WoW sees ‘growth’ in Q4 2015; Legion still on track for summer

ActivisionBlizzard has posted its Q4 2015 financial report, touting record digital revenues up 20% year over year, thanks in part to game exports to Chinese audiences, but revenues were down quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. CEO Bobby Kotick says that once the company’s acquisition of King Digital is complete — and isn’t yet, so it’s not reflected here — “[Activision] will have the largest game network in the world, with over 500 million users playing [its] games every month.”

According to the investor call, 2015 was the first year more than 50% of Blizzard’s revenue was derived from sources other than World of Warcraft. Mike Morhaime told investors that WoW saw quarter-over-quarter growth for the game following last fall’s BlizzCon. It is unclear how growth is defined in this context.

We aren’t hearing hard numbers on a World of Warcraft subscriber bump or dip today, thanks to Blizzard’s decision that Q3 2015 was to be “the last quarter [it planned] to provide subscriber numbers” because of other metrics (like “engagement” metrics) that it claims are “better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance.” The game dropped 100k subs in Q3 2015, 1.5 million subs in Q2 2015, and 2.9 million subs in Q1 2015 following the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion in November 2014. At last known count, it stood at 5.5 million subs, down from its 2010 peak of 12 million.

The Legion expansion is still expected to launch this summer following the franchise’s movie.

Gamasutra notes that analysts predicted a record $2.2 billion for the quarter compared to Acitivision’s predictions of $2.15 billion, neither of which Activision reached with its $2.12 billion yearly revenue, partly a result of “foreign exchange” currency issues. Activision stock is down slightly on the news as well. While King’s acquisition isn’t reflected in Activision’s numbers today, its own fiscal report wasn’t glowing.

As to other games in the company’s portfolio, Hearthstone logged over 40 million registered players prior to the last adventure launch, while Destiny counts 25 million registered users and is still on track for a 2016 expansion and 2017 sequel. Overwatch launches soon too:

Blizzard Entertainment’s team-based shooter, Overwatch, will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in spring of 2016. An initial closed beta test ran from October 27, 2015 to December 10, 2015, and the game reached top-viewed status on Twitch. Closed beta testing resumed on February 9, 2016.

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schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

JeremiahWagner schmidtcapela 
For Cataclysm, heroic dungeons were fun if you had a fixed, well coordinated group to do them; if you had to rely on the LFD, they were an absolute nightmare. And my scheduling issues means that, even though I was in a raiding guild at the time, I wasn’t able to do any guild-sponsored dungeon runs, having to rely on the LFD for all my heroic dungeon runs.
It’s part of why I didn’t even get to try raiding in Cataclysm before leaving the game. The old world revamp killed all enjoyment I previously had in leveling alts; removing fast travel options meant that traipsing around the world to do old content I had skipped got a lot more boring due to all the time wasted to travel; and putting on the LFD content that was meant to only be doable by well geared and coordinated groups guaranteed that the experience would be atrocious for anyone that depended on the LFD to run heroic dungeons. So I went through all the solo content on my two main characters (Horde and Alliance), saw that there was nothing left to do that could be even marginally enjoyable, and gave up on the game after having played it since Vanilla.

Also, BTW: I could easily pull 4+ mobs at once while questing in Cataclysm, playing solo. Of course, that was a huge downgrade from WotLK, where I could pull 20+ mobs at a time and never be at risk of dying. Though I guess being a raid tank, always aware of everything around me and all my survival options, helps with that.

DrowNoble
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DrowNoble

Love to hear how they explain WoW’s “growth” even though we know subs are declining and the game is currently in a long content draught.  Perhaps they define growth differently than the rest of us?

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

schmidtcapela JeremiahWagner  A lot of the time raids were more hardcore then I was looking for too, but other things like heroic dungeons were amazing fun! Heroics for a long time were just perfect. They were hard enough that you needed to use things like cc sometimes and the healer would need to be on their toes from time to time, but they were not so hard that groups would have to give up a lot. Quests were hard enough that grabbing a friend to help make it a little easier was often a good idea , but not quite so hard that you had to have someone with you. Now the vast majority of questing is easily done solo , pulling 2 – 4 – even 6+ mobs at once to finish quests in a matter of seconds.

Geering
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Geering

jauffins Geering Zuji Karl_Hungus ArbsX They did because it was just a re-skinned version of Warcraft II.

So Blizzard was forced to redo everything. And what happened? Well, Starcraft went on to do quite well, allegedly.

I know it’s unthinkable, but not accepting every crap the companies feed you can lead to good results for both parties. Starcraft being a prime example.

Madda
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Madda

jauffins Madda ArbsX Karl_Hungus Except Warlords has accelerated the pace, to where Legion seems to be where Blizzard needs to get their shit together or they’re going to have a bad time.

But good job being late to the comment section here. ^^

jauffins
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jauffins

Boardwalker I’m not a hater. On the contrary – I’m actively subscribed, and find myself having bought a few too many WoW Tokens because it’s quicker for me to make $20 and get 35k gold than it is to go farm 35k gold. I am very disappointed in the game that I’ve seen go downhill for years, however.

jauffins
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jauffins

Geering Zuji Karl_Hungus ArbsX People dismissed Starcraft? LOL

jauffins
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jauffins

Madda ArbsX Karl_Hungus I appreciate the sarcastic/troll-ish comment, but it doesn’t change the fact that Blizzard has been in somewhat of a downward spiral with World of Warcraft for a number of years.

jauffins
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jauffins

Oh, Blizz. Gotta love the staggered expansion with no meaningful content for 12+ months.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Boardwalker 
WoW revenue has in the past increased even as subscription numbers decreased due to Blizzard finding new ways to fleece its player base. So, talking about “growth” here, without explaining just where the growth is, is ambiguous at best.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

JeremiahWagner JudgeDavid101 
I believe it does, though mostly because Blizzard, in its greed, put far more importance on segregating players according to whether they purchased each expansion than in making sure the experience feels seamless. Thus, as the time passed, the game started to feel more and more like a disjointed patchwork rather than a harmonious whole.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

JeremiahWagner 
I’m on the other side of the divide. From my point of view, WoW did too little, too late, to please the casual crowd, and its insistence on making group content (and particularly raids) central to the experience makes it far less interesting to me than it could have been. So, when other games that better related to the demographic I’m a part of started to appear I began to take notice (helped by how the Zombie Invasion event basically made WoW unplayable for me, so the time I would usually be playing I spent looking at what other MMOs had to offer), and when enough of my in-game friends left I left it too.
I’m not sure I’m going to ever be back. WoW would need to lure me anew, and right now I’m basically avoiding any MMO that has raids. They are the reason I stopped even following GW2 news since the expansion, even.

ArbsX
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ArbsX

rogerstim37 Oyjord I always wonder, if someone doesn’t raid or pvp in WoW. Why do they even bother playing,

ArbsX
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ArbsX

Skyewauker Wandris Oyjord Most are prbly poor bastards that complain about paying 15 bucks a month for a game. Yet would spend twice or triple that much in a single month.

ArbsX
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ArbsX

Karl_Hungus Madda ArbsX But if WoW is dead, everything is dead :p.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

SallyBowls1 breetoplay Karl_Hungus Something is already given now(level 100 character boost) therefore they can count the revenue now instead of waiting for the actual release.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

flatline4400 ManastuUtakata breetoplay SallyBowls1 Karl_Hungus LOL EXACTLY!

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

Karl_Hungus The “Growth” being spoken of is simply the increase in revenue do to the pre-orders of legion. Subs are still way way down and dropping.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

Damonvile SoMuchMass The truth is the truth.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

ArbsX They are not doing it because other companies do, they are doing because they are not able to brag anymore. Also they don’t want people to know exactly how fast the subs are dropping in an effort to keep what is left of the player base.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

WoW used to fit perfectly between Casual and Hardcore for the majority of the content , but now the majority of the content is just casual and boring. Removing what made the different classes special like hunters having pets that actually felt like pets because they needed to be kept happy with the type of food they like or mages make conjured food and water when now no one uses food or water 99% of the time. The list goes on. LFR destroying heroic dungeon fun. So many mistakes it makes me very sad.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

Wilhelm Arcturus Boardwalker WoW seeing growth is a complete lie just fyi, don’t get me wrong I loved WoW for years and years but it is dropping fast, the reason why it saw more money then usual this quarter is from the pre orders of Legion. Its very sad for me and many others , but the truth is WoW is currently broken just like 90% of MMORPG’S. You can have all kinds of really cool stuff in an MMO , but it only takes one really big problem to completely break an mmorpg.

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

JudgeDavid101 WoW receding has nothing to do with its age.

flatline4400
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flatline4400

ManastuUtakata breetoplay SallyBowls1 Karl_Hungus Look at it this way… if the sub numbers were going up, they’d be telling everyone about it.

Geering
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Geering

Zuji Karl_Hungus ArbsX

They tried to push the original Starcraft without any changes whatsoever from Warcraft II.

People saw it & dismissed it as Warcraft in Space. So, they redid everything.

Fanbois are as toxic, if not more, than aggressive complainers.

Praising everything, no matter how mediocre can actually hurt what you like more than overly critical rude people with no constructive criticism.

Of course, that doesn’t matter now… Blizzard managed to become as infallible as Atari. Even if they go bankrupt – for now, highly unlikely – they’ll emerge again later on. And then go bankrupt again, dragging several small companies down with them & re-emerge again at some point in the future.

Rinse, repeat.

carsont
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carsont

Soon as I read this I couldn’t help but think of “Chicago” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-zEtAuKuUY
Give ’em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger ’em
When you’re in trouble, go into your dance…

Zuji
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Zuji

Karl_Hungus ArbsX Please tell me more about that mythical age when Blizzard had to “answer for their choices in design”…

Dobablo
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Dobablo

breetoplay Dobablo SallyBowls1 Disclaimer!
I used IFRS15 because that is what I am familiar with. It is an international standard not effective until Jan-2018 so Act-Blizz wouldn’t report to that standard. They would however be in line with but similar US GAAP effective since 2011 so my interpretation shouldn’t be a million miles away.

shaw sbst
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shaw sbst

Bingin Arcsine MatthewRiddle Well, some poor guy with self-control problems thought it was better to pay $20 for your sub.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Dobablo breetoplay SallyBowls1 Thanks for that info, that is incredibly helpful!

rogerstim37
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rogerstim37

Oyjord  Out of interest what is it you enjoy about WoW most people I know who have left say they have done so because it has become so easy its no longer enjoyable anymore .

JudgeDavid101
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JudgeDavid101

Blizz’s other games are getting all of the love. WoW is receding but is getting old so no surprise. If subs have dropped below 4 million, not that we can know now, then total F2P might be incoming if revenues are dropping. A classic progressive WoW server might not be a bad idea either. The Warcraft movie should have been released at WoD’s launch for maximum impact but obviously was delayed imho.

Dobablo
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Dobablo

breetoplay A gravitational wave hit the servers causing them first to shrink, then to grow very slightly.

Dobablo
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Dobablo

Skyewauker Hmmmm. At $50 a pop it is probably cheaper to buy a copy for each of your wedding guests and get married in-game than it would be to put on a traditional wedding.

Dobablo
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Dobablo

breetoplay SallyBowls1 Under IFRS15, If the services are distinct and the customer can benefit from each service on its own then it should be accounted separately.
Therefore consuming a free level boost prior to the launch of Legion will result in approximately $27 [1] of revenue being recognised.

[1] – Very, very approximately, Box is $50 and comes with free boost (retails separately for $60). Revenue gets split proportionally between the separate products . A 6/11ths proportion of the bundled price is attributed to the boost should it be used prior to Legion’s release.

Dobablo
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Dobablo

ManastuUtakata breetoplay SallyBowls1 Karl_Hungus The one thing that they cannot spin is the revenue, and that is what an investor is most interested in. If I was financially involved in Acti-Blizz I’d want to know the size of the customer base, the total for how much they are earning and how efficiently they are effectively monetising those customers.
The sub numbers just tell me that there are some people paying a fixed amount, from whom I might be able to extract more cash, and an unknown number of people from whom I might be earning revenue but I am not because they are prevented from playing because of the subscription.

Dobablo
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Dobablo

SallyBowls1 breetoplay Karl_Hungus It must be horrible splitting out revenue according to game/brand when all your offerings are packaged services for multiple products to be made available over multiple financial periods. From an external accounting perspective it makes so much more sense to bundle those numbers into a big pot to accurately portray the health of the portfolio while giving individual product related non-financial metrics in the investor talk..

Bingin
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Bingin

Arcsine MatthewRiddle Yeah this is pretty much how i see it. Not sure the value in reporting sub numbers if its not an accurate graph of how much cash they made that quarter. My sub doesn’t run out until 2018 and its been that way since last summer. I’ve contributed 0 cash to the game personally for 2 quarters now despite my sub being active the whole time.

Wandris
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Wandris

Skyewauker Wandris Oyjord $50 + 3 mo =$92 USD.. for me it works out to $120 due to exchange rate. I have no problem buying games, and spending on MMO’s but what you get from WoW is not worth the price. There are literally 50 other MMO’s you are better off using that money in because there isn’t a clock counting down before the game is inaccessible. How is it not worth it? If WoW was one of the best MMO’s that would be one thing, but right now it only qualifies as mediocre due to the increasingly poor design choices over the years, as well as the languid pace of content releases, combined with milking the subscription only model. The WoW lore, art, scope is not bad and it was once a great game, but right now you are basically paying 5x the price for 5x less as well as a game that has been gutted of everything that once made it fun.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

Madda ArbsX Karl_Hungus 
Nah, just WoW :P

Madda
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Madda

ArbsX Karl_Hungus amg blizzird iz ded

Ceder
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Ceder

breetoplay Eliandal  It is pretty simple really.  If he had extremely good news/numbers, he’d shout it from the mountain tops because its good PR.  When things aren’t so good, you spin it to seem so with every trick in the book.

Estranged
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Estranged

@Skyewauker What the market will bear. It all comes down to that aspect. A mass produced product will be cheaper than your intimate experience. Restaurant overhead per customer is high.

Wilhelm Arcturus
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Wilhelm Arcturus

Boardwalker Well, even the story above says, “It is unclear how growth is defined in this context” so the headline seems misleading.  That leaves us with the fact that Legion didn’t slip, but is still targeted in a 3-month window called “summer.”  And, having actually listened to the call, WoW was barely mentioned relative to other Blizz titles.  Hardly anything to crow about across the board.

Skyewauker
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Skyewauker

Wandris Oyjord Its not $100 , its $50.  Me and my fiance spend double that on dinner and a movie in one night.  Thats 5 hours max entertainment.
How in the WORLD is spending $50 and getting a few months worth of content not worth it?  Hell even $50 + $45 for 3 months sub fees.
You people are UNREAL lol.

ArbsX
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ArbsX

Karl_Hungus ArbsX I agree

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

ArbsX Karl_Hungus 
It doesn’t matter. This is just the first time in the history of the game that Blizz has not announced sub numbers so folks are going to have to get used to that.

ArbsX
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ArbsX

Karl_Hungus ArbsX Exactly, so when if everyone else does it why does it matter than. Everyone doing the same thing.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

ArbsX 
Except that those other companies aren’t giving out hard numbers because it sounds negative reporting a consistently downward trend, which is the exact reason why Blizz no longer shares hard numbers. They’re tired of their player base saying things like, “See? The game’s direction sucks and the subs dropping like flies proves it!” Now Blizz no longer has to answer for their choices in design because they can white-wash their mediocrity with empty buzz words like “growth” and “engagement metrics.”

Wandris
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Wandris

Oyjord I played WoW becasue I enjoyed playing it. Now its spend $100 for the new content and 60 days, and when that time is up wait another 2 years before its worth playing it again, and in that 2 years get 2 content updates if you want to spend even more on a subscription for that timeframe. With WoW you are paying a high premium for a decadent product that is outdone by nearly all its competitors and which continues to be grossly reduced in depth every expansion. Add in other factors like obscene service charges for transfers, cash shop, and lack of ingenuity you have a game which is not worth it. I am just disappointed that what should have been the best MMO has become a shadow of its former self despite having vast financial resources beyond any other company and many talented developers.

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