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Activision Blizzard Q2 2019 Earnings Call

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The Q2 2019 Earnings Call was held on August 8 and Blizzard remains at 32 million monthly active users (MAUs). WoW subscribers increased since mid-May, following the release of WoW Classic Beta and Rise of Azshara.

Q2 2019 Earnings Call Highlights

  • Hearthstone MAUs increased Q/Q following the release of the Rise of Shadows expansion and deeper, more engaging new single-player content in the quarter.
  • Overwatch MAUs were relatively stable Q/Q, with engagement increasing following the release of the Workshop.
  • World of Warcraft® subscribers increased since mid-May, following the release date announcement and beta for World of Warcraft Classic and the Rise of Azshara update.
  • At Blizzard, daily time spent per player increased Y/Y.
  • Overwatch League hours viewed continued to grow Y/Y in the two stages held during Q2. Season to date, viewership and average minute audience have grown double digits Y/Y.
  • Activision Blizzard delivered approximately $800M of in-game net bookings in Q2.
  • Revenues and operating income are down Y/Y, reflecting lower in-game revenues.
  • Operating margin fell Y/Y, with the revenue decline partially offset by lower costs.
  • They continue expanding their development teams and resources to accelerate the delivery of content in their pipeline, pursue business models, etc.

Slide Presentation

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    If I am not mistaken they didn't include Starcraft on the "games we are currently working on" list. Heroes of the Storm I was expecting, but Starcraft? It would be a shame if we didn't get any more work done with the franchise. I guess RTSs are too hard to monetize.

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    1 hour ago, lChronosl said:

    If I am not mistaken they didn't include Starcraft on the "games we are currently working on" list. Heroes of the Storm I was expecting, but Starcraft? It would be a shame if we didn't get any more work done with the franchise. I guess RTSs are too hard to monetize.

    Yeah, seems there are now no plans for another Starcraft. They can still provide balance patches, these war chests for supporting e-sports prize pool and maybe a co-op commander (although it looks like there is now one per year, also they're running out of characters). HotS has been missing from their financial reports for a while. It's hard to get stable casual audience for RTS like SC2, as it is too fast and one mistake can often decide between victory and defeat. 

    Edited by Arcling
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    5 hours ago, lChronosl said:

    If I am not mistaken they didn't include Starcraft on the "games we are currently working on" list. Heroes of the Storm I was expecting, but Starcraft? It would be a shame if we didn't get any more work done with the franchise. I guess RTSs are too hard to monetize.

    Sadly, RTS is in significant decline. A 4x would probably be more of whats in store for the future of SC (Especially considering how all the commanders play, allows for quite a bit of faction filling for a 4x)

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    On 8/10/2019 at 5:28 PM, Frogspoison said:

    Sadly, RTS is in significant decline. A 4x would probably be more of whats in store for the future of SC (Especially considering how all the commanders play, allows for quite a bit of faction filling for a 4x)

    "RTS is in decline" really sounds to me like "Horror games are dead" did back in the early 2010s. They're in decline because there hasn't been a major, big-budget RTS release since... what, grey goo? Planetary Annihilation? Do either of those count? I don't think they meet the 'big budget' standard that Starcraft 2 did. Command and conquer rivals could be argued, but I'm not even sure I'd lump that in with traditional RTS games. The mere fact that SC 2 is still king of the RTS is partially because it's so good and so pro-oriented, and partially because no one has even tried for the throne.

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    On 8/12/2019 at 3:44 PM, LostDeep said:

    "RTS is in decline" really sounds to me like "Horror games are dead" did back in the early 2010s. They're in decline because there hasn't been a major, big-budget RTS release since... what, grey goo? Planetary Annihilation? Do either of those count? I don't think they meet the 'big budget' standard that Starcraft 2 did. Command and conquer rivals could be argued, but I'm not even sure I'd lump that in with traditional RTS games. The mere fact that SC 2 is still king of the RTS is partially because it's so good and so pro-oriented, and partially because no one has even tried for the throne.

    The problem with real-time strategy is that because it's real time, you never have the time to properly think through your decisions, or else you'll fall behind on your macro-management. You never get a chance to take a step back and assess the situation, which turns off a lot of people who enjoy strategy games. Meanwhile, there's so much multitasking to do and so much information to keep track of that your traditional fast-reflex FPS fans (i.e. the types of people who play CS:GO and Overwatch) are turned off as well.

     

    From my point of view, an RTS like Starcraft is kinda the worst of both worlds between action games and strategy games; too much information to keep track of, not enough time to process any of it. I think it'll always be a niche genre, especially in multiplayer.

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    On 8/13/2019 at 5:06 PM, Monlyth said:

    The problem with real-time strategy is that because it's real time, you never have the time to properly think through your decisions, or else you'll fall behind on your macro-management. You never get a chance to take a step back and assess the situation, which turns off a lot of people who enjoy strategy games. Meanwhile, there's so much multitasking to do and so much information to keep track of that your traditional fast-reflex FPS fans (i.e. the types of people who play CS:GO and Overwatch) are turned off as well.

     

    From my point of view, an RTS like Starcraft is kinda the worst of both worlds between action games and strategy games; too much information to keep track of, not enough time to process any of it. I think it'll always be a niche genre, especially in multiplayer.

    I can see that, but it's still not as if anyone's really taken big swings at the genre. It's got flaws, by all means, but it still has an appeal and there hasn't been many people trying. I'm hopeful for the upcoming Iron Harvest, though as a Kickstarter game that's very much on a dangerous edge. I do think the 'golden age' for multiplayer RTS is done, but there's still plenty of market for single-player experiences. Market that's surprisingly untapped at times, with everyone and their dog trying to make Battle Royale or E-Sports games.

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    9 hours ago, LostDeep said:

    I can see that, but it's still not as if anyone's really taken big swings at the genre. It's got flaws, by all means, but it still has an appeal and there hasn't been many people trying. I'm hopeful for the upcoming Iron Harvest, though as a Kickstarter game that's very much on a dangerous edge. I do think the 'golden age' for multiplayer RTS is done, but there's still plenty of market for single-player experiences. Market that's surprisingly untapped at times, with everyone and their dog trying to make Battle Royale or E-Sports games.

    I think that if Real-time strategy is going to make a comeback, it needs to get out of the shadow of Starcraft. It's a great series, to be sure, but the formula still has a lot of room for improvement. Like the multitasking; when there's so much multitasking that even the best players in the world frequently struggle to keep up with everything, there's a serious problem. Real-time strategy should acknowledge the limits of the human body, and the human brain.

    And I think real-time strategy needs to emphasize the strategy part of it more.  I think there needs to be more emphasis on out-thinking your opponent, instead of just having a better APM and by extension, better macro and better micro. If my chosen strategy is a great counter to my opponent's strat and I can predict almost every move he makes, but he can still easily beat me with "brute force" by just building more stuff than me or running circles around me with micro-heavy units, I think that's a little problematic.

    Specifically, I'd like to see an RTS that also puts emphasis on pre-battle preparations, like the SC2 campaign. Choosing upgrades for your units before the battle starts. I think that'd make an interesting game, if difficult to balance.

    Edited by Monlyth
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