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Activision Blizzard reports 21% growth in net bookings on strong sales amid lockdowns

·Technology Editor
·3 min read
In this article:
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Activision Blizzard (ATVI), publisher of games like “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch,” reported its Q1 2020 earnings on Tuesday, with net bookings jumping 21% year-over-year, as the company saw a significant spike in demand amid lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Net bookings are equal to net revenue excluding deferrals.

Here are the most important numbers from the gaming giant’s report, as well as how they compared to analysts’ expectations as compiled by Bloomberg.

  • Net Bookings: $1.52 billion versus $1.33 billion expected.

  • Earnings per share: $0.65 versus $0.59 expected.

Activision’s stock was up 5% in after hours trading.

The quarter’s performance has pushed Activision Blizzard to revise its 2020 full year guidance up from $6.45 billion to $6.8 billion. Gaming has become a major outlet for consumers amid coronavirus lockdowns with game giants ranging from Microsoft to Steam reporting a heavy increase in users.

“In the face of so many difficulties, our employees have made certain that the joy, the engagement, and the benefits of gaming remain an effective way to help keep our 400 million players around the world connected and safe,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement following the earnings release.

Drop into a 150-player free-for-all with 'Call of Duty: Warzone.' I've been playing this almost every night to stay in touch with my friends, and, my god, it's fun. (Image: Activision Blizzard)
'Call of Duty: Warzone' has amassed 60 million players since it launched on March 10. (Image: Activision Blizzard)

Activision Blizzard saw massive gains in users for its “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” title during the quarter, boasting its best unit sell-through outside of a launch quarter. Part of that is thanks to the company’s launch of “Call of Duty: Warzone,” a free-to-download title that not only generates revenue through in-game purchases, but can also funnel players to the full “Modern Warfare” title.

“Warzone” has been a massive win for Activision Blizzard, and a particularly addictive game for my friends and me, pulling in a whopping 60 million players since it launched March 10. Impressively, the company says that “Modern Warfare” has had more players from launch to date than any other game in the franchise.

The company also reported strong gains in its “World of Warcraft” franchise with new, and, importantly, returning players joining the classic massively multiplayer role-playing game. “Overwatch,” the company’s team-based shooter game, also saw growth in the quarter.

At King, Activision Blizzard’s mobile arm, the company saw 75% year-over-year growth in net advertising bookings. Lockdowns may have also spurred “Candy Crush” players to play more game rounds in the title than at any time since the King acquisition in 2016.

Moving forward, the company says its development cycle is largely on track, thanks to the digital nature of the gaming business.

Editor’s note: EPS has been updated to $0.65.

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Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at danielphowley@protonmail.com or dhowley@yahoofinance.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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