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Ex-Community Manager Nevalistis Talks About Her Experience at Blizzard

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Former Blizzard Community Manager Brandy Camel, who also goes by the nickname Nevalistis, talked on her blog about her time at Blizzard and the memorable BlizzCon when Diablo Immortal was revealed.

Highlights

  • Nevalistis said she was only promoted twice in her 6.5-year tenure in the community, and both times by her managers as they were leaving the team.
  • The Diablo Immortal pushback was something that took a personal toll on her.
  • Activision didn't want to "give up the surprise" that Diablo IV was being worked on. Eventually, they released a video, which "wasn't sufficient", and spokespeople like herself and the Immortal team were "hung out to dry" at BlizzCon.
  • Nevalistis wanted to become a member of the Diablo team, but her application was refused. Ultimately, she decided to leave Blizzard for Dungeons & Dragons - Wizards.
  • After leaving Blizzard, Brandy “realized how underpaid she was”.

Here are a few excerpts from her personal blog. You can read the full post about her experience at Blizzard here.

Diablo Immortal Announcement

The Diablo Immortal pushback was something that took a very deep, very personal toll on me. 

Some of you may remember the Future of Diablo video we released just prior to the Immortal announcement. I pitched and championed this video as well as wrote the original script, because I was extremely in tune with the community and confident as to what the reception would be. Every step of the way, this approach was questioned. Every step of the way, the script was changed until it was unrecognizable, because leadership (particularly Activision and their obsession with investors) did not want to "give up the surprise" that Diablo IV was being worked on. Nevermind the fact there were plenty of clues this was already the case, like "unannounced Diablo title" job listings on our website. Eventually, we landed on the video that went out, which just wasn't sufficient, and spokespeople like myself and the Immortal team were hung out to dry at BlizzCon. 

I can't speak for the experience of others, but in regards to myself - I went to therapy specifically from that BlizzCon experience. I handled the Q&A line that year. I was crowded and ganged up on by angry and upset fans. Security was not there to help me; I was on my own. Developers were able to exit safely via backstage; I was vulnerable on the show floor, amidst the crowd of attendees. I knew this reaction was coming and I deeply empathized with them, but still I hoped for the best and tried to be available to a very hurt and frustrated community. Instead, I was still harassed until I called in friends to escort me from the show floor. 

I retreated to our community HQ behind the scenes (a room where we work on all our social media for the show and can take breaks from the show floor) and cried for at least an hour. Then, I put myself back together, and walked out on the show floor to keep dealing with the same vitriol the rest of the weekend because that was my job. I needed to put on a smile and be there for the fans. 

There was no support for this entire situation. Nothing from HR. No benefits to call on. Nothing from leadership except "don't listen to the haters." I asked; there was no ownership of the fact we were made targets and then left to be harassed constantly. Immortal is legitimately a good game, and something the team working on it is extremely passionate about. They want to change the landscape of mobile gaming and show you can have an amazing, engaging experience in that space, and I still feel they're succeeding. It was agonizing for that game, myself, and its team to be the punching bag of not just the community, but much of the rest of the company. Immortal became the scapegoat for a year we just shouldn't have had a BlizzCon, because there honestly just wasn't enough that was ready to announce. All of us that suffered for that, men and women alike, were just expected to keep on as though nothing had happened.

Pay at Blizzard

After leaving Blizzard, I realized how wildly underpaid I was. I had always suspected it to be the case, watching male peers in similar roles be able to purchase houses in Southern California on what should be the same salary while I actively accumulated further debt in a 3-person rental in order to survive my day to day. For many, surviving at Blizzard required either an extremely long commute (think roughly 2 hours in traffic one-way) for affordable housing or sharing a rental with multiple roommates. Most are wildly underpaid at Blizzard, but women in particular cannot survive on their salary or even begin to think about having children in that environment. It was a major component in the discussion with my now-husband as to why we never wanted kids (though ultimately we also decided it wasn't for us). My profession simply didn't pay enough to take care of myself, let alone another human being.  

Management & Progression Issues

After spending a lot of time in therapy reconciling the feelings of dismissal in my profession and as a person, I came to the determination that while I still wanted to work on Diablo, it was clear community (or at least, Blizzard's evolution of community) was not the right place for me to do so, especially as I had exhausted my personal path for progression without becoming a people manager. 

Let's talk about management as progression for a moment. Despite the fact I had been doing it in all the stints our team didn't have a manager, I had convinced myself I didn't want to become a manager. I was a creative. I was meant to be doing the meaningful work on the ground floor. In retrospect, I realize I had watched too many managers (sometimes, but not always, my own) be totally useless yes-men, and it's not that I didn't want to help my team succeed; it's that I thought I was already doing that by not being management in the first place. 

I began trying to explore other avenues to get onto Team 3; I had, for many years, expressed interest in eventually writing for Diablo. It's part of why I wrote a lot of community blogs aimed at lore; it let me network with designers, immerse myself in the canon, and remain a knowledgeable and credible source with the community. Several members of Team 3 whom I had grown close to over the years reinforced this was a good opportunity for me. "You'd be perfect for that!" "We could really use someone with your comprehensive knowledge!" "It'd be so great to have someone who really knows our audience!"

So I began trying. I applied for every opportunity that came up. I laid the groundwork with my management to pursue training and learning opportunities that would improve my chances. I asked for references and referrals. My first application, I received an immediate rejection. Not a "we've reviewed your application and we're not moving forward." Like, minutes after hitting submit, I received a rejection email. That was weird, especially given that in this instance I was asked to apply, so I pushed the issue, and eventually, got a single interview. 

When you're internally interviewed for a interdepartmental position, part of Blizzard's "Learn & Grow" philosophy is that you're supposed to receive action items on where you need to improve to try again. I never received this either; I had to, once again, push to ask why I didn't make the cut and how I could improve my chances. I was told I needed to provide an example that I could "use development tools to meaningfully implement narrative elements" and show that I could "learn any tool provided." 

Blizzard mostly uses internally built software for developing their games, so asking me for knowledge in a specific style of coding or with a particular software would have been pointless. So, I took that action - I built a roughly 15 minute experience in RPG Maker that was fully playable. I implemented narrative elements like voice over, music, sound effects, portaits, dialogue and storytelling through quest progress from scratch. This was entirely self-taught. I also heavily documented all the changes I made throughout my process, including bug logs, to show that I could document my work properly.

I also got approval from my management to participate in one of Team 3's game jams (usually a 24-48 hour sprint to make something; this could be anything from a minor piece of code to an entire game mode or proof of concept, and you could work in a team if you wanted). I self-taught myself use of their very not user-friendly proprietary tool to implement a small piece of code that the game otherwise didn't have, working in a small team of 3-4 people. My role was programming and implementation. The peers I reached out to and my teammates were happy to help me learn and guide me along the way. I had never done anything like this, and it worked really well! I was very proud of the work we did in just a couple short days. We showed it off to the whole team to pretty tepid reception. Sure, it wasn't fancy or flashy; but it did exactly what we were trying to do.

The next application I put in, I included all of this—and received another immediate rejection and no further follow-up. That was the day I gave up; they didn't want me, or what I could do. That was now very clear. No amount of work I was going to put in would change that, so why keep trying? 

When the opportunity I ultimately took to leave came up, I was very transparent about the offer, my frustrations, and what it would take for me to stay. The pay disparity at the new offer was 18% higher than my pay at the time, and I knew it was what I was worth. I told Blizzard that if they could match the offer, I would stay. The response was, "You should leave." That was, ultimately, a kindness (and honestly, the right advice). But it's a complicated feeling to be told what you aren't worth by a place where you've invested nearly a decade of your career.

There are many, many more stories I know I have repressed in order to simply try to move on and enjoy my work at my new place of employment. Anything I've put above is memorable enough to me that I'm confident to speak on it. 
 
Ultimately, I left Blizzard because I hit a point in my career where I knew I could no longer progress. 
  • I "wasn't ready for management" despite having been forced to manage my team previously due to frequent restructures and a constant revolving door of managers. 
  • When I had finally given up trying to explore other paths and "bite the bullet" to become a manager, I wasn't even considered. Blizzard instead hired another man externally to take over the team, someone I was also responsible for interviewing. This happened at least twice, that I can recall.
  • I regret putting myself in the position of "I don't want to be a manager" because I was told, so often by so many, that it was something I couldn't or shouldn't do. 
  • It should not have taken six years for me to drop "associate" from my title. 
  • I should not have felt like I needed to flee to another department to be happy, the efforts of which were also shut down with zero feedback on my applications. 
  • There was no way to make me happy in my role, because toxicity, particularly amongst the development teams, made my role often feel pointless. 
The designers and programmers and artists whom I were (and still am) friends with all felt similarly fearful or frustrated that they couldn't do anything about it. I know, so very well, that we were not alone; just powerless. 
 
There's a separate, yet related underlying issue to the misogyny at play here, and this is the best name I have for it: Developer Ego. Community Managers are supposed to be the lifeline to how your fans are feeling. We already get discredited for being "too emotional" about the game as community managers; it just gets amplified when you're a woman. I was tired of being unheard and disrespected, or having to willfully ignore the community I was dedicated to helping in order to toe around sensitive dev egos. 
 
That lack of humility plays a huge part in these issues. No one above you can ever be wrong. There was no room for ever making an apology even when a mistake had clearly been made, no matter how egregious. That is a toxic and unrealistic environment for everyone. 
 
I also want to reiterate: This isn't just a Blizzard problem. This is an industry problem. These issues aren't unique to Blizzard, and my peers across the industry all commiserate on the same experiences. This is especially true when it comes to dismissiveness around community, influencer, and social media management. Let's be clear - these are three different disciplines that require different skillsets, but often are expected to be done by the same person. It'd be like expecting your localization writer, copy editor, and narrative designer to be one person. Sure, they all work with words, but they don't do the same job.
 
I have very complex feelings about Blizzard. I'm the experienced, successful community manager I am today because of the work I did there. Seeing nearly a decade of work at Blizzard is something I'm certain still draws eyes to my resume. You get a piece of that Blizzard success by having worked there, and in exchange, they can treat you however they want. I have some particularly weird feelings about being the poster child for reinforcing the phrase "You will bleed Blizzard Blue for the rest of your life," because it's true—it really does become an inseparable part of you. It's indoctrination and pride, but now, it's tainted by a reflection and shame that I let myself be taken advantage of. 

Source: Nevalistis' Blog

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Going from a company whose feedback route is completely opaque to Wizards of the Coast at Hasbro that sends out surveys for every piece of content to test the reception. I hope she is happy there but as community lead she is clearly doing her job (I don't think D&D has had as wide acceptance among the very aggressive community at a truly wide age range as it has the last few years).

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So damn recognizable...

A "promotion" to a management role needs to be burned out of the Career Bible. The notion that someone who is a manager should earn more than the people they manage is such an outdated concept and deserves a proper dousing of kerosene. Most of the times the management position can be made redundant by splitting the job up into three parts:

- A senior role to train new team members.
- A facilitator who's trained and specialized in organizing people (read: provides supplies and scheduling) and who works for the team.
- An intermediary between multiple teams' facilitators and upper management who has actually trained to deal with corporate bullshit bureaucracy and needs to know next to nothing about the inner workings of any team.

Ever heard of an excellent surgeon being promoted to manager? A sportsman who won a championship and was promoted to coach? Don't waste talent by fitting them into outdated concepts of 'growth', it's such a bloody waste... Instead - novel concept alert! - make people do what they're good at and pay them properly for it!

Edited by Dicebar
grammar
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1 hour ago, Dicebar said:

So damn recognizable...

A "promotion" to a management role needs to be burned out of the Career Bible. The notion that someone who is a manager should earn more than the people they manage is such an outdated concept and deserves a proper dousing of kerosene. Most of the times the management position can be made redundant by splitting the job up into three parts:

- A senior role to train new team members.
- A facilitator who's trained and specialized in organizing people (read: provides supplies and scheduling) and who works for the team.
- An intermediary between multiple teams' facilitators and upper management who has actually trained to deal with corporate bullshit bureaucracy and needs to know next to nothing about the inner workings of any team.

Ever heard of an excellent surgeon being promoted to manager? A sportsman who won a championship and was promoted to coach? Don't waste talent by fitting them into outdated concepts of 'growth', it's such a bloody waste... Instead - novel concept alert! - make people do what they're good at and pay them properly for it!

You almost sound intelligent until one realizes you are trying to force puzzle pieces together that don't belong.

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8 hours ago, Lunestro said:

You almost sound intelligent until one realizes you are trying to force puzzle pieces together that don't belong.

An inability to see how puzzle pieces belong together and insulting someone else's intelligence? Charming.

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The one issue I have is:

  • Nevalistis said she was only promoted twice in her 6.5-year tenure in the community, and both times by her managers as they were leaving the team.

Being promoted twice in 6.5 years, or once every three years...isn't bad?    At least in the companies I've worked at which included a major video distributor, that frequency of promotion is actually very good.     I've seen people who've stayed at the same position for 10+ years despite being very competent.

But hearing how Activision was so scummy and dumb about the Diablo 4/Immortal announcement just reinforces the impression I've had on how their slow cultural takeover of Blizzard had done damage.

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1 hour ago, Migol said:

The one issue I have is:

  • Nevalistis said she was only promoted twice in her 6.5-year tenure in the community, and both times by her managers as they were leaving the team.

Being promoted twice in 6.5 years, or once every three years...isn't bad?    At least in the companies I've worked at which included a major video distributor, that frequency of promotion is actually very good.     I've seen people who've stayed at the same position for 10+ years despite being very competent.

But hearing how Activision was so scummy and dumb about the Diablo 4/Immortal announcement just reinforces the impression I've had on how their slow cultural takeover of Blizzard had done damage.

I think it really depends with how vertical the hierarchy of the organization is. In flat structures, promotion twice in seven years is probably better than normal. The thing is, Blizzard does not appear to have a flat structure; there are managers upon managers.

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On 8/7/2021 at 7:16 PM, Dicebar said:

So damn recognizable...

A "promotion" to a management role needs to be burned out of the Career Bible. The notion that someone who is a manager should earn more than the people they manage is such an outdated concept and deserves a proper dousing of kerosene. Most of the times the management position can be made redundant by splitting the job up into three parts:

- A senior role to train new team members.
- A facilitator who's trained and specialized in organizing people (read: provides supplies and scheduling) and who works for the team.
- An intermediary between multiple teams' facilitators and upper management who has actually trained to deal with corporate bullshit bureaucracy and needs to know next to nothing about the inner workings of any team.

Ever heard of an excellent surgeon being promoted to manager? A sportsman who won a championship and was promoted to coach? Don't waste talent by fitting them into outdated concepts of 'growth', it's such a bloody waste... Instead - novel concept alert! - make people do what they're good at and pay them properly for it!

2 promotions in 6 years. How many does she think she should have gotten. lol

Some people do the same job their whole lives and that's OK.

Stop acting like you have to be promoted to something else or you're being abused.

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Just from reviewing the letter it sounds as if Blizzard was following a similar method like Walmart.  Base on performance and merit during yearly evaluations can gain a slight payraise to that of a dime in hourly pay with permotions being very limited and most of the time out of reach for employees.  Walmart tends to stay within the min. wage if possible per state of operation.  Blizzard most likely tries to keep to the basic/min. salary if possible.  But expect the employee to work 80 hrs a week, no overtime pay, and harsh scrutinzation from their peers when the triple workload is not being met by company standards.  Basically setting the employee up for failure.  And I can imagine the frustration/stress that these employees went through and to top it off those that also were the target of sexual harassment.  

 

 

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On 8/8/2021 at 1:16 AM, Dicebar said:

Ever heard of an excellent surgeon being promoted to manager? A sportsman who won a championship and was promoted to coach? Don't waste talent by fitting them into outdated concepts of 'growth', it's such a bloody waste... Instead - novel concept alert! - make people do what they're good at and pay them properly for it!

Yes, excellent surgents get management positions in hospitals and sportsmen get to coach after their active careers. 

Your post reads like hate and your examples lack real world knowledge. 

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16 hours ago, CTEKK said:

Yes, excellent surgents get management positions in hospitals and sportsmen get to coach after their active careers. 

Your post reads like hate and your examples lack real world knowledge. 

My grandfather was a dean of medicine, and from my conversations with him I'm going to have to disagree with you on the surgeons. Good surgeons stay surgeons, while good managers have a business degree. There are three reasons for surgeons becoming managers; disability, greed (~4 years of education should not pay more than 8-10 years...), or their own managers were *filtered* and they want to do a better job.

Similarly, I do have to point out that athletes become coaches after their careers when they can no longer compete in their sport - as opposed to when they're good athletes. You don't make people who are good at what they do change their roles simply for the sake of allowing them to 'climb the career ladder'. And I doubt that you mean to imply that famous athletes earn more off the field than they do on it.

You're right in reading frustration in my post, though. I wouldn't call it hate, but still... I have spent the last 10 years in various roles optimizing organizations' workflows, and this topic is part of an all-too-common problem: managers overvaluing the contributions of managers. Reducing their input typically makes teams far more effective.

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      The ABK Workers Alliance commented specifically on Kotick's response to the article and announced an employee walkout:
      Jason Schreier of Bloomberg reports that the walkout is already fairly large:
      The Activision Blizzard board of directors has stated that they are standing by Kotick:
      ATVI Board of Directors (Source)
      SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 16, 2021-- The Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) Board of Directors released the following statement responding to recent media stories.
      “The Activision Blizzard Board remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry. Under Bobby Kotick's leadership the Company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent. The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.
      The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The Board remains confident in Bobby Kotick's leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.”
    • By Staff
      Activision Blizzard workers celebrate a huge victory today. The company has increased the minimum hourly rate for all temporary employees to $17 per hour. They will also receive 13 paid holidays each year, and more.
      This is "a result of collective action and there is still more work to do", according to Senior Test Analyst Jessica Gonzalez.
      Placeholder for tweet 1457888913394044937
    • By Staff
      Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal yesterday announced her departure from Blizzard Entertainment and here's her message to the community.
      (Source)
      To the Blizzard community,

      Over the last few months, many of us have been taking the time to ask ourselves how we can effect the most positive change in our workplace, in our games, and in our communities. 

      On a macro level, Mike Ybarra and I, along with the rest of Blizzard, have been navigating the important changes we must undertake in order to be known as the creative powerhouse that brought hundreds of millions of players into Azeroth, Sanctuary, and more, all while ensuring our workplace and game communities are truly inclusive, safe, and inviting to all. 

      On a micro level, as I’ve listened to the stories from people all over Blizzard and been inspired by their courage and conviction, I’ve been thinking about the potential of what I can do as an individual to create the most meaningful change. For the last 20 years of my career, I have loved developing games--they are my lifeblood. I also have been fortunate to find my passion and voice in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space along the way.

      Those of you who have played our games will know that sometimes our adventures can keep you on the quest you set out on, but sometimes, a new quest beckons us. 

      I want you to hear from me personally that I have made the decision to step away from co-leading Blizzard Entertainment and will transition to a new position before departing ABK at the end of the year. Effective immediately, Mike Ybarra will lead Blizzard. I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite--I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts. This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out. 

      ABK’s leadership is graciously offering their support for my decision and has worked with me on a plan to invest in the future of other women in the gaming industry, by agreeing to make a US $1 million grant to Women in Games International--a fantastic non-profit organization, where I am a board member, that cultivates and advances equality and diversity in the global games industry. This money will be used to fund skill-building and mentorship programs. 

      With my remaining time here, I will be transferring my responsibilities to Mike, and transitioning into a new role working closely with Activision Blizzard and WIGI to determine the first steps around how the grant will be utilized, and its structure. The partnership is full of potential and is another step in a long-term commitment to create better support, resources, and guidance to women in the gaming industry.

      Mike has been unbelievably supportive throughout my decision-making process around this move, and I have every confidence in him leading Blizzard. Mike and I have been working together to develop many of the actions we’ll be taking to continue making Blizzard a safer, stronger, and more inclusive workplace, and I know he plans on sharing some of those actions with you soon. 

      I wanted to tell the Blizzard community this personally because I want you to know I believe so strongly in Mike and the rest of Blizzard’s leadership both in terms of Blizzard’s culture and Blizzard’s games. Blizzard’s best days are ahead. I truly believe that. I also am hoping this letter helps you to think about what you can do to make everyone around you--no matter their gender, race, or identity--feel welcome, comfortable, and free to be themselves. 

      Thank you for the support you have shown our teams over the last few months. I know that your positive messages have helped our people tremendously during this time. 

      And to everyone at Blizzard, thank you--for your honesty, your belief in a better future, and your incredible work ethic, creativity, and passion. You inspired me to find my own path in championing the cause for equality and my hope is that you inspire our players to do the same. 
      Thank you again,
      Jen Oneal
    • By Starym
      Activision Blizzard held their third quarter earnings call for 2021 and we had some pretty big revelations, including the delays of Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, Blizzard's financial situation and more, so let's take a look at the highlights.
      Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 delayed: it seems very likely they will not be launching in 2022, as Activision Blizzard CFO Armin Zerza mentioned they will not be including the two games in their financial outlook for 2022. With the recent departures of the leads on both the games, this is perhaps expected, as Blizzard leader Mike Ybarra commented that the extra time will allow both development teams to expand and be able to follow up the games' launches with "substantial content releases".
      Blizzard had 26 million monthly active users, the exact same amount as in the second quarter. Blizzard's Q3 2021 ($493 million) revenue grew 20% compared to last year, mostly due to Diablo 2: Resurrected. D2R had the all-time highest first week of sales for a remaster for all of Activision Blizzard. Diablo: Immortal release is scheduled for Q1 2022. WoW is expected to deliver its highest engagement and net bookings for a non-expansion release year in a decade. The two most important financial industry stats: Revenue: $1.88 billion versus $1.88 billion expected. Earnings per share: $0.72 versus $0.70 expected. The Q3 results met analyst expectations and was a solid performance, the reported outlook for Q4 did not meet expectations.

      You can check out the full visual presentation here, or check out the press release with a lot more numbers below:
      Q3 Earnings (Source)
      SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 2, 2021-- Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced third-quarter 2021 results.
      “I’m pleased to report strong third quarter results ahead of our prior outlook,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “We are excited about this week’s Call of Duty launch and expect continued success in the fourth quarter. I want to thank our employees for their continued commitment to each other, the company, and our players. We look forward to sharing progress updates on our workplace initiatives, alongside our business performance.”
      Financial Metrics
       
        Q3
      (in millions, except EPS)
        2021
        Prior Outlook*
        2020
      GAAP Net Revenues
        $2,070
        $1,970
        $1,954
      Impact of GAAP deferralsA
        ($190)
        ($120)
        ($187)
       
         
         
         
      GAAP EPS
        $0.82
        $0.64
        $0.78
      Non-GAAP EPS
        $0.89
        $0.75
        $0.88
      Impact of GAAP deferralsA
        ($0.17)
        ($0.10)
        ($0.17)
       
         
         
          * Prior outlook was provided by the company on August 3, 2021 in its earnings release.
      Please refer to the tables at the back of this earnings release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.
      For the quarter ended September 30, 2021, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $2.07 billion, as compared with $1.95 billion for the third quarter of 2020. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $1.85 billion. GAAP operating margin was 40%. GAAP earnings per diluted share was $0.82, as compared with $0.78 for the third quarter of 2020. On a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 43% and earnings per diluted share was $0.89, as compared with $0.88 for the third quarter of 2020.
      For the quarter, operating cash flow was $521 million, as compared with $196 million for the third quarter of 2020. For the trailing twelve-month period, operating cash flow was $2.89 billion.
      Please refer to the tables at the back of this press release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.
      Operating Metrics
      For the quarter ended September 30, 2021, Activision Blizzard’s net bookingsB were $1.88 billion, as compared with $1.77 billion for the third quarter of 2020. In-game net bookingsC were $1.20 billion consistent with the third quarter of 2020.
      For the quarter ended September 30, 2021, overall Activision Blizzard Monthly Active Users (MAUs)D were 390 million.
      Commitment to a Safe, Inclusive Working Environment
      We are committed to becoming the most welcoming, inclusive company in our industry. We are taking further steps to advance our commitment with greater impact, transparency, and urgency.
      We are adding staff and resources to our ethics and compliance and employee relations teams. We are continuing to thoroughly investigate each and every claim and complaint that we receive. As a result of this process, more than 20 individuals have exited the company in recent months. We are implementing a zero-tolerance harassment policy across Activision Blizzard that will be applied consistently. Our goal is to have the strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employer. Based on feedback from employees, we are waiving required arbitration of future individual sexual harassment and discrimination claims. We have introduced the goal of increasing the percentage of women and non-binary people in our workforce by 50% within the next five years, to more than one-third across the entire company. We plan to invest an additional $250 million over the next 10 years in initiatives that foster expanded opportunities in gaming and technology for under-represented communities. To help us continue to recruit, retain and promote employees from all backgrounds and identities, we are implementing the requirement for a diverse slate of candidates for all full-time open positions. A review of 2020 U.S. pay equity at our company conducted by an independent firm showed that women on average earned slightly more than men for comparable work in 2020. We are committed to compensation remaining equitable for men and women performing comparable work in 2021, and beyond. In September we announced a comprehensive agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is subject to court approval, to strengthen policies and programs intended to further improve the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and related conduct. As part of the agreement, we will establish an $18 million fund to compensate those who have experienced such behavior at our company and elect to participate.
      The company continues to monitor the progress of its business units, franchise teams, and functional leaders with respect to workplace initiatives. We will continue to provide regular updates to all stakeholders.
      Selected Business Highlights
      Activision Blizzard’s third quarter results were above our outlook. Third quarter monthly active usersD were consistent with the year-ago level, even as regions continued to re-open, while net bookingsB and operating income grew year-over-year. This performance again illustrates the structural expansion that our talented and passionate teams have driven in our largest franchises as they created new ways for players to interact with our intellectual properties, including free-to-play experiences. We continue to increase investment in creative talent so that we can grow and delight the communities for each of our key franchises.
      Activision
      The Call of Duty® ecosystem sustained reach, engagement, and player investment well above levels seen prior to the introduction of free-to-play experiences across console, PC, and mobile. Activision segment revenue grew year-over-year to a new record on a year-to-date basis. Segment revenue was lower year-over-year in the third quarter due to the launch of Tony Hawk’sTM Pro SkaterTM 1 + 2 in the year ago quarter and declines in Call of Duty against a quarter that benefited from shelter-at-home mandates and the early ramp of WarzoneTM. Activision had 119 million MAUsD in the third quarter. MAUsD in the Call of Duty franchise were consistent year-over-year on console and PC and grew on mobile. On console and PC, Call of Duty MAUsD and time spent exhibited very similar retention from Q2 to Q3 as our experiences in prior years. In-game player investment on console and PC remained well above the level seen prior to the Warzone launch, at approximately three times the level of Q3 2019. Strong conversion from free-to-play drove premium sales higher than in any third quarter prior to the launch of Warzone. For Call of Duty Mobile, net bookings grew over 40% year-over-year in the third quarter, driven by double digit growth in the West and a continued contribution from the game in China. Call of Duty: Vanguard will release on November 5, followed by the roll out of Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific, the biggest update to the Warzone experience since launch, on December 2. Blizzard
      Blizzard segment revenue grew 20% year-over-year in the third quarter, driven by the successful launch of Diablo® II: ResurrectedTM. Blizzard had 26 million MAUsD in the third quarter. For Diablo, our plan to enter an era of unprecedented content scale for the franchise has experienced a strong start with the September release of Diablo II: Resurrected, the return of one of the most acclaimed titles in PC gaming history. First week sales of the title were the highest recorded for a remaster from the company. On mobile, Diablo® ImmortalTM is in public testing, and remains on track for release in the first half of next year. World of Warcraft® reach and engagement continues to benefit from the combination of the Modern game and Classic under a single subscription. World of Warcraft is on track to deliver its strongest engagement and net bookings outside of a Modern expansion year in a decade. Hearthstone® net bookings were stable year-over-year in the third quarter. In October, the team launched MercenariesTM, an innovative role-playing mode that gives existing, returning and new Hearthstone players an entirely new way to play the game. King
      King segment revenue grew 22% year-over-year to a new quarterly record, with very strong year-over-year trends for both in-app purchases and advertising. King had 245 million MAUsD in the third quarter. Hours played across the King portfolio grew year-over-year in the third quarter, with players responding positively to a more frequent cadence of compelling in-game content and events for key titles. Payer numbers grew by a double-digit percentage versus the year ago quarter. In-game net bookings for Candy CrushTM grew over 20% year-over-year, with Candy Crush once again the top-grossing game franchise in the U.S. app stores1. At the end of the third quarter King launched the Candy Crush All Stars U.S. tournament which has driven meaningful increases in installs, game rounds played and in-app purchases in recent weeks. King has been accelerating and refining content delivery in Farm HeroesTM, its second largest franchise. This work continued to bear fruit in the third quarter, and in-game net bookings have grown around 20% year-over-year on a year-to-date basis. King’s advertising business grew robustly, with quarterly revenue growing sequentially and year-over-year to a new high. Both volume and pricing grew strongly year-over-year, benefiting from the team’s growing relationships with demand partners and the ongoing ramp of new categories of advertisers. Company Outlook
      (in millions, except EPS)
        GAAP
      Outlook
       
      Non-GAAP
      Outlook
       
      Impact of GAAP
      deferralsA
      CY 2021
         
       
       
       
       
      Net Revenues
        $8,660
       
      $8,660
       
      ($10)
      EPS
        $3.27
       
      $3.70
       
      $0.06
      Fully Diluted Shares
        784
       
      784
       
       
       
         
       
       
       
       
      Q4 2021
         
       
       
       
       
      Net Revenues
        $2,020
       
      $2,020
       
      $763
      EPS
        $0.54
       
      $0.62
       
      $0.67
      Fully Diluted Shares
        785
       
      785
       
       
      Net bookingsB are expected to be $8.65 billion for 2021 and $2.78 billion for the fourth quarter of 2021.
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