Video game publisher Activision Blizzard posted record numbers for its second quarter on Tuesday, with GAAP net revenue reaching $1.93 billion for the period ending June 30, as compared to $1.40 billion in the second quarter of last year.
Among its three key areas of growth — expanding audience reach, engagement and player investment — the company exceeded Wall Street expectations and its second-quarter outlook, with the Call of Duty franchise remaining a major driver.
Not only did Modern Warfare add more players outside of a launch quarter than ever before, but Warzone, the free-to-play online iteration of the game that launched in March at the start of the stay-at-home mandates, has reached over 75 million players to date. Meanwhile, Call of Duty: Mobile saw increased engagement and player investment.
“Our mission to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment has never been more meaningful,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “Our 400 million players continue to experience fun, joy and accomplishment through our games. Our record engagement resulted in greater revenue and earnings per share than previously forecast. While economic uncertainty could have an impact on our near-term results, the initiatives that drove our growth for the first half of the year should also provide the foundation for long-term growth.”
As the company has shifted to more free-to-play models and made games more affordable and accessible on multiple devices including mobile phones, the audience has continued to grow, noted a source at the company, adding that the bulk of Activision’s audience is playing on phones. For players who engage deeply in the mobile games, some then invest in additional content.
Games are also reaching more diverse players, with 50 percent of customers now female. Above all else, the source noted, Activision’s performance remains driven by the delivery and quality of content and how it resonates with audiences.
While Activision teams did shift from the office to working at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, most of the content that the company had planned for this year was delivered on time, per the source, who said it was too early to know how or if the creative process was affected by not being centralized.
Moving forward, the company will be focusing on regular, consistent delivery of material. There will be more premium Call of Duty content coming this year, as well as additional content in the Blizzard title World of Warcraft and Candy Crush from developer King, which is also bringing Crash Bandicoot to mobile later this year.