This is a partial and heavily-edited transcript of the key topics related to the Blizzard Entertainment statements shared during the Activision Blizzard Q1 2018, excluding the other non-Blizzard franchises.
This is a partial and heavily-edited transcript of the key topics related to the Blizzard Entertainment statements shared during the Activision Blizzard Q1 2018, excluding the other non-Blizzard franchises.
This is a partial transcript of topics relevant to Blizzard fans.
Kotick: This was a record quarter and record year for Activision Blizzard. We delivered record quarterly net bookings of $2.6 billion and record annual net bookings of $7.2 billion. We delivered record segment operating income of $2.4 billion and record non-GAAP EPS of $2.21 per share, above our initial February outlook of $1.70. And we also delivered record annual operating cash flow of $2.2 billion.
Each part of our business reached new milestones and demonstrated the durable and enduring nature of our franchises. Activision celebrated strong Call of Duty momentum and their best operating income year ever.
Blizzard delivered their highest operating income ever for year with no major game releases. And King returned to growth with the Candy Crush franchise stronger than ever.
This is a partial and edited transcript of the most important topics pertaining to Blizzard Entertainment video games, and Bungie’s Destiny 2.
Kotick: This was another strong quarter. We delivered record results, and exceeded our prior outlook. Our audience is among the largest of any platform; and this quarter, we achieved a new milestone for daily time spent per user of over 50 minutes, which is in line with some of the most engaging online connected platforms in the world.
We remained focused on building enduring franchises over the long term and helping to grow strong and highly engaged communities around them. When we focus on serving our communities and investing in new ways to help people connect with our franchises, and each other across many different types of content and platforms. We create opportunities for delivering growth across reach, engagement, and player investment.
A great example of this is BlizzCon. Tomorrow, the 11th celebration of the Blizzard community kicks off in Anaheim, California. This is one of the highlights of the year for the company as BlizzCon exemplifies how our games bring people together from all walks of life and all parts of the world.
Gaming through events like BlizzCon, provides players with a true sense of belonging, and a recognition that through our games we can help break down the barriers that seem to be dividing much of the world. Over the next couple of days, over 30,000 people will join us from around the globe, with millions more joining virtually including via the live stream and our virtual ticket.
The attendance and viewership are great examples of the incredible passion of the Blizzard community, whether hosting esports championships, unveiling epic cinematics, offering compelling new game play experiences, and consumer products; or simply providing a space for players to connect. BlizzCon reflects the scale, and diversity of the broader opportunities open to the company today.
We remain excited about our growth prospects, many of which are progressing quickly. The launch of the Overwatch League begins with regular Season Play on January 10th, and we believe 2018 will be the year that eSports becomes even more broad in its appeal.
This morning, we announced large Overwatch League sponsorship deals with both Hewlett-Packard, and Intel; and these are two great examples of forward-thinking initiatives by two important companies that will help us deliver a great experience for the community, and invest in the future of the League.
Our employees across Activision Blizzard, and King continue to be recognized for their commitments to excellence and execution. We were named to the Fortune 500, Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for, and Fortune’s Most Admired companies.
This quarter, we are proud to have been recognized in the Top 10 of Fortune’s first-ever Future 50 list, which recognizes the world’s most innovative, and forward-looking companies.
Marrying vision and creativity with consistent execution over the long term has always been the blueprint for our success; and we are going to keep working hard to approach our future with the same discipline. We are very grateful for the support of all our employees, our player communities, our partners, our stakeholders, and shareholders in this effort.
Johnson: 2017 continues to be a record-setting year. We surpassed last year’s high watermark for year-to-date revenues, and earnings per share. We delivered record revenues in Q3, and we outperformed our guidance by more than $200 million on revenue, and by $0.13 on non-GAAP EPS.
Given this over-performance, and the confidence we have in our plans, we are raising our outlook again for the year. Our performance is made possible by our incredible teams whose commitment to delivering creative, and commercial excellence engages our communities, and enables our company to grow.
I want to highlight, in particular, that in Q3 our teams demonstrated two important aspects of our strategy: first, the ability to serve our communities with a broad range of experiences (large and small — across full games, expansions, content drops, features and services); and second, the ability to drive meaningful results from those investments.
We saw this from Activision and Bungie with the launch of Destiny 2 (a major new game for the franchise), which is now the biggest console release for the year in the US. We also saw see this from Blizzard with Hearthstone’s Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, built upon iconic characters and lore, which became a franchise’s best-performing expansion to-date.
Destiny 2 is off to a strong start, and after the PC launch is now ahead of Destiny 1 on total consumer spend, on time spent per player, attach rate to the expansion packs, and average revenue per user.
Destiny 2 also achieved a new high watermark in digital full-game downloads at over 50% of console sell-through; and last week, we introduced Destiny to PC gamers for the first time, opening up the franchise to new global audiences, and future growth opportunities.
We were thrilled to launch on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform where we have an end-to-end connection with the consumer, and can drive enhanced player experiences, better insights, and better company economics.
Blizzard also set a Q3 record for reach with 42 million MAUs driven by a steady stream of content, features, and service updates. This is now the 4th quarter in a row that Blizzard achieved record quarterly MAUs without a full game release, hiding again the strategy of continuous year-round content, and services to engage our audiences, and bring in new players. Notably MAUs grew year-over-year for both Overwatch, and Hearthstone; and the Overwatch community now has over 35 million registered players.
As Bobby mentioned, the company set a new milestone for daily time spent per user at over 50 minutes, placing us on par with Facebook’s time per day, which is over 50 minutes across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Blizzard’s driven engagement with compelling content updates across much of their portfolio: Overwatch introduced new content for seasonal events, including Summer Games in Q3; and Halloween Terror last month, driving participation, and customization items.
World of Warcraft released a large content update leading to stable MAUs versus prior quarter, and strong participation in value-added services; and Hearthstone saw time-spent rise by double-digit percentage year-over-year on the strength of the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. Blizzard also released a number of key updates on the Battle.net platform.
As mentioned, Battle.net welcomed its first non-Blizzard game: Destiny 2 on PC, and ahead of that launch, the Battle.net team released a new mobile app, and a strong collection of social features in a desktop app — enabling players to stay connected both inside, and outside their games, and across devices. Our groundbreaking efforts in eSports, drive engagement as well by celebrating our players, and recognizing their achievements in new ways.
As Bobby mentioned, we continue to make great progress on the Overwatch League. The 12 inaugural teams have now been unveiled. Their names, logos, and fans will soon be able to celebrate their favorite team and players through both: physical and digital merchandise.
The Overwatch team is hard at work on refining the spectator viewing experience to make the game even more fun to watch, including team jerseys for in-game heroes, and new camera angles to get a better view of gameplay. Pre-season competition begins next month at the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles.
I was recently at the facility, and can say that the arena, and overall spectator experience are awesome. Over the past week, Blizzard hosted opening week competitions across a number of franchises for BlizzCon at the arena. We look forward to seeing some of you at the championship matches later this week in Anaheim.
Blizzard also had strong a quarter for player investment, not only in their live games, but also in re-imagined, and re-mastered experiences from the libraries, including Blizzard’s StarCraft: Remastered. This approach of continuing to provide content, and features for the community wherever they are playing, even years after the initial launch, opens up growth opportunities for years to come.
In summary, our record performance in the quarter, and our record performance year-to-date are the result of our team’s passionate dedication to serve the growing communities across our franchises. That dedication is now extending into new growth levers like eSports, consumer products, and advertising; and we are excited about our growth prospects ahead.
Neumann: Activision doubled revenues, and more than doubled operating income year-over-year, leading to record Q3, and record year-to-date financial performance. Blizzard’s $531 million in segment revenues, and $168 million of operating income were driven by the strength of the World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Overwatch franchises.
Performance was down year-over-year as expected, given the difficult comp to last year’s Q3, which featured both a World of Warcraft expansion, and the first full quarter following Overwatch’s release.
So now let’s turn to our Q4 outlook. In Q4, we will continue our strategy of delivering a steady stream of content, and services to our community, including updates for Blizzard’s Hearthstone, and Overwatch franchises; and execution against a robust slate of features.
As you know, Activision released Destiny 2 on PC on October 24th, and we have plans to release our first expansion, and add-on content for that franchise on December 5.
You have talked about esports as an investment in the near-term without material profits. Can you help quantify near-term milestones and other benefits that having the leagues can offer such as the marketing for Overwatch and other titles? And what are the plans for additional leagues beyond the Overwatch League?
Kotick: In fact, today, we are having our first owners meeting for the Overwatch League, and we view that as a major growth initiative, and a very sizable standalone opportunity for the company. We are building the league for the long-term, and in our view, the opportunity rivals what you see in professional sports for a lot of perspectives; but starting with the demographics to the audience.
The first season is really about building a solid foundation, delivering world-class viewing experience, distributing the content as broadly as we can to our audiences around the world, making sure that we have that strong and growing global fanbase; and really building the league revenues in the key three areas that we have outlined in the past; and today was a great announcement in that regard: in sponsorships, in the sale of broadcasting media rights, and in licensing.
We have got a really great group of owners who I just came from. We have got some of the great entrepreneurs in sports, some of the great entrepreneurs of the endemic eSports businesses; and they are all focused on driving local marketing campaigns to build out their fanbases in the markets that they serve.
I think we are off to a very good start in the sponsorship front with the announcements that we have made today; and we will continue to deliver new news, and information as we get closer to our January 10th launch date. So it will clearly benefit the franchise from a marketing perspective, but it is a great business opportunity in and on itself.
As far as other leagues… right now, we are so focused on executing Overwatch League as best as we can, that we are not really planning on announcing anything else right now. And look, I would say, that the greatest single benefit that we get from celebrating our professional players is that these are people who make an incredible investment, and commitment into our games; and we have the opportunity to really celebrate, recognize, and reward them in an exceptional way.
We think that that has the most tremendous value to our players, and to the company.
Morhaime: I just want to add: we are incredibly excited about the launch of the League on January 10th. We really view this as sort of building a foundation for this League that we don’t expect will scale overnight. Sports leagues take time to build, but with the foundation that we are building, we are really excited about what the future will hold; and we think it will benefit players, teams, fans, and have a really long-term potential for the Overwatch League.
In terms of how the League might benefit the franchise overall, we really view that as being tied. What is good for the league is good for the Overwatch game as well. So, I am incredibly excited about the inaugural Season.
Can you discuss in a little more detail recent performance, and trends you are seeing across World of Warcraft and Hearthstone; and how you are thinking about the pace of investments for these franchises going forward?
Morhaime: So we continue to be very happy with both of those. With the strength of both of those franchises; and I would tell you on the World of Warcraft side, we are investing more than ever.
The team has been hard at work delivering on our commitment to the community to deliver more content, more consistently between expansions, that has been going really well. Since Legion was launched in August of last year, we have added multiple content updates, and the updates have been really well received by the community.
We have seen engagement up versus last year, when you look at time spent per player, and also frequency of play.
On the Hearthstone side, Hearthstone’s continuing to do really well. Engagement has been really strong throughout the year driven by our successful content launches, and our innovative event specifically, with the last expansion: Knights of the Frozen Throne. As you heard, it has had a franchise record for expansion sales, and also drove strong engagement with time spent, up double-digit percentage year-over-year, and MAUs were also up year-over-year as well.
Great quarter. I’m not sure who’s more excited for the new Blizzard content, gamers or investors. But for those who have not gone to BlizzCon, is there a way for you to tease any of the upcoming announcements?
Well, first, we are going to have to get you to BlizzCon one of these days, but it is just an amazing community event; and getting to see the passion of our players, and the amazing skill of the pro-players in person is pretty incredible; but even if you are not there in person, you can still watch the opening ceremonies for free at BlizzCon.com.
That starts at 11:00am Pacific tomorrow; and also you can access all the eSports content across all of our games for free, including the championships for the Overwatch World Cup, and Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft 2, World of Warcraft Arena, eSports tournaments, as well as the Hearthstone invitational.
Also, if you would like to access all BlizzCon offers, which includes the panel channels, community contests, and other events like the Muse concert, you can also buy the virtual ticket for $39.99. So got a little plug in there; but in terms of the latest news and everything, we have a number of different announcements that we will be making at the show; but you are going to have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that. So thank you very much for the question.
The Activision Blizzard Q2 2017 financial conference call took place today Aug 3 at 4:30pm EST. If you read the transcript after the break, it seems that World of Warcraft Patch 7.3 is scheduled internally for release after GamesCom 2017. Blizzard will feature the content there (unless Coddy was referring to something else).
Activision Blizzard had 407 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)B in the quarter.
Blizzard had the biggest quarterly online player community in its history with a record 46 million MAUsB, up 38% year-over-year. The Overwatch community continued to grow more than a year after launch, setting another all-time MAUB record with the release of two seasonal events in the quarter. Hearthstone® MAUsB grew year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter to an all-time record, driven by its expansion, Journey to Un’Goro™.
Blizzard had Q2-record time spent. In April, Blizzard launched Uprising, an Overwatch seasonal event that included a player-versus-environment mode that drew record play time. Overwatch’s Anniversary event in May and June also drove strong engagement with record participation in customization items. Time spent in World of Warcraft® grew year-over-year in the second quarter, and the Legion™ expansion continued to perform ahead of the prior expansion.
Blizzard announced the first seven team sales for the Overwatch League , the first major global professional esports league with city-based teams, and the league is set to begin its inaugural competitive season later this year.
Blizzard announced a live-streaming media rights partnership for esports and in-game content across a number of franchises, but excluding Overwatch League content.
Activision Blizzard delivered nearly $1 billion of in-game revenues in the quarter with record performance in the first half of 2017.
Blizzard’s Overwatch, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and Diablo® III, which debuted new content during the quarter, drove strong in-game participation.
The event didn’t have Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime this time as a speaker, but he answered a question during the Q&A. The conference had the following speakers: Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, Collister “Coddy” Johnson, and Spencer Neumann. Read the most pertinent parts of the event in the transcript.
UPDATE: As several people have pointed out on Twitter, I shamefully forgot to mention another expansion leak via-dataming, done by our very own contributor Handclaw. The article has been updated with this information.
WoWhead has broke news about the recent patch 7.3 PTR build which could potentially be a look into the next expansion. A set of armor named after Kul Tiras has been datamined, in a situation eerily similar to three previous expansion leaks accomplished via datamining. Read on past the jump to learn more about these past leaks and what this might mean for expansion seven.
Activision Blizzard held a financial conference call yesterday (May 4) to report the latest earnings, and progress updates. There was not much info on upcoming content, but Blizzard is working on new content across all IPs.
In concurrent registered player numbers, Hearthstone peaked with 70 million players, and Overwatch with 30 million players. While no numbers will be revealed for World of Warcraft subscriptions, there was a performance compared to subscriptions during Warlords of Draenor. Revenue was increased by 50% due to the Overwatch shop (during the Lunar Festival and Uprising events), and Legion subs.
Read the transcript below (heavily edited to focus on the Blizzard Entertainment aspect of the conference call).
Activision Blizzard held its financial conference call to reveal details of its business performance during the fourth quarter of 2016. The most striking highlight of the conference happened during the Q&A when it was revealed there are works to bring Overwatch linear media to expose Overwatch to new audiences.
This harkens back to the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios earlier last year which already launched Skylanders Academy Season 1 on Netflix. It is possible that Overwatch might debut in Netflix at some point in the future.
In October 2016, Stacey Sher revealed during an interview that Activision Blizzard Studios was considering to do something similar to Skylanders Academy (Netflix) for StarCraft and Overwatch.
Seems we are going to have an interesting BlizzCon announcement this year.
Activision Blizzard had 447 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)A in the quarter.
Blizzard had its highest annual MAUsA in 2016 at 36 million, up 37% from 2015 and up 87% since 2014. Additionally, Blizzard achieved record fourth-quarter MAUsA of 41 million. Overwatch became Blizzard’s fastest game ever to reach over 25 million players globally. The title broke the previous launch year record for unit sales set by Diablo® III in 2012 and received 55 “Game of the Year” awards. World of Warcraft® MAUsA grew 10% in 2016 and over 20% year-over-year in the fourth quarter on the back of the successful third-quarter launch of the expansion, Legion™. Also, Hearthstone® had its highest annual MAUsA in 2016, growing more than 20%, in part due to the fourth-quarter expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan™.
Activision had the biggest online player community in its history in 2016, with annual MAUsA of 50 million for the year, up 3% from 2015 and up 23% since 2014. Fourth-quarter MAUsA were 51 million. Call of Duty® was the number one console franchise globally in 2016, and in North America for the 8th year in a row.1 Life-to-date on current-generation consoles, the Call of Duty franchise had 3 of the top 10 games.
On October 28, 2016 , Activision Blizzard Studios , in partnership with Netflix, debuted Skylanders™ Academy, a new TV series celebrating the beloved kids franchise. The second season will be delivered in 2017, and a third season has been ordered by Netflix.
The Activision Blizzard 2016 Q3 financial conference call was held on November 3 (the day before BlizzCon started), and for the second time in a row it didn’t feature a roundup by Mike Morhaime. Thomas Tippl discussed the progress and status of Blizzard games, with some highlights by Bob Kotick. Mike Morhaime was present during the conference, however. He participated in the Q&A at the end.
Kotick: We delivered another record quarter, and we continue to focus on building enduring franchises for our nearly 500 million monthly players around the world. Continuous innovation within existing franchises, and the creation of new franchises (like Overwatch) helps broaden our audiences, deepen engagement, and increase player investment.
We believe gaming is the most engaging form of media, and players spend tens of billions of hours a year with our franchises. In fact, this quarter alone, our players spent over 10 billion hours playing our games. This strong engagement and the social experiences that are such an important part of gameplaying have been the catalyst for our new opportunities in enhanced game monetization, expansion of our franchises into linear media and consumer products, and greater involvement in advertising supported spectator gaming like we have with MLG.
It is estimated that as many as 225 million people are now watching organized gaming competitions. Competition between videogame players is becoming as thrilling to watch as traditional professional sports. With the launch of professional global leagues, we believe games spectating will grow significantly as an opportunity for us and for our players. The increased popularity of spectator gaming will enable us to celebrate and reward our players, and recognize their accomplishments. Professional gamers will eventually be as celebrated, honored, and recognized as professional athletes.
Professional gamers will be the role models and goodwill ambassadors of the digital generation, and we believe great new business opportunities are emerging throughout the esports ecosystem, which we helped pioneer more than a decade ago with games like StarCraft.
In May, Blizzard released Overwatch, which in about four months has already eclipsed 20 million registered players making it Blizzard’s fastest, new intellectual property to reach that mark; and Overwatch was specifically designed to be a definitive competitive game.
We are uniquely positioned to realize the full potential of esports. We have some of the most successful iconic franchises in gaming, and direct relationships with nearly half a billion monthly active users. A powerful combination that distinguishes us from the rest of our competitors; and we have unmatched commercial capabilities that have served our shareholders extremely well over the last 25 years.
Before I hand off the call, I want to take this opportunity to thank the talented people who drive the success at our company every day. They are our greatest asset, inspiring play, competition and community by creating the most engaging entertainment in the world.
Activision Blizzard announced better-than-expected and Record 2016 Q3 financial results with nearly 1 billion in revenue from in-game content.
Blizzard had the biggest quarterly online player community in its history, with 42 million MAUsA, up 25% quarter-over-quarter and 50% year-over-year. This reflects the continued success of Overwatch® and the launch of World of Warcraft®: Legion™. Blizzard has more than doubled its MAUsA in just two years.
On August 30, 2016 , Blizzard launched World of Warcraft: Legion, which sold-through 3.3 million copies on day one, matching all-time records achieved by previous expansions, and ranking amongst the fastest-selling PC games ever. The new expansion grew franchise MAUsA by nearly 30% quarter-over-quarter.
Overwatch became Blizzard’s fastest game ever to reach over 20 million players globally, with a roughly even player base split between east and west. Overwatch also held the number one position in share of play time in Korean Internet Game Rooms from launch all the way through the third-quarter.
Blizzard’s Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™ had record quarterly MAUsA, which grew a double-digit percentage year-over-year.
Activision Blizzard held today its Q2 Financial Results conference call. For the first time, Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime did not report the progress across all video games. His report was read by Thomas Tippl (Chief-Operating-Officer) instead. Morhaime, however, participated in the Q&A session at the end of the conference.
Special highlights of the conference:
Remain focused on key priorities: building audiences globally, growing engagement by investing in new content, celebrating our players through initiatives like esports, and continuing to be a great place to work.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT