Activision Blizzard Rides Gaming Surge

    • Activision Blizzard's revenue grew on the strength of its flagship titles like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft.
    • CEO Robert Kotick could be in line for $200 million in bonuses.

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Activision Blizzard leveled up again, with 27% net revenue growth in Q1 2021.

“Call of Duty” was a key driver behind the company’s $2.28 billion net haul during the quarter, with in-game purchases for the franchise’s various PC and console versions growing 60%.

The company owns several more of the most recognizable titles in gaming, including “World of Warcraft,” “Overwatch,” “Crash Bandicoot,” “Hearthstone,” and “Candy Crush.”

Activision Blizzard has pursued a multifaceted strategy to recruit players, developers and fans into gaming and esports.

  • Monthly active users across “Call of Duty” titles grew 40% year-over-year, and have tripled since 2019, reaching 150 million in Q1. Much of the Activision side’s growth came from the introduction of free-to-play and mobile options for the series.
  • The company’s Blizzard segment revenue grew 7%, led by the “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” expansion. Blizzard had 27 million monthly active users in the quarter.
  • The King segment, and its 258 million monthly active users, rode the massively popular “Candy Crush” to 22% growth. King’s advertising revenue is up 70%. 

Despite the surge in gaming during the pandemic, leading to $56 billion in global console sales in 2020, Activision Blizzard laid off around 190 employees during Q1 2021.

CEO Bobby Kotick cut his base pay in half to $875,000, but could be due $200 million in bonuses, according to activist investor group CtW.