Blizzard Loses Millions Of Monthly Players But Is Making More Money

Blizzard made more money from fewer players in Q1 2021.

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Activision Blizzard's latest earnings report was an overall positive story for the mega-publisher, with the company improving revenue and profit compared to last year. Not all of the numbers were moving in a positive direction, however, as the number of monthly active users for Blizzard's games dropped substantially compared to the same period last year.

Blizzard had 27 million monthly active users for the January-March period this year. This compares to 32 million in Q1 2020, 32 million in Q1 2019, and 38 million in Q1 2018.

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Despite the downturn in players, Blizzard's operating results were strong. Revenue grew 7% year-over-year, thanks primarily to Warcraft and specifically WoW's Shadowlands expansion.

"World of Warcraft saw strong reach, engagement, and participation in value added services, along with a particularly high number of new players joining the community for the first time, boosted by initiatives to enhance the onboarding experience," Activision Blizzard said.

Activision Blizzard defines monthly active users as the number of people who played a particular game in a given month. The number is calculated by adding the total number of monthly active users in each of the months in a period, and dividing it by three.

"For Blizzard, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would generally be counted as a single user," Activision Blizzard said.

This differs for Activision and King. Due to "technical limitations," a player who plays the same game on two platforms or devices is counted as two users. Activision Blizzard also cautioned that some of its data comes from third-parties.

While Blizzard's total number of players might be down year-over-year, it's not altogether very surprising. Q1 2020 marked the beginning of the pandemic, which led to a surge in people playing games, so a comparison to that quarter was always going to be difficult to match. Blizzard is seemingly poised for a lot of growth in the future, as the company is releasing Diablo II: Resurrected and WoW: Classic - The Burning Crusade this year. The mobile game Diablo Immortal is also releasing in 2021 and could make a huge impact. it will be a free-to-play title with optional purchases.

Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 won't make it out until 2022 at the soonest, but they should be big growth-drivers when they release.

Outside of the new Blizzard numbers, the Activision Blizzard report revealed massive new numbers for Call of Duty and news that 2021's game will be developed by Sledgehammer Games and will feature integration with Warzone.

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