Today Activision announced its financial results for the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2021, related to the period between October 1 and December 31.
You can see a summary of the relevant figures below.
The press release comes with the traditional statement by Activision Blizzard chief executive officer Bobby Kotick, who focused mostly on the upcoming acquisition by Microsoft.
“I’m so incredibly proud of our teams for their commitment and passion as we continued to engage the world through epic entertainment in 2021.
As we look to the future, with Microsoft’s scale and resources, we will be better equipped to grow existing franchises, launch new potential franchises and unlock the rich library of games we have assembled over 40 years. Our 370 million players around the world and workplace excellence remain our focus. For investors, our recently announced transaction is the culmination of three decades of providing superior shareholder returns.”
We also hear comments about developer hiring and plans for the publisher’s brand.
“Growing our developer base remains a strategic priority for the company. We continued to increase our developer headcount in the fourth quarter and added hundreds of talented professionals in 2021. Our teams are executing against an exciting pipeline of content planned for 2022. Activision expects to drive renewed expansion in the Call of Duty franchise later in the year with groundbreaking all-new experiences. Blizzard is planning substantial new content for key franchises, and King expects to build on its momentum with further innovative live operations across its portfolio.
Activision Blizzard is committed to ensuring an inclusive and safe working environment for its employees, and in the fourth quarter continued to implement previously announced initiatives to strengthen its practices and policies. The company also announced the conversion of nearly 500 temporary workers to full-time employees at Activision Publishing studios, along with securing increased wages and expanded paid time off benefits for a large portion of temporary workers.”
We then read a list of highlights illustrating the performance of Activision’s games. In particular, Activision admits that Call of Duty: Vanguard underperformed in comparison to the previous year, accompanied by lower engagement in Call of Duty: Warzone.
Infinity Ward is working on the new Call of Duty and Warzone this year, with “The most ambitious plan in franchise history, with industry-leading innovation and a broadly appealing franchise setting.”
- Call of Duty net bookings on console and PC declined year-over-year in the fourth quarter, reflecting lower premium sales for Call of Duty: Vanguard versus the year ago title and lower engagement in Call of Duty: Warzone. Fourth quarter in-game player investment on console and PC remained well above the level seen prior to the March 2020 launch of Warzone.
- Development on this year’s premium and Warzone experiences is being led by Activision’s renowned Infinity Ward studio. The team is working on the most ambitious plan in franchise history, with industry-leading innovation and a broadly appealing franchise setting.
- Call of Duty Mobile net bookings grew year-over-year in the fourth quarter, driven by continued contribution from the game in China. For the full year, Call of Duty Mobile net bookings grew strongly, with 2021 worldwide consumer spending on the title exceeding $1 billion.
- Studio expansion has continued to add development resources worldwide as plans continue for ongoing live operations and new, unannounced titles in the Call of Duty universe.
- Within the Warcraft franchise, fourth quarter World of Warcraft reach and engagement continued to benefit from the combination of the Modern game and Classic under a single subscription. In 2021, World of Warcraft delivered its strongest engagement and net bookings outside of a Modern expansion year in a decade. Hearthstone fourth quarter net bookings grew year-over-year, driven by a steady cadence of new content.
- Blizzard is planning substantial new content for the Warcraft franchise in 2022, including new experiences in World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, and getting all-new mobile Warcraft content into players’ hands for the first time.
- In the Diablo franchise, Diablo II: Resurrected sold through more units from its September release until the year end than any other Activision Blizzard remaster over an equivalent period. On mobile, Diablo Immortal concluded its public testing with positive feedback.
- Blizzard is making strong progress on its pipeline, including new experiences in Warcraft, ongoing development in Diablo and Overwatch, and an exciting new IP.
- King’s in-game net bookings grew 14% year-over-year to a new record in the fourth quarter, driven by 20% year-over-year growth for Candy Crush, King’s largestfranchise. Candy Crush was the top-grossing game franchise in the U.S. app stores for the 18 consecutive quarter.
- Hours played across the King portfolio again grew year-over-year in the fourth quarter, with players responding positively to a more frequent cadence of compelling in-game content and events for key titles. King’s payer numbers grew by a double-digit percentage versus the year ago quarter.
- King’s advertising business grew rapidly in the fourth quarter to reach a new high. For 2021, advertising revenue grew over 60% year-over-year.
- Having passed the $1 billion annual operating income milestone in 2021, the King business is entering 2022 with strong momentum. Its teams are focused on continuing to deliver engaging features and events alongside robust live operations and disciplined user acquisition in the coming quarters.
If you’d like to compare today’s results with historical data, you can check out the announcement for the previous quarter, which was published in November.