Blizzard Banks on Mobile

Blizzard Entertainment announced its first stab at taking the Warcraft franchise mobile with Warcraft Arclight Rumble for Android and iOS. Featuring a single-player campaign, coop, and PVP, the free-to-play title is targeting a fall release.
A Balancing Act
It’s apparent that Blizzard is trying to head off criticisms of Rumble as a cash grab. The studio made sure to highlight the single-player campaign, despite multiplayer and microtransactions being where Blizzard will want players to spend most of their time during the games (hopefully) long life as a service.

  • Blizzard wants a casual experience with low barriers to entry, even if they won’t outright say it
    • “Easy to learn and fun to master”
    • “It’s instantly fun, yet deep and rewarding over the long term”
  • Blizzard is leaving the door open to a PC port

Mobile to the Rescue 
Activision-Blizzard is still in the black, but there is no hiding that it’s hit a rough patch.

  • PC and console revenue was down almost 40% YoY in Q1 2022, while mobile was up 10%.
  • Monthly active users (MAU) for all three of Activision-Blizzard’s segments (Activision, Blizzard, King) have been declining
    • Activision’s MAUs in particular have plummeted over the last year, from 150 million to 100 million

The COVID gaming boom papered over shaky fundamentals for Activision-Blizzard, and without the COVID boost it’s going to need to rely more on recurrent mobile revenue until its next big blockbuster hit.

  • Activision is banking on 2022’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 being that cash cow
  • Last 2 annual releases have underperformed
  • COD: Warzone has also stagnated

Activision-Blizzard blamed Call of Duty: Vanguard’s poor performance on its WWII setting and lack of innovation, despite larger, fundamental problems such poor quality assurance and rushed development timelines.
Activision-Blizzard won’t be the only gaming company navigating rough terrain. These future challenges won’t be limited to game developers as consumers wait for the titles to justify a new console or PC purchase.