Activision Blizzard has released financial results for its first quarter in 2023 – the period ending 31 March 2023 – revealing major growth in multiple business sectors. Net revenue for the company grew 35% year-on-year, from US $1.77 billion in Q1 2022 to US $2.38 billion in Q1 2023, reportedly driven by the enduring popularity of Call of Duty, preorders for Diablo 4, and another record quarter for Candy Crush developer and publisher, King.
Operating income experienced the biggest bump, growing 70% year-on-year.
Given the tumultuous few months Activision Blizzard has experienced, in which the company was forced to split attention between upcoming new releases like Diablo 4, and the ongoing investigation into its planned acquisition by Microsoft, the strong results are fairly surprising.
According to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, the robustness of the company is largely down to its games offering, which continues to grow.
‘In our 33rd year, Activision Blizzard is performing exceptionally well. Every one of our key intellectual properties continues to grow year-over-year, with Call of Duty once again a key driver of growth,’ Kotick said in the latest Activision Blizzard investor report. ‘Mobile net bookings grew double digits including another record quarter for King. Pre-sales for Diablo IV are strong. And none of this would be possible without our people, who deliver excellence for our players every single day.’
In what appears to be a swift response to the recent decision by the UK Competition and Markets Authority to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Kotick also expressed a firm belief that the deal will go ahead, transforming the company in the future.
‘We remain confident that our deal with Microsoft benefits competition, consumers, and job creation in markets around the world, especially in the UK,’ Kotick said. ‘The CMA’s report today does not reflect these realities, and we will work aggressively with Microsoft to reverse it on appeal.’
Regardless of progress on this appeal, it does appear Activision Blizzard is currently in a significant position, buoyed by its major franchises.
World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2 both maintained a loyal player base during the company’s first financial quarter, with the report noting significant retention and ‘consistent player investment’ in Overwatch 2. Diablo 4 also attracted high engagement and strong pre-sales, likely as a result of its ongoing beta sessions, and player enthusiasm for the long-running franchise.
On the Activision side of the pond, Call of Duty drove plenty of growth, thanks to multiplayer modes like Warzone 2.0, which have had a ‘positive impact on engagement’ and the overall appeal of the Call of Duty franchise.
Going forward, the company will turn its attention to strengthening its flagship games and their respective player bases, while also continuing to argue in favour of its acquisition by Microsoft. Should this deal go through upon appeal, we expect to see major changes begin to impact Activision Blizzard over the coming financial year.