How much Activision does it take to change a Blizzard?


#56

The thrust of the thread-starting article was a recap of how Activision has replaced the decision-makers at Blizzard over the last year or so with their execs. That’s not to say the remaining Blizzard folks didn’t march in step with the new leaders, but the article does talk about how that change impacted the culture at Blizzard, including financial decisions.


#57

Well yes, the CEO left and people were all flustered over that, then Activision was much more heavy-handed. They let Blizzard do its thing when WoW had 15+ million subscribers and they kept churning out hits like Hearthstone and Overwatch, but HoTS failing and both Hearthstone and Overwatch fading transformed it into a what have you done for me lately type situation.

Remember, Activision is run by Bobby Kotick. He doesn’t give a shit about gaming. He could be selling tampons or windshield wipers and his approach would not differ.

That said, it’s unclear what the hell Blizzard publishes, and esports for fading titles doesn’t seem like a revenue generator, if it indeed ever was. So cutting those divisions isn’t a crazy thing to do.


#58

If the allegations from the blog post that Kerzain linked above are accurate, then I won’t be shedding tears for layoffs in the esports division.


#59

You mean Vivendi, who sold their entire gaming division (that also included things like Sierra)?


#60

I watch a lot of Hearthstone tourneys. I enjoy them so much I wound up spending money on cards. If they kill those, that game is going to go into serious decline.


#61

That’s just one side of the story, the allegations actually aren’t particularly bad, and the author admits to having serious mental issues.


#62

It was brought up at EA during meetings with shareholders, at least a couple of times I was there for.

So eyelids are batted occasionally.


#63

I feel terrible for colleagues losing their jobs.

I also see this weeks commentary as yet more completely pro Blizzard bias.

Really not comfortable with a developer whose success is based around ripping off other peoples work being held up as such a wonderful grail for others to aspire to. They also had the freedom to hire whoever and however many they wanted and take as much time as they felt they needed. Now the business has caught up with them blame is being pointed not at Blizzard mismanagement but at Activision, which gave them so much freedom.

Activision also has a great many very talented developers losing their jobs but they are painted as the lesser victims next to the white knights of Blizzard.

ok snark done. I do feel bad for folks at both places.


#64

There’s definitely something to be said about today’s investors and the, primarily, men who run these companies that a successful, profitable company that gives a reasonable return to investors is not good enough.

I also don’t understand why Jim has to be gross all the time.


#65

Are they any more guilty of “ripping off other peoples work” than anyone else in the industry?


#66

Oh I’m totally down for his jizz jokes, I just don’t like the high-pitched voice affectation he takes on, it hurts my ears. But yeah I can see that being off-putting to some also.


#67

Well they are more successful at it than most that’s for sure :)


#68

Because YouTube. Calmly and cleanly discussing a subject gets you way less views than sprinkling screams, juvenile dirty talk, and insults into your video.


#69

Blizzard certainly ripped off someone for every game, but they didn’t make straight-up clones.

WoW is a dikuMUD just like Everquest sure, but Blizzard innovated in more than polish, they built quest-driven gameplay, their talent system, the rest system, etc.

HoTS is a failure and far from the first MOBA but again Blizzard innovated within the genre, multiple maps and playtypes. It’s an ambitious title.


#70

He’s got some character, and I am pretty sure removing the out of blue cum jokes would not lessen his appeal to most, might even broaden it a bit.


#71

Yup, they dont clone. Good distinction. They copy and make more accessible. Which again is fine. Thats a perfectly valid approach to running a creative business.

I dont respect that but I understand its a fine way to run a business.

What isnt a fine way of running a business is using obsolete project management philosophies and over hiring. Which they continually avoid flak for and have done for years. Turns out Blizzard’s management isnt immune to the facts of business either.


#72

Well again, there’s more to WoW than a more accessible Everquest, and the same with HoTS and LoL. It’s more than accessibility or polish. Blizzard enters established genres and then innovates within them. They’ve been very successful doing that, never creating a genre, but also limiting their risk. Creating genres or even sub-genres isn’t easy to do!

Why not over-hire if you have the money, if your primary objective is to be successful enough to provide a home for people to keep making great games, rather than maximizing profits? That doesn’t sync up well with the Kotick management style, for sure.


#73

Fiscal report: https://investor.activision.com/node/32251/pdf

For the year ended December 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were a record $7.50 billion, as compared with $7.02 billion for 2017. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were a record $5.79 billion. GAAP operating margin was 27%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were a record $2.35, as compared with $0.36 for 2017. On a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 34% and earnings per diluted share were a record $2.72, as compared with $2.21 for 2017.

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were a record $2.38 billion, as compared with $2.04 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were a record $1.79 billion. GAAP operating margin was a Q4 record of 29%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were a record $0.84, as compared with loss per share of $0.77 for the fourth quarter of 2017. On a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was a Q4 record of 35% and earnings per diluted share were a record $0.90, as compared with $0.49 for the fourth quarter of 2017.

Activision Blizzard generated $1.79 billion in operating cash flow for the year ended December 31, 2018, as compared to $2.21 billion for 2017. For the quarter, operating cash flow was $999 million.

For the year ended December 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net bookingsB were a record $7.26 billion, as compared with $7.16 billion for 2017, below our prior outlook. Net bookingsB from digital channels were a record $5.72 billion, as compared with $5.43 billion for 2017, and in-game net bookingsB were a record of $4.2 billion.

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net bookingsB were a record $2.84 billion, compared with $2.64 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, below our prior outlook. Net bookingsB from digital channels were a record $1.88 billion, as compared with $1.62 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, and in-game net bookingsB were a record of $1.2 billion.

In 2019, the company will increase development investment in its biggest franchises, enabling teams to accelerate the pace and quality of content for their communities and supporting a number of new product initiatives. The number of developers working on Call of Duty , Candy Crush , Overwatch , Warcraft ® , Hearthstone and Diablo ® in aggregate will increase approximately 20% over the course of 2019. The company will fund this greater investment by de-prioritizing initiatives that are not meeting expectations and reducing certain non-development and administrative-related costs across the business. The company is also integrating its global and regional sales and go-to-market, partnerships, and sponsorships capabilities. As part of these restructuring actions, the company expects to incur a GAAP-only pre-tax charge of approximately $150 million, the majority of which is expected to be incurred this year.


#74

Wow, so they kicked ass. A nice improvement over last year. Did that beat or meet expectations?


#75