Friday, February 10, 2017

An Analysis of Blizzard's Q4 Earnings Release

So after saying on Alternative Chat's Blog that I wasn't going to comment on Activision Blizzard's Q4 earnings release, after reading through it again, I just can't help myself.

I won't be providing the normal line by line in depth analysis, because frankly, very little of it is driven by Warcraft anymore, and it can all pretty much be summed up by "we made a shit load of money!"

But here are a few things that I did want to highlight:

They did report that Warcraft had a 10% increase in MAU's year over year and a 20% increase in the 4th quarter, which sounds pretty positive on the face of it.  But think back to the fourth quarter of last 2015.  I went back a looked at my blog from that quarter and there were titles like "Not Much of An Update" and "Why Not Level a Third Warlock?  What Else Is There To Do".  The fourth quarter of 2015 was the absolute pits of disgust and boredom with Warlords of Draenor and to only post a 20% increase over THAT.  Well, to quote a certain current world leader.  SAD.

The other interesting thing that they did start to provide data on is a new metric on "play time" which is not something that we've seen them publicly reporting on by platform before.  But they did disclose that this quarter for Warcraft was the highest amount of play time of any non-launch quarter in the last four years.  Which at least implies that, while their user numbers may have dropped off following launch, they are maintaining a decent amount of time per user (no doubt grinding out artifact power, but hey!).  That does at least imply they are getting something right about the pace of content releases this time around.

They also disclosed that Blizzard had record levels of full year and fourth quarter "in-game content" driven by World of Warcraft in-game content.  What is this "in-game content" that I'm paying for in World of Warcraft?  I don't recall any content / quest chains, DLC's, or other things that I have to pay for in game.  Oh yeah.  That would be the Token market.  Apparently that is working out quite well for them.

Oh, and one other interesting data point.  Blizzard's revenue and operating profit was higher this year than Activision's.  And that hasn't happened before.


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