'Call of Duty: Warzone' Helps Boost Activision Blizzard Revenues

The free-to-play shooter launched March 10 and has amassed over 60 million players to date.

Activision Blizzard exceeded its outlook for Q1 2020 as the company posted $1.8 billion in GAAP net revenue in Tuesday's official filing. The figure comes in above the $1.6 billion expectation stated in last quarter's filing in February.

First-quarter 2020's GAAP net revenue was in line, though a bit down, with Q1 2019's numbers. 

Like other video game companies (and other industries), Activision Blizzard switched to a work-from-home model in mid-March amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The company says it is "covering all costs of testing and treatment for affected employees and their families." Despite the added hurdles the lockdowns have presented, Activision Blizzard says it has "substantial flexibility" to navigate the current situation.

Over the past quarter, Activision launched Call of Duty: Warzone, a free-to-play mode for last year's best-selling title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, from developer Infinity Ward. The new shooter debuted March 10, a few weeks before Q1's end on March 31, and has amassed more than 60 million players to date. 

The game has also sold more units and has more players than "any prior Call of Duty title at this point after its release." As a result, net bookings for the base game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (which users are not required to own in order to play Warzone), more than doubled year-over-year when compared to 2018's Call of Duty release, Black Ops 4.

On the mobile gaming front, King hit more than 273 million monthly active users across its slate of titles in Q1. Amid lockdown, usage went up markedly in March as the Candy Crush franchise reported double-digit growth over the month. The series is the top-grossing mobile offering in U.S. app stores.

Looking ahead, the company expects net revenues of $1.7 billion in Q2.