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Activision Rides on Franchise Strength & New COD Release

Aniruddha Ganguly

Activision Blizzard ATVI is benefiting from franchise strength, exciting content and new releases.

Strong popularity of franchises like Call of Duty (COD) and Hearthstone is expected to boost in-games spending, thereby driving net bookings and top-line growth in the near term.

Moreover, Blizzard’s subscriber growth is primarily driven by franchises such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch.

Further, the King division is benefiting from strength in Candy Crush franchise’s popular games like Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Friends Saga.

Additionally, the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is expected to drive user growth ahead of the holiday season.

Notably, shares of Activision have returned 21.3% on a year-to-date basis, compared with the industry’s rally of 19.9%.

Year-to-date Price Performance


Battle Pass to Boost COD Revenues

Activision recently launched the Season One Battle Pass for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, along with other free content for the season.

The new Battle Pass will allow players to spend 1000 CoD points (in-game currency) or about $10 on new unlockable content, which includes up to 100 tiers of customization content like new Operator Skins, Weapon Blueprints, Watches and more.

The free rewards include 300 CoD points, two weapons, three weapon blueprints and some charms, emblems and stickers. Four instant bonus rewards are also unlocked when the premium pass is purchased. These include two operator skins, a watch and a double XP token.

Notably, the battle pass replaces the game’s previous Loot Box system, which was not well received by players. The Battle Pass is a gamer friendly method of monetizing games and definitely a step in the right direction.

Major games like Apex Legends, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite and Dota 2 have all benefited from the adoption of the Battle Pass model.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare An Instant Hit

Per Activision, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare topped more than $600 million in sales within the first three days of its release. Moreover, the game has more total players and total hours played than any Call of Duty opening release in the last six years.

Thus, the game’s large player base makes it well positioned to benefit from the rollout of the Battle Pass, which is likely to boost Activision’s top line in the near term.

However, Activision faces significant competition from the likes of Take Two Interactive Software TTWO, Zynga ZNGA and Electronic Arts EA, among others.

EA recently launched NBA Live 20, Plants vs. Zombies, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Moreover, Take Two Interactive’s Sid Meier’s Civilization IV and Borderlands have also gained popularity. This is expected to intensify competition in the video gaming space, prior to the upcoming holiday season.

Activision Blizzard currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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