Activision Blizzard is one of the world's biggest independent games software developers, and owner of two of the industry's biggest franchises: World Of Warcraft, Skylanders and above all Call of Duty, the military shooter that has been the overall #1 gaming franchise for almost a decade. Other key franchises include StarCraft, Diablo and Heartstone. Yet performance at all the established gaming companies has been buffeted by the fast-changing nature of the marketplace since 2010. The business was formed in 2008 by the merger of US company Activision with the software arm of French media and entertainment group Vivendi. Still intent on consolidating its existing assets, it was caught slightly by surprise by the sudden explosion of social media gaming, and especially mobile games. In 2015, it arranged to plug the sizeable hole in its portfolio with the acquisition of King Digital, makers of Candy Crush, Farm Heroes and others, for $5.9bn. More recently the similarly explosive growth of Fortnite - which quickly eclipsed its own online universe World of Warcraft - has left another dent in performance. It responded with a similarly themed challenger, Overwatch, but it still trails Fortnite's immense global popularity. Bobby Kotick is group CEO. Activision's revenues hit a new peak of $7.5bn in 2018, with net income of $1.8bn. Revenues are split more or less evenly between the group's three development studios of Activision, Blizzard and King, and more than three-quarters of sales now come from digital channels. However, the number of monthly active users of Activision's combined games portfolio have been declining steadily from 2017's record highs of 385m to 316m by 3Q 2019, and revenues for 2019 are expected to come in significantly lower than the year before.
Capsule checked 14th January 2020
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Historical profile information for Activision Blizzard
Adbrands Daily Update 25th Sep 2019: Pelle Sjoenell stepped down as global chief creative officer of BBH to take the same position at gaming giant Activision Blizzard, overseeing games such as Call of Duty and Candy Crush. He is replaced as BBH CCO by Joakim "Jab" Borgstrom, previously creative chief at the agency's Singapore office.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Gaming giant Activision Blizzard took the markets almost entirely by surprise with significantly better than expected figures for the holiday period. Retail research had suggested a sharp decline in sales for the latest installment of Activision's top-selling Call Of Duty franchise. However bricks-and-mortar losses were offset by a huge jump in digital downloads, not just of COD but also other titles, especially online multiplayer environment Overwatch. The company also enjoyed a big boost from recently acquired King Digital, makers of Candy Crush. That pushed quarterly revenues over $2bn for the first time, raising the full-year figure to $6.61bn, up an astonishing 42% year-on-year. Net income was up 8% to $966m. The unexpectedly strong performance caused Activision's share price to surge by almost 20% to a new high, before slipping back slightly.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Dec 2016: There were clear signs that the mammoth success of Activision's Call of Duty gaming franchise has peaked. Early figures for latest release Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, released last month, weighed in almost 50% below the year ago figures for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. The full report has yet to be released, but that decline was flagged by two market analysts with access to early numbers from researcher NPD. Those figures apply only to sales of physical units, as opposed to digital downloads, but it's still a huge fall. Competition from rival games has been especially intense this season, so it's hard to tell so far whether the lower sales are the result of gamers' fatigue with the CoD franchise, or merely the effect of multiple similar releases.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Oct 2016: Ads of the Week: "Screw This, Let's Go To Space". Here's superstar swimmer Michael Phelps as you truly have never seen him before, ramping up his commercial presence still further in his post-pool retirement. Christmas is coming so it must be time for another Call Of Duty iteration from Activision, and 72andSunny obliges us with the accompanying high-octane teaser, combining live action with game footage. As always, it's deliriously entertaining. It's been a terrible year, so "Screw this, let's go to space."
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Ads of the Week: "Seize Glory". Another week, another Call Of Duty trailer from 72andSunny, and there are no burgers in sight in this one. Last week brought us a bizarre joint promo between Call Of Duty and fast-feeder Carl's Jr (on our Facebook page, natch). This one is considerably more awesome. Even noobs who have never gone anywhere near a previous version of the game will be itching to get their hands on this. And Cara Delevingne is definitely a whole league - and paygrade - higher than Carl's Jr's Charlotte McKinney.
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