Activision Blizzard Made $4 Billion On Microtransactions Last Year

Microtransactions, including in-app purchases for mobile games, are booming at Activision Blizzard.

80 Comments

Microtransactions are big business at Activision Blizzard. The company said today in an earnings report that revenue from "in-game net bookings," which include things like DLC sales, loot boxes, and in-app purchases on mobile games, reached $4 billion for 2017. During the fourth quarter alone, Activision Blizzard brought in over $1 billion for in-game net bookings. These figures represent quarterly and annual records for Activision Blizzard.

Importantly, as analyst Daniel Ahmad explained on Twitter, around $2 billion of Activision Blizzard's annual revenue from in-game net bookings came from the company's mobile subsidiary, King, which operates Candy Crush. The other $2 billion came from Activision Blizzard's console and PC efforts, along with Activision Blizzard's efforts on mobile such as Hearthstone.

Call of Duty: WWII offers microtransactions in the form of Call of Duty Points, which can be spent to unlock loot boxes that contain cosmetic items. Additionally, Activision recently launched the game's first paid map pack, Resistance. In Overwatch, players can spend money on loot boxes that contain things like skins and sprays. World of Warcraft has a significant in-game economy as well, as players can purchase things like mounts and pets for real money, among many other things.

Activision Blizzard is not the only publisher that makes a lot of money from microtransactions. Electronic Arts, which found itself in hot water regarding Star Wars: Battlefront II's use of microtransactions, reported $787 million in what it calls "live services" for the latest quarter.

Additionally, Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead parent publisher Take-Two Interactive said this week that GTA Online and NBA 2K18 recently set records for what the company calls "recurrent consumer spending." Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick at one time referred to GTA Online as "the gift that keeps on giving" as it relates to the money it makes from the game's microtransactions.

For Activision Blizzard, EA, and Take-Two, each company reported year-over-year gains for microtransaction revenue. While such systems can be highly controversial, it is clear that they are popular and people are willing and eager to spend.

For more on Activision Blizzard's earnings report today, check out the stories linked below.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 80 comments about this story
80 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
  • 80 results
  • 1
  • 2
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for Bamda
Bamda

And this is why Activision is my least favorite of all the major game publishers. I only buy their games when the prices are extremely low which is not often.

Avatar image for colaboksen
Colaboksen

Disgusting trend, you are collective ruining games for me. Well done.

Avatar image for nyarlathotep
Nyarlathotep

And the "gaming industry" including the "journalists" try to sell us the lie that games are to expensive to make and they need to increase the price of AAA titles. lmao

You are all greedy bastards and the journalists are in bed with the industry. They even have a revolving door where journalists become spokespersons or even team leads or vice versa.

No wonder they sell us shit like Destiny 2(5.0 by customers) with a 8.4(IGN) or 90(Polygon and tons of others). Critics? lmao again

Avatar image for Italianblur
Italianblur

Microtransactions make sense for some people and I think that's why the industry continues to see this trend increasing.

Let's take GTA Online for example (one of my previous favorite gaming experiences). The Megalodon shark card gives you $8,000,000. By most accounts I've seen, making $250,000 per hour in game is plausible for players to accomplish. That comes out to 32 hours played in game to make the amount of one Megalodon card. Now for someone like me who has very limited time to enjoy video games, 32 hours is significantly more time than I would like to spend grinding besides the fact that 32 hours would amount to about two months worth of gaming time for me.

Now if I were to look at the $100 expense of a Megalodon card in terms of hours invested it would come out to about four hours of the daily work grind for me. When i think of it this way, those 28 hours of my life I don't spend completing repetitive tasks to get what I want in game is worth much more than the $100 out of my pocket.

With all that being said, I don't support Microtransactions nor will I and I think they are killing the gaming industry I used to love. So effectively I have three choices as a gamer/consumer... grind with time I don't have, play the Microtransaction game (giving in to this atrocious practice), or quit playing the game altogether. I'm forced to go with the third option every time as I'm priced out of enjoying one of my oldest hobbies.

TLDR: Microtransactions work for some but not for me so one of my favorite hobbies is now mostly part of my past.

Avatar image for ssdd_again
ssdd_again

I'd rather pay £70 to £80 (as it should be) for the base game with the DLC included from day one (and not cut out and bolted on later) and zero micro-transactions/gambling mechanics.

If you're not willing to pay that much you can't really argue against the micro-transactions model (abhorrent as it is) as that is the reason in came into existence in the first place.

Avatar image for khanwashere
KhanWasHere

That's a lot of morons. Sorry... I mean "Gaming Community".

Avatar image for hardcoregamer1
hardcoregamer1

No wonder so many people are poor because they waste their money on crap like this.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ae060efb3bf6

Wonder how much was made on DLC that is kept out of the main game at launch....

Avatar image for deactivated-5ad5af79a96e8

I don't mind micro-transactions, if people want to pay for stuff then fine. What I don't agree with is loot boxes, that is just gambling disguised. Although you are guaranteed to come away with something, which according to some makes it not gambling, I think the whole thing needs to be binned. Let people buy what they want and as long as it is fluff or shortcuts then fine, if it is a paid advantage then no.

I mean when somebody spends over $60,000 to buy a CSGO skin ... a fool and his money are easily parted. Let them part with the money in-game if they want, just don't turn people onto gambling via the back door by utilising loot boxes.

Avatar image for heqteur
Heqteur

@Fallenlords69: To me, it's not gambling for a different reason. Usually, gambling gives you chance of winning something worth money, that you can either keep or trade/sell for money. While some could argue that skins are also worth money because people are literally buying them in other games, you still can't say "nah, I'm going to trade that super rare skin I won and take the money instead". With loot boxes, you're stuck with whatever you win so, in essence, you're just buying virtual goodies, which MAY end up being one of the rare ones. To me, the fact that luck/randomness is involved doesn't necessarily mean it's gambling. I could make another analogy with rng based loot. Let's say you pay and buy diablo 3. you do spend money for a game in which your character's gear is won through a slot machine like mechanic. This would be just as much gambling as buying loot boxes. The only difference is that you can indefinitely spin the wheel once you paid to get the game while buying loot boxes give you a finite amount of try for a fixed amount of money. I still hate loot boxes and I despise whoever came up with the fact that so many people would be ready to spend that much money on random skins, but I have a hard time calling it gambling.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ad5af79a96e8

@heqteur: I think the problem with purchasing loot boxes, is are you guaranteed goods in return for the value you have paid? In most cases when I have seen people drop £100 etc on loot boxes via YouTube etc, the return has never been of equal value.

That is easy to check in games like ESO/MMO's for example, where you buy stuff for crowns and can tot up the value of a crown/loot crate for comparison. Not so easy in games where loot crates exist, but you can't buy single items etc.

So to my mind that is a gamble. You gamble in the hope of a better return than a simple investment in what you want. If you pay £100 and get £100 of value back, fair enough. But most of the time the gamble is getting the odd rare item, top player, to make the gamble worth while. But generally with purchasable loot boxes, people are dropping money 'in the hope' of securing a rare item. That to me is gambling. You are playing a game of chance for money.

If loot boxes are part of the game mechanic but doesn't require a separate purchase. Then fair enough. Nothing wrong in that. I think it adds a certain replay value for people that want to grind for better gear etc.

Avatar image for sweet_jcs
sweet_jcs

@Fallenlords69:

If they made 4 billion, the house definitely won. That's gambling

Avatar image for fenbops
Fenbops

What a pathetic state of affairs. We are in the minority it seems not buying into this industry bullshit. Really sad to see this.

Avatar image for sagittarius476
Sagittarius476

@fenbops: I wouldn't say we are in the minority, there are many folks who are very well aware of gaming industry leeching money off consumers but there is the casual crowe & foreigners who are not aware of such things & they are to blame lol plus YouTubers like legacy killa, Yong Yea, ACG do a good job making folks aware.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

And this is the issue right there that has been commented a million times here (and everywhere). Microtransactions in retail-priced games as we know them won't go away nor change as long as people keep paying for them.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

That's impressive! relatively cheap to create they must be getting huge returns on them!

Avatar image for darth_zaramoth
darth_zaramoth

Lol, and then we wonder why they keep pushing ever and ever more intrusive and blatant microtransactions in single player games, or lootcrates and pay-to-win crap in MP games.

Sadly, despite the backlash people gave EA for Battlefront 2 and a couple of other MT hotbeds of 2017, I doubt it made a dent in the long run. This seems to be the tragic status quo now because for every 1 person who realizes this BS there are 5+ who will buy the games anyway and spend extra money in the game store.

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

Next thing they will say that game development is not cheap for DECENT GAME and they DO NOT have money for it ........

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

Stop BUYING HEARTHSTONE PACKS come on, STOP.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@wexorian: Hearthstone is a F2P game. At least they have that going for them.

Avatar image for June-GS
June-GS

*In Fluttershy's soft monotone voice* Yay......

Avatar image for mrdinghat
MrDinghat

I hate this industry. People just don't care that by purchasing these microtransactions, they're actively enabling these corporations to make worse games since they balance content around MTs.

Avatar image for rumadbrah
RUMADBRAH

And look at all the great games they released in the past few years. Lol sry I couldn't keep a straight face and say that. FK Activision

Avatar image for oKiRe
oKiRe

This information is a little convoluted. Are they mixing in dlc with their micro transaction sales?

It seems like they are purposely blurring the line between the 2...

Avatar image for guardian88
Guardian88

@oKiRe: I had the same thought and agree with you 100%. Call of Duty and Destiny DLC is big business and has to be a big chunk of the $2 billion being discussed.

The title of this thread is quite disingenuous...

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

@oKiRe: Is there really a line? It's all extra stuff for your games that you buy with a single click. Sure the 30 hour dlc campagns can be argued about, but how about the 30 minute and 5 minute extra missions. Those are pretty micro

Avatar image for guardian88
Guardian88

@PrpleTrtleBuBum: There is absolutely a line. DLC in particular is often quite a bit of extra development cost, and would simply not be made if the opportunity to sell it for extra did not exist. Many times this stuff is made after the base game has already launched.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

@guardian88: C'mon. Lets look back at 2006-2015

"Missions cut from story wahwah!"
"Extra characters and vehicles sold separatedly. This would have been unlock before wahwah!"
"Power armor for my horror game guy sold for 5 bucks wahwah!

Yes stuff like Shivering Isles and Ballad Of Gay Tony were praised as DLC that's worthwhile. Out of all the DLC items made during those year the amount of those are about 1-10%. Yes the modern "extra lives as DLC" system is even worse because that makes games revolve around them, but even before like 80% of DLC was garbage

Avatar image for oKiRe
oKiRe

@PrpleTrtleBuBum:

Yes there is a line. We used to have things called expansions for video games, which is now known to us as dlc. To compare something like an expansion to a micro transaction is not the same thing. Lots of people buy dlc, there is nothing wrong with that. But to support small one content items like micros and loot crates is a completely different story.

Avatar image for puaemerson
puaemerson

@oKiRe: If DLC was profitable they would make it. DLC & expansions generally are not profitable anymore for most games.

Avatar image for guardian88
Guardian88

@puaemerson: LOL this is simply not true.

Avatar image for PSYCHOV3N0M
PSYCHOV3N0M

"Activision Blizzard Made $4 Billion On Microtransactions Last Year"

And yet one can count on just one hand how many quality titles (IF ANY) they've released within the past few years. That $4 Billion is really going to good use *sarcasm*. Good job voting with your wallets guys. That'll show them.

I hope a massive crash in the gaming industry occurs so EVERYONE can learn a huge lesson...

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16
chiefwiggum16

And this is why, this gen will be my last.

Avatar image for 129260
129260

@chiefwiggum16: You dont have to stop gaming, just dont buy games with the crappy mtx practice.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16
chiefwiggum16

@129260: which is 90% of games now. Im not spending all sorts of cash on a new console just to play Indie games with no loot boxes

Avatar image for joalopes
joalopes

@129260: Issue is that it's spreading to pretty much every game.
Going forward the best items, or the coolest looking stuff is only going to be available to those willing to pay extra.

An example of one of my favorite games. The Last Of Us MP is pretty good and still active these days. But the best weapons and perks are only available to those willing to pay.
Worst. Those weapons and perks are some of the best in the game.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p41Suwvf-4

Avatar image for gamer112696
gamer112696

Since when has DLC counted as micro transactions?! I like DLC because they are often single player expansions (RE7, Fallout, Dishonored, The Evil Within). I hope that’s where most of the money is coming from for companies like this (DLC) and not from loot boxes and Madden Ultimate team card BS, and Rainbow Six currency and all that crap. Expansions seem worthy of buying for many games, but all that crap like in game currency for real money, and stuff to level you up faster is a stupid purchase. They don’t give you anything new, they just give you stuff faster that you could have gotten with time. At least DLC can give you a alternative perspective of some kind (play as a different character or in a different time from the original campaign) or just the same great formula with more missions. I feel like most of these companies make money from DLC since they are normally priced higher than real micro transactions. But then again micro transactions may be cheaper, but the same person can buy it multiple times, to the point of becoming addicted.

Avatar image for kyotoforever
KyotoForever

@gamer112696: Yah I agree. There's no problems with Expansion Packs / DLC. The Last of Us DLC was one of THE best Add-Ons I've ever bought (if you haven't played it, the story, cinematics, missions, etc.) were top notch and didn't feel like "filler." It was pretty important to Ellie's background story.

Avatar image for gamer112696
gamer112696

@kyotoforever: Yes i did in fact play it, and I agree it was a very good and important DLC.

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

@gamer112696: DLC goes for Microtransaction since they had not RELEASED anything new or special mostly for a 3 year. and this 4 million is only MS income.

Avatar image for kaidou069
Kaidou069

@gamer112696: But if we separate then it will be too clear where most of those money come from and I think that is what Blizzard try to avoid.

Avatar image for gamer112696
gamer112696

@kaidou069: very possible

Avatar image for j3diknightdave
j3DiKNiGHtDAVE

way to go activision, if they are smart enough to get stupid people to buy something that most likely won't even be relevant in a years time, and to boot, something thats not even real, that you can't resale. My hats off to them.

its like saying, let me have a dollar for absolutely nothing... times that a billion, and you have the problem with at least america.

Avatar image for 095610
095610

So I what wonder, is the fight that some are waging against microtransactions working? Because what we're seeing from companies like EA and Activision here, is that they're more a positive than a negative. Does that make it right no, but what we're seeing is a vocal minority somewhat being silenced by the silent majority.

Avatar image for puaemerson
puaemerson

@095610: No one comes online to say "yay I purchased this awesome thing!" or "hey look what I just got from a loot box!" - if they did they would get flamed. So you end up getting an echo chamber of negative reactions even tho clearly everyone is spending money on these things.

Avatar image for jamesbr27
JamesBR27

Im glad to not be a part of these crowds.

The day I pay real money inside a game will be the last day I play video-games.

Avatar image for puaemerson
puaemerson

@jamesbr27: You already pay real money inside a game if you buy it at all. It's just if you spend the money beforehand or afterwards. Many people buy season passes or deluxe editions but don't consider themselves people who spend money on MTX, but that's exactly what's happening.

  • 80 results
  • 1
  • 2