'Black Ops 4,' 'World of Warcraft' Help Activision Blizzard Beat Third-Quarter Earnings Expectations

Black Ops 4 Blackout - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Treyarch

The success of the games could not help net revenues increase year-over-year, however.

Activision Blizzard exceeded its earnings expectation for the quarter ending Sept. 30, the company revealed on Thursday, but net revenues were down from the same quarter last year.

The company posted earnings of $1.51 billion, exceeding analysts' expectations of $1.49 billion. The figure is down a bit from last year’s $1.6 billion in the same quarter.

The better-than-expected earnings were boosted by a number of major game launches during the quarter, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, the latter of which set a new day-one franchise record with more than 3.4 million units sold through. Black Ops 4, meanwhile, sold through more units than its 2015 predecessor Black Ops III, with the PC version sell-through more than three times higher than sales of the earlier game.

The Destiny 2 expansion Forsaken, which was released in early September, underperformed the company's expectations, though monthly active users for the game were up year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter.

“Activision Blizzard’s results for Q3 exceeded our prior outlook as we continue to entertain large audiences, drive deep engagement, and attract significant audience investment across our franchises,” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. “Our unique advantage continues to be our ability to create the most compelling interactive and spectator entertainment based on our own franchises, combined with our direct digital connection to hundreds of millions of customers, in over 190 countries.”

On the mobile gaming front, King — a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard — had 262 million monthly active users for the quarter. Its flagship, Candy Crush Saga, grew year-over-year. Overall, Activision Blizzard had 345 million monthly active users this quarter.

In an earnings call with investors on Thursday, Kotick addressed Black Ops 4, which bowed in October, a month earlier than most Call of Duty games traditionally are released. "We believe holiday customers will benefit from more players earlier," he said.

Kotick then hailed the success of the Call of Duty series, comparing it to other franchises. "As a franchise, Call of Duty has now generated more money than the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the box office and more than double than that of Star Wars," said the exec.