Activision Blizzard buoyed after Modern Warfare II sets quarterly sales record

Activision Blizzard delivered record quarterly net bookings after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II also became a record breaker.

Activision Blizzard delivered record quarterly net bookings after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II achieved the highest opening-quarter sell-through in franchise history.

According to the company's fiscal results for the year-ended December 2022, fourth quarter net bookings increased by 43 percent year-on-year to $3.57 billion. Annual net bookings also rose to $8.51 billion across FY2022, an increase on the $8.35 billion the company delivered in FY2021.

Digging into those numbers, Activision Blizzard said it boasted 389 million monthly active users (MAUs) at the end of the fiscal year, and claimed it has created a foundation for "strong financial performance in 2023" after key franchises hit the ground running.

For instance, the performance of Call of Duty across console, PC, and mobile saw Activision revenue and operating income increase by roughly 60 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

"Following its October launch, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II delivered the highest opening-quarter sell-through in franchise history," reads the report. "The strong performance was broad-based, and digital sales were particularly robust on PC and in Asia-Pacific after Activision expanded distribution of the title to Steam's PC digital storefront.

"At the end of the fourth quarter, cumulative hours played were the highest in franchise history for a premium title at this stage of its release."

Activision Blizzard noted that franchise reach and engagement also received a shot in the arm after the November 2022 release of Warzone 2.0, the free-to-play Call of Duty battle royale mode—although it added that year-over-year engagement growth in the free title has "moderated" since it launched.

Call of Duty Mobile net bookings also delivered a new quarterly record after growing double-digits year-over-year, and with the franchise in good health, Activision has confirmed it intends to release another mainline entry in 2023.

"Across the Call of Duty franchise, our teams are working to amplify the success of the fourth quarter, with 2023 plans including even more engaging live services across platforms and the next full annual premium release in the blockbuster series," said the company.

A bounce at Blizzard

Turning our attention to Blizzard, the World of Warcraft maker saw revenue and operating income increase by approximately 90 percent year-on-year, with the Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo franchises growing year-over-year to deliver more than $100 million in net bookings.

"In the Warcraft franchise, World of Warcraft delivered significant year-over-year growth in reach, engagement and net bookings in the fourth quarter following the September release of Wrath of the Lich King Classic and the November launch of Dragonflight," continued the fiscal report.

"While early Dragonflight sales have not reached the level of the prior expansion, community feedback on the title has been positive. Blizzard has announced plans to deliver substantially more follow-on content for the expansion than in the past, and post-launch subscriber retention in the West is higher than recent expansions. Elsewhere in the Warcraft franchise, mobile title Warcraft: Arclight Rumble continues to progress well through regional testing."

Overwatch 2 apparently hit the ground running after launching in October 2022, with the title's free-to-play model delivering the highest quarterly figures for player numbers and hours played in franchise history. "Player investment is also off to a strong start, with fourth quarter in-game net bookings at the highest level to date for Overwatch," the report added.

Activision Blizzard said Diablo Immortal on PC was another growth contributor, and described engagement and player investment as "stable" heading into the next year.

Addressing Blizzard's recent breakup with NetEase, which resulted in key titles being shut down in China, Activision Blizzard said it expects the business to overcome that hurdle to achieve "very strong" year-on-year growth driven by the launch of Diablo IV and live operations performance. The company added that "Blizzard remains focused on finding alternative ways to serve the community in China."

As we move into the next fiscal year, Activision Blizzard won't be sharing detailed financial guidance because of its pending $68.7 billion acquisition by Microsoft, which has yet to be approved by key regulators in the United States, EU, and UK.

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