Activision Blizzard News and Updates

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, September 1, 2011

Notes taken from the Activision Blizzard Analyst Day [Source]:

* Introductory music for Kotick was hilarious. "PLEASE WELCOME.. *intense energizing action music*.. BOB-BY KOOOO-TICK!!!!"

* Kotick used the term "game changer" which was a pun that wasn't supposed to be a pun. I am disappoint.

* Apparently, only has "15 Million (+) Monthly Active Users". Doesn't anyone else find that very low? This includes all Diablo players, StarCraft 1 + 2 players, WoW Starter Accounts, and World of Warcraft (including WoW China) active players. The ones that have B.Net accounts anyways (which is required for SC2, WoW and Starter Accounts).. but 15 million? That's it? Based on their vanity figures, I had thought it would be closer to 25-30 million at least. Since Starcraft 2 has 4-5 million active B.Net accounts right now, that only leaves 10-11 million players for the rest of their franchises. Guess that confirms Daeity's previous estimates regarding REAL PLAYERS versus "Subscriptions". :)

In September of 2002, B.Net had 11 million active users. And in September of 2004, they had 12 million active users. [Source]

So, B.Net Monthly Active Users has only increased about 3 million in the past 7 years. Wow.

* Activision boldly claimed that COD has more players (30 million unique players) than any Facebook game, and higher engagement than all top Facebook games. Once again, these are vanity figures and don't reflect actual active players and could have just been registered users.

But they're wrong. As of Feb. 1, 2011 CityVille had ~98.5 million MAU and Farmville had ~53 million MAU. Those are ACTIVE USERS, not just registered users.

What statistics did they even compare to?

* Activision claimed that their preorders for COD: MW3 are significantly higher than previous games and all other competitors. This is old news though. Based on their statements, MW3 preorders should be at least 7 million.

* The Skylanders transmedia MMO is targeting the "37 million online and gaming households with children aged 6-12". They received this statistics from the "2011 Gamer Census Data" but I couldn't locate this anywhere online. Maybe an internally researched census?

Skylanders is basically Pokemon candy cigarettes intended to get children hooked before being introduced to "adult cigarettes".. that is, Call of Duty. Gotta get them when they're young.

* There are about 100 developers working on the new Halo MMO right now. They're also building their own gaming service portal for the game (a "" for Halo).

* Mike Morhaime was up next. Mentioned that they have 4,500 employees across 10 global offices. 800 of those employees are developers. The rest, as you know, are Customer Service.

* Mike detailed some other Blizzard vanity figures:

Warcraft franchise had 20.5 million sales, Starcraft had 16 million sales, Diablo had 20.5 million sales.

Blizzcon 2010 had over 25,000 attendees and over 500,000 viewers paid for the virtual ticket. Their Facebook page has over 1 million users following it.

* They're working on "Blizzard DOTA" and still working on the Marketplace for B.Net.

* Made some very interesting remarks about "nonlinear subscriber growth" and "erosion of player base." Nonlinear growth meaning negative growth but stated in a positive light. He mentioned that subscriber numbers are impacted by seasonality and new content, but that they're working on increasing retention initiatives and new regions to expand their service. It just sort of came out of the blue too, he didn't talk about subscription changes. These comments worried a lot of the attendees.. it's like he's preparing them for low subscriber counts at their next quarterly meeting.

* Continuing with the low subscriber number, he mentioned that NetEase is working on penetrating their Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in China. But there's risk involved, and their computer systems and IGR (Internet Game Rooms) are built for less performance heavy games like WoW. :)

* They've seen a 60% increase in new account creation due to the new World of Warcraft Starter Edition. Can't wait to see if they modify their "Subscriber" definition.

* The Diablo 3 Beta will be going into beta later this month. It will be starting during the last week or so, with beta invites going out at least 1-2 weeks in advance. So, Mid-Sept beta invites..

* Rob Pardo said that "Loot = BIG PART OF DIABLO". WOW has an "Achiever Economy" where players need to work for their items or have the best skill, whereas Diablo has a "Merchant Item Economy". The gameplay focus on items concerns me; I hope it doesn't sacrifice other important aspects of the game.

* Blizzard is expecting users to be able to sell items for $5, $10, and $50 on the Cash Auction House. The Gold Auction House will be for normal sales and most common items. The Cash Auction House will be for the best items and hardest to get.

* They seem to be aware that there's a clear segregation between the Gold AH and Cash AH in that the Gold AH will be used for low level items and the Cash AH will be used for high level items. For those who are complaining about the Cash AH, supporters will say "The real money auction house is optional." Well.. yes, optional for cheap items. All of the best items will be sold for cash and they'll also cycle through the system. Rob Pardo said that the "really powerful items will be bought and sold all the time."

* Rob Pardo is hoping people will use the Account Balance (RMAH) to support their World of Warcraft subscription, buy B.Net games, and virtual items.

* The 3rd party payment provider partner has still not been announced yet because they don't technically have one yet. What concerns me is that they haven't finalized any deals yet, but that they're "getting close to a deal right now." The beta is starting soon, but they still haven't finalized the Cash Auction and Player Banking systems. Without a partner, what kind of shape is the technology and infrastructure? This can seriously push back the retail release date of the game and should have been finalized a long time ago. It sounds very last minute.

* Rob Pardo reiterated that the Cash Auction House is in place because players wanted it. "Why? PLAYERS WANT IT!" He also said, "Players really want this, and if we don't do it, someone else will."

* Thomas Tippl mentioned that the following investments will be out within the next 2-3 years: Diablo 3, D3 Expansion Pack, StarCraft X2 and X3, World of Warcraft X4 and X5. Titan MMO will incorporate mobile and social elements and will not be out in 2-3 years (i.e. 2014).

* Thomas Tippl said that the Map Marketplace will launch at the same time as the first SC2 Expansion Pack.

* Other than the World of Warcraft expansion packs, Blizzard also has new "Value Added Services" in the pipeline to enhance player experience.

* The Bungie MMO will be multiplatform. Since it trailed Skylanders information, it seemed to be that Thomas was indicating the Bungie MMO would be multiplatform like Skylanders. So, all consoles, plus PC, plus a "Web World" (or a web based method to access your account and possibly play elements of the game.)

* During the QA Period, the "nonlinear growth" question came up again. Mike Morhaime stated that the 12M to 11.1M drop was across the board but that "We don't break down regionally." They have done so in the past though.

* Regarding "continuing content", there will be a major update coming later this year. Meaning the X4 announcement at Blizzcon.

And, that's all folks. Some interesting stuff though.. especially that B.Net figure.