Activision Blizzard’s quarterly earnings call took place last night. While the C-levels and financial folk were there to share the numbers, the focus on a "safe, equitable and inclusive" environment was clear from minute one, which should come as no surprise to anyone following the plight of the firm over the last week or so.
Equally, the fact that the majority of shareholder questions chose not to focus on the spectre of abuse hanging over the firm might shock a few, but probably should not, as the allegations have had a negative effect on the company already — including the departure of Blizzard President J. Allen Brack.
With all of that said, the fact remains that this was not a universally positive call for the company, which is not usual for one of the most profitable names in gaming. Both net and in-game bookings were down year on year, with a drop in monthly active users (MAU) also reported despite strong performance from the Call of Duty brand.
Blizzard in a pickle
Overall, MAUs were down again from March of this year, although Activision at least can boast growth based on the 12-month figure. The same cannot be said for the beleaguered Blizzard brand, with MAUs down every quarter since this time last year. Across the combined brands the firm has seen a drop in MAUs against Q2 2020, with King carrying the majority of users thanks to their incredible performance in the modible space.
The fact King remains a success story is not new news, with Candy Crush once again the highest-grossing game franchise in US app stores but it sits in stark contrast to the Blizzard brand. It was announced on the call that "Overwatch 2 development passed an important internal milestone in recent weeks", which will give hope to investors, but the association with Blizzard and failure of the Overwatch League don’t speak to a bright future for the first-person shooter.
Elsewhere, Call of Duty continues to deliver, with the mobile game seeing net bookings grew double-digit percentages year-over-year, driven in part by the launch of the game in China. Call of Duty Mobile is on track to exceed $1 billion in consumer spending for the year, with more hours played in the overall franchise in Q2 of 2021 than in the entirety of 2019, despite difficult press for the Warzone title of late.
There were no updates on the legal situation or the news that Activision Blizzard employees have rejected the law firm brought in to (ostensibly) oversee a root-and-branch investigation into the toxic culture that culminated in the DFEH investigation. However, when an investor asked how the firm intends to regain "Blizzard pride", new co-leader Mike Ybarra chose not to speak on the subject, suggesting by his silence that the company has a long way to go before regaining the trust of its fans and staff.