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Activision Blizzard Second Quarter 2016 Results Recap: IW preorders down, in-game content sales increased

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Activision Blizzard announced their second quarter 2016 results earlier and revealed some interesting details about what’s been happening in the company over the last few months. In this post, we recap all of the things they talked about.

The first thing they revealed was that Call of Duty in-game content sales were at a record high this year, driven by Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 DLC map packs and Supply Drops. They revealed that in-game content sales has doubled since last year for Call of Duty.

From May 2016 through August 2016, Activision Blizzard (the entire company, across all of the publisher’s titles) made over $1 billion just from in-game content sales. The press release notes that in-game content refers to DLC Map Packs, Loot Boxes, Supply Drops, and more. Activision also confirmed that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 continues to be the best selling next-generation console title life to date, according to NPD data.

In regards to Call of Duty esports, Activision announced that the Call of Duty World League had over 33 million views accumulated for the Stage 1 events, which is a 5 times increase compared to last year. Activision states that they anticipate that the upcoming Call of Duty World League Championship (set to take place September 1-4 at Call of Duty XP), which will feature a $2 million prize pool, will be the most watched Call of Duty esports event to date.

In regards to Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Activision CEO confirmed that overall preorder numbers are down this year compared to last year. They stated that the company has made marketing adjustments, including having a huge event at Call of Duty XP to reveal Infinite Warfare multiplayer and talk more about the entire game. Activision CEO said that the team at Infinity Ward is extremely excited and proud of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

Activision also confirmed that the preorders for Call of Duty Infinite Warfare’s collector’s editions (Legacy, Digital Legacy, Digital Deluxe, and Legacy Pro) are higher than any Collector’s Edition in Call of Duty, thanks to the editions including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. Activision CEO said that “Modern Warfare Remastered is the best bonus content we’ve ever offered.” They also revealed that the digital editions are doing well in terms of preorder numbers.

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Activision CEO followed up to talk more about the response to Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. He said that “the more people see, the more people are getting excited,” revealing that the title won 25+ awards at E3 and has received the most positive response from press than ever before. Activision has been promoting that GameInformer awarded the title ‘Best Shooter’ at E3 across its site and social media. He also talked about the fact that, at this time last year, all of the modes of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 were revealed, which resulted in higher preorder numbers at the time, and the title also had a beta as a preorder incentive. It appears that Activision believes Call of Duty XP will help give players many more details about Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, which might help increase the preorder numbers.

For all of Activision’s (only Activision titles, which includes Call of Duty, Destiny, Skylanders, and more), the number of active players reached a record high for this time of the year — 49 million players. Activision continues to state that monthly active users for Call of Duty has been the highest this year than ever before.

Activision also re-confirmed that the fourth DLC Map Pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will launch after the Call of Duty XP event, which takes place September 2-4, first on PlayStation 4. The company stated that fans at Call of Duty XP can go hands on with DLC 4, alongside Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.

SOURCE: Activision Blizzard (and Activision Slides)

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Activision issuing “hardware bans” to thwart Warzone cheaters

Activision have confirmed that they are handing out “hardware bans” to banned cheaters who keep making fresh accounts.

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Call of Duty Warzone gameplay

Cheaters and hackers have plagued Call of Duty: Warzone since its launch, but on top of account bans, Activision has confirmed that they are issuing hardware bans to thwart repeat offenders.

Cheaters have been a thorn in both players’ and developers’ sides since Warzone launched in 2020. It has been common to run into players blatantly wall-hacking and aim-botting, ruining the game for casual players and pros alike.

Raven Software has been providing regular updates on how many cheaters have been banned, and Activision recently confirmed that 475,000 permabans have been issued since Warzone’s launch. The likely reason why this number is so high is that Warzone is free-to-play. It’s widely believed that even if a cheater’s account gets banned, they can simply create a new one and carry on as if nothing happened.

Activision is aware of this issue and player’s concerns and released an in-depth update on their anti-cheat progress on April 12.

Because so many players have been concerned that account bans are ineffective, Call of Duty staff responded to this, saying that “Removing cheaters and taking away their ability to move to alternate accounts is a key focus for the security teams.”

They confirmed that if you’re cheating, not only could you be unknowingly downloading malware to your system, you could also receive a hardware ban.

To make sure players don’t keep creating fresh accounts to cheat with, Activision said, “We do issue hardware bans against repeat, or serial, cheaters. This is an important part of our effort to combat repeat offenders.”

This means that players who receive a hardware ban will be permanently locked out and won’t be able to simply create a new, free account and go back to their cheating ways.

Helicopters flying to Warzone's Verdansk Stadium

Activision also confirmed that not only are they targeting individual accounts with cheats installed, but also “the commercial market of cheat providers and resellers.” They revealed that they have recently banned “45,000 fraudulent, black market accounts used by repeat offenders.”

Cheaters will likely still make their way into your Warzone sessions, but Activision is making sure it’s continuously more risky and difficult to do.

In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how to spot cheaters in Warzone so you can assist Activision by reporting these players.

Image Credit: Activision

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Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate

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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.

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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.

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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.

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