not carrying WoW as a whole. It certainly would have injected a significant number of MAUs (i'd guess between 20-30%) as well as keeping active levels higher during the lul in content. Ultimately the proof is that Shadowlands hasn't drastically shifted towards being Classic like. There have been some small changes, removal of warforging & reducing the abundance of drops, but ultimately Retail is (and in my view) will always be the breadwinner.

    However, Classic performance has certainly countered the fairly consistent (at least on MMO) viewpoint that it was a waste of resources or it didn't have a place.
  1. Gorsameth's Avatar
    Didn't Blizzard say that Classic servers were bigger then Vanilla but smaller then Retail?
  1. Kralljin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Uurdz View Post
    This is a fairly sensible data point to look at. While we don't know if Retail Server size is calculated in the same way a Classic Server is - I think assuming they are equal is not a terrible idea.
    Serverpopulation is a terrible metric for the sole reason that we have no access to chinese servers, where we in fact know that the relation between the number of Retail players and Classic players is different.
    Quote Originally Posted by Uurdz View Post
    Ultimately the proof is that Shadowlands hasn't drastically shifted towards being Classic like.
    Considering that SL development was well under its way before Classic even launched, that left little room for the devs to make a hard turn even if they wanted.

    SL was announced in Nov 19, Classic launched ~2 months earlier, by that point the framework of the expansion was most likely already set in stone, even then one still had to wait a few more months to actually showcase that Classic has decent rentention rate and isn't just a flash in the pan.

    Crux would be that a lot of Classic elements are simply not compatible with the modern game anyway and it's a massive challenge to "win" back the players they've lost over the years due to changing philosophy while also retaining the players that prefer the modern style.

    For example, i don't think it's a secret that a lot of people that prefer Classic have no love for something like CRZ, yet i somehow doubt that's going anywhere.
  1. twothe's Avatar
    Realm status can't be used to compare classic vs. retail, because there is no phasing on Classic. So they just have to make the server big enough that it never goes to full pop, while they can easily let that happen on retail servers and then just switch on a few more phases.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolvarg View Post
    They've had a decade of trial and error, and a shitton of data collected from player habits and reactions to their design choices.
    That is one of the issues with game development: no matter how hard you try, you cannot quantify "fun." And companies that make games based on what the average player seems to want according to the data usually make shitty copys of copys of games that were once good. Player taste changes over time, especially if they are fed the same food every single day. Sometimes you need to just come up with something brand new instead of delivering the same old.
  1. mbit's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by twothe View Post
    you cannot quantify "fun."
    fun comes from novelty + learning experience improving.

    The problem is they cant create endless new content for novelty nor can they deliver the perfect learning experience for everyone because player skill has a wide gap. Its not that nobody knows the goal, its that its unreachable.

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