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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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 10.28.32 PM

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)

Activision

Sledgehammer Games open new UK Studio to support CoD: Vanguard seasons

Sledgehammer Games have announced they are opening a new studio in the United Kingdom to support Vanguard’s live seasons.

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The developers of the upcoming Call of Duty: Vanguard, Sledgehammer Games, have announced they will be expanding with a new studio in Guildford, UK.

Sledgehammer Games has grown drastically over the past couple of years, opening a new studio in Melbourne, Australia in 2019, hiring 150 new people to the team in 2020, and opening another new studio in Toronto in May.

With only a few weeks until Call of Duty: Vanguard’s launch, Sledgehammer Games has now announced they’re opening another studio in Guildford, England, to support Vanguard’s live seasons and “future projects.

Call of Duty Vanguard character using 1911

Sledgehammer Games announced on October 14 that they’re growing yet again with a new studio in Guildford, which will support the existing studios in the Bay Area, Melbourne, and Toronto.

“I’m just really excited to bring our studio brand to the UK, along with the incredible franchise we get to work on,” said Andy Wilson, COO of Sledgehammer Games.

“It’s another opportunity to do our own small part to grow the industry, in a place where there’s a huge number of talented developers. As we have done in our other locations, we will be looking to build partnerships with schools and universities to help nurture and grow the next generation of talent. It’s not just about finding people who already work in the industry, it’s about providing pathways for those who are looking to get in. I remember that daunting feeling very well and it makes me happy to be providing opportunity, especially as we emerge from a historic pandemic.” 

Sledgehammer is looking for team members in various roles, including Technical Artists, Senior Level Designers, and VFX Artists.

They said they are looking for “various levels of seniority” but will also be “prepared to create roles when great talent comes along.”

This news comes soon after Activision officially announced their new kernel-level anti-cheat software, RICOCHET, which may even detect Cronus users.

Expect more Operators, maps, weapons, and more from each season of Call of Duty: Vanguard, with the first bringing a new Pacific-themed Warzone map.

Source: Sledgehammer Games

Image Credit: Sledgehammer Games

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Blizzard Chief Legal Officer resigns as Activision Blizzard lawsuit controversy continues

Turmoil at Activision Blizzard continues as new investigations & details surface on the harassment lawsuit.

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The turmoil over the lawsuit for Activision Blizzard continues as a high profile executive of the company has announced their departure.

Blizzard Entertainment’s Chief Legal Officer, Claire Hart, has shared on her LinkedIn that she’s left the company on Friday, September 17.

Hart said in her message on LinkedIn that “the past three years have been full of unexpected twists and turns, but I feel honored to have worked with and met so many great people at Blizzard and across the Activision Blizzard businesses.”

She did not comment on whether her departure was related to what was happening at the company currently. Activision Blizzard also declined to comment beyond confirming her departure.

The news of her departure comes as this week the company confirmed new investigations by the SEC over the company’s handling of the lawsuit scandal.

This week, the situation heated up as Activision Blizzard is now under investigation by the SEC for potentially misleading investors over the brevity of the lawsuit and harassment that occurred at the company.

Activision Blizzard confirmed that they are cooperating with the SEC as part of their investigation into the company.

The lawsuit from California State, which surfaced in July, primarily focused on Blizzard Entertainment’s harassment and scandal issues, including sexual harassment, inequality amongst staff pay, and more issues.

Blizzard’s President of J. Allen Brack was the first executive to leave the company, resigning at the end of July. He was replaced by Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal as the new co-leaders of Blizzard Entertainment.

So far, Activision Blizzard has refused to met employee’s demands to chart a better future for the company. An employee group, A Better ABK, has been formed to provide their feedback to the executive team.

In other news in regards to Blizzard, the Executive Producer of Overwatch 2 is departing Blizzard this week.

Chacko Sonny, who was highly respected at Blizzard and seen as the person to chart Overwatch’s future following Jeff Kaplan’s departure, told staff in an email that he’s leaving, per Bloomberg. Sonny was perviously one the masterminds behind Call of Duty ELITE service back in 2011.

We’ll continue to update as the situation unfolds.

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Activision Blizzard provides update on workplace initiatives as US government opens investigation

Activision Blizzard is now being investigated by the SEC over sexual misconduct and discrimination allegations, as fallout from initial lawsuit continues.

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The fallout on Activision Blizzard over the initial revelations of workplace harassment at the company continues as the company is now facing new legal challenges from U.S government agencies.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has issued a report stating that the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Committee, opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard recently over the workplace harassment and pay inequality issues.

The SEC has also subpoenaed Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to appear in court, along with several other Activision Blizzard senior executives. Specific names beyond Kotick were not shared.

The SEC is investigating whether Activision Blizzard’s failure to provide proper information in regards to the harassment and inequality situation prior to it becoming public via the California state lawsuit on July 21, 2021 caused investors to lose money over a drop in the company’s stock prices.

The WSJ states that, per documents and files they’ve reviewed, the SEC is asking for information dating back to 2019.

The agency is specifically inquiring about the communications of senior executives over the harassment and diversity situation and what decisions were made at that time.

Activision Blizzard’s Chief Communications Officer, Helaine Klasky, confirmed to WSJ that the SEC is investigating the company and confirmed they are cooperating with the SEC.

In addition to the SEC, the WSJ reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been investigating Activision Blizzard separately since May 2020 over workplace misconduct and discrimination.

Per reports, Activision Blizzard and the agency are in talks over a settlement agreement which would see the company pay millions of dollars in fines.

Activision Blizzard has been under fire since the California DEFH lawsuit came to light on July 21, 2021.

Employees of the company formed a group, known as A Better ABK, to list their demands and how they want to proceed forward with the company, following a company wide walkout in July. So far, the company’s executives have not met their demands.

Activision Blizzard provides update

Since these new investigations have come to light, Activision Blizzard has issued a statement revealing some progress that the company claims to have made over the last two months.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “We are deeply committed to making Activision Blizzard one of the best, most inclusive places to work anywhere. There is absolutely no place anywhere in our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind. While we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past workplace issues, we also continue to move ahead with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the very best place to work. We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner.”

Activision Blizzard confirmed investigations are underway by the SEC and the EEOC, which were reported by the WSJ. The company says that they are “cooperating” with the investigations.

Kotick also said that the Company continues to productively engage with regulators, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) with the goal of improving its workplace policies and procedures and ensuring compliance.

The Company is actively engaged in continued discussions with the EEOC and has cooperated with the EEOC’s investigation concerning certain employment practices. It also confirmed that it is complying with a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) subpoena issued to the Company and several current and former employees and executives regarding disclosures on employment matters and related issues. The Company is confident in its prior disclosures and is cooperating with the SEC’s investigation.

In addition, Activision Blizzard states that they have made several changes to the company and the company’s culture. They state that there have been many exits from the company and have “refreshed” their HR team.

Activision Blizzard recently announced the hiring of Julie Hodges as their new Chief People Officer, who will be responsible for HR. Hodges begins her role on Sept. 21. She replaces the current head of HR, who has left the company.

Activision Blizzard has made a number of important improvements including significant changes to personnel, exiting a number of employees, and expanding compliance resources. In addition, the Company has refreshed its HR organization and, this week, will welcome a new Chief People Officer, Julie Hodges, who joins the Company from The Walt Disney Company. The Company has also expanded training, performance management, and anti-harassment resources.

We’ll continue to provide updates on the situation with Activision Blizzard.

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