Activision Blizzard ends 2020 with 400 million players; Call Of Duty alone accounted for over one-fourth of them

On a call with analysts, Activision's president Rob Kostich said mobile is key for reaching tons of news players in Latin America

The entrance to the Activision Blizzard Inc. campus
The entrance to the Activision Blizzard Inc. campus is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., August 6, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake/File Photo

The California-based gaming giant Activision Blizzard reported its fourth-quarter results on Thursday, topping analysts’ expectations and forecasting a new year of record sales in 2021. “In a year filled with adversity, our extraordinary employees were determined to provide connection and joy to our 400 million players around the world,” said the company’s CEO Bobby Kotick in the press release. 2020 marked a record year for its Call of Duty franchise, which drew 128 million monthly active players across all gaming platforms. The 40% Y-o-Y growth in CoD sales was partly driven by a strong shift to digital downloads.

READ ALSO: Mobile experiences and subscription online services among Electronic Arts’ main bets to grow on top of its large franchises

Another successful franchise of Blizzard, World of Warcraft, saw strong engagement across both classic and modern game modes throughout
2020. The brand’s net bookings (net amount of products and services sold in the period) grew 40% year-over-year, reaching the highest level in nearly a
decade. WoW ended 2020 with 29 million active players worldwide.

Videogame makers across the world continue to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced people to remain indoors, leading to a surge in demand from stay-at-home gamers. Overall, digital sales grew 35% in 2020 over 2019, accounting for 82% ($6.6 bln) of the company’s total net bookings (in 2019, its represented 76%, or $4.9 bln).

When looking at regions where PC and console access is still far from its true potential, Activision’s president Rob Kostich was emphatic about how key the company’s mobile projects are:

We believe we have a lot of headroom in regions around the world to grow this business. And the beauty of CoD Mobile’s that allows us to reach new players and markets where a console and PC may not be as well developed. And we’ve seen tens of millions of new players in regions like Latin America, India, and beyond, where we’re seeing potential for a lot more upside.

ROB KOSTICH, Activision‘s president.

The company celebrated its 10h anniversary in Latin America last year. Activision Blizzard was born in 2007, from the merger between the 29-year-old Blizzard Entertainment, a well-known developer and publisher of gaming software, and Activision.

In the statement for its investors, the company stressed that much of its growth was driven by strong execution in premium content, in-game operations, expansion of its mobile presence, and new engagement models. “We are already seeing the impact of our growth initiatives for Call of Duty,
World of Warcraft and Candy Crush, which we expect to again drive strong results in 2021. And at the same time, we are making significant progress against our development pipeline for other key intellectual properties, which we expect to fuel further growth in 2022 and beyond,” the company wrote.

READ ALSO: Sony struggles to build more PS5s amid home entertainment boom

For the year ended December 31, 2020, the company’s net revenues reached $8.09 billion, way up the results of $6.49 billion registered in 2019. On Thursday, during a conference call with analysts, the company’s executives said that they expect full-year adjusted sales to be $8.45 billion, above Wall Street’s average estimate of $8.31 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Get the best insights about Latin America market in your inbox