Activision Blizzard has announced that the company has generated over $956 million in revenue from microtransactions in Q1 2020, meaning January – March.
The number highlights the success of the in-game content in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the release of Call of Duty: Warzone.
“Our goal to connect the world through epic entertainment is more important to our players than ever before,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “We delivered strong financial results for the first quarter, and are raising our full year outlook. I have been awestruck by the strength of our employees and their families during this difficult time. Whether managing healthcare or childcare, performing public service or community service, our teams around the world have shown ingenuity and resilience. 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.”
In-game net bookings were $956 million, as compared with $794 million for the first quarter of 2019.
Activision Blizzard also says that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, from launch to date, has now sold more copies and has more players online than any other Call of Duty title to date.
The company also revealed that Call of Duty: Warzone is now at 60 million players to date, since its launch on March 11, 2020. Activision says in-game content revenue doubled year over year in Modern Warfare compared to Black Ops 4 in Q1 2019.
- Activision had 102 million MAUsD in the first quarter.
- Call of Duty: Warzone launched on March 10, 2020 and has reached over 60 million players to date.
- Life-to-date, Modern Warfare has sold through more units and has more players than any prior Call of Duty title at this point after its release.
- In the first quarter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® unit sell-through was the highest for the franchise outside of a launch quarter. Following substantial year-over-year growth versus the prior title in January and February, unit sell-through accelerated in March, driven by upgrades from Warzone as well as rising demand amidst shelter-at-home conditions.
- Also in the first quarter, Modern Warfare in-game net bookings more than doubled year-over-year versus Black Ops 4.
Activision also highlighted that Call of Duty: Mobile continues to see success:
- Call of Duty Mobile continued to build on last October’s breakout launch with new content, features and events aimed at optimizing engagement, retention and player investment.The game saw increased reach and engagement in March, driven by an increased cadence of compelling content and events as well as shelter-at-home tailwinds.
Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate
A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.
DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.
Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.
The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.
“We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.
Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.
Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.
Activision has not commented on this information as of now.
Investment group calls out Activision for CEO payout
Activision Blizzard’s CEO continues to rake in bonus after bonus, and now investment firms are questioning the decisions.
An investment firm, CtW, issued a statement report directed at Activision for upcoming bonus pay for their CEO, Bobby Kotick, which is valued at a remarkable $200 million.
The report states that an SEC filing and agreement between Activision Blizzard CEO and the board of directors of the company will allow the CEO to receive a bonus pay of $200 million at the end of this year.
Per the investment group, as released to GameSpot, a loophole created within Bobby Kotick’s employee agreement allows him to claim full bonus payout for previous years regardless of the company’s performance. This loophole is described in the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision in Kotick’s employment agreement. He can receive a full performance equity payout from previous years – 2017 and on. That is valued at almost $200 million, which is set to be paid out in cash upon the end date of the incentive provision.
Investment group CtW issued a scathing statement over this, as the company just this week laid off less than 2% of its workforce, which is less than 190 people for “restructuring” purposes. The lay offs impacted Activision Blizzard esports department, alongside the company’s King division.
“While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” director of executive compensation research, Michael Varner, said. “There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company’s stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick’s leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions.“
Bobby Kotick already makes $30 million a year from Activision thanks to his base salary and bonus yearly pay. He’s one of gaming’s highest paid executives. Activision continues to report record profits with 2020 being the company’s biggest year yet.
Activision has not commented on the latest developments on this payout.
Activision Blizzard sued over Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara
Activision Blizzard has been sued by a writer and photographer over using his model photography design for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara.
The new lawsuit, as noted by Polygon, was filed in a California court against Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, Feb 2.
Clayton Haugen filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Activision alleging the company used and modeled Mara’s look after one his own characters, Cade Janus. The character is played by the same model used for Mara, Alex Zedra. He posted an image of the character on his Instagram.
Haugen first debuted Cade Janus character is his novel, November Renaissance. “The central character in November Renaissance is Cade Janus, a female vigilante and pariah figure. Haugen created this distinct and multidimensional female protagonist for his story because he believed that November Renaissance could be a successful film and the unique female lead would distinguish it from an over saturated market of action and science fiction movies.”
The lawsuit argues that Activision and Infinity Ward used the same model and photographer to create the Mara character in game, without ever asking for his permission. The complaint also states that Janus’ photography was shown in the studio’s walls during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare photo-op.
“In addition to hiring the same talent, they also hired the same makeup professional who had prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs,” the complaint reads. “They instructed the makeup professional to prepare the talent exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension.”
The Operator Mara was introduced into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in December 2019 as part of the Season One Battle Pass. The lawsuit alleges that Activision, without permission, used this character in all of their marketing material for Season One, including the Season One roadmap.
In the extensive filing of the copyright infringement, Haugen showcases the similarities between his character and the Operator Mara’s look and feel, as seen below:
Activision Blizzard has not commented on the lawsuit at this time. It’s not clear when this will go to trial.
You can read the full lawsuit here.
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