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Activision Blizzard released its Q1 2020 financial results today, revealing that Blizzard Entertainment’s games have seen gains in player activity while many people are staying at home during the pandemic.
“Each of Blizzard’s key franchises experienced a month-on-month increase in MAUs (monthly active users) in March as a result of shelter-at-home tailwinds,” Blizzard said in its release. In total, its games achieved 32 million MAUs in the first quarter.
Blizzard focuses on online multiplayer games. These are evergreen for many fans, offering over hundreds of hours of gameplay and a way to stay connected with friends during social distancing. They also have monetization strategies — like a monthly subscription for World of Warcraft or purchasable digital card packs in Hearthstone — that can continue to bring in money for Activision Blizzard.
Many games, many players
Activision singled out World of Warcraft, which had seen an increase in player numbers after the August 2019 release of World of Warcraft Classic. Growth continued in March as new and returning players flocked to both the retail and Classic versions of WoW. Modern World of Warcraft has given players a double experience point bonus starting in March. It proved so popular that Blizzard has extended the perk, which was supposed to end in April, to until the next expansion, Shadowlands, launches later this year.
Hearthstone is also seeing improved engagement, thanks to the continued popularity of the auto chess-inspired Battlegrounds mode, which launched in November. Activision also noted that Overwatch‘s player engagement “increased meaningfully in March.”
It’s worth noting that Activision did not mention the one Blizzard game that launched in 2020: Warcraft III: Reforged. The remake of the classic real-time strategy game debuted in January with a myriad of bugs and fell short of player expectations.
Still, Blizzard had a strong quarter. But it cannot depend on the pandemic encouraging people to flock to its games forever. Blizzard has strong plans for the future, however, including Overwatch 2, Diablo IV, and Diablo: Immortal, along with the release of Shadowlands later this year.
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