SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced third quarter 2022 results.
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, shared, “Our games are the result of passion and excellence. This comes from an environment that fosters inspiration, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to develop and support our talent. Our employees’ dedication and teamwork are at the heart of an extraordinary workplace that enables the magic embodied in our games. We look forward to continuing to release epic entertainment in service of our global community of players as a part of Microsoft, one of the world’s most admired companies. We continue to expect that our transaction will close in Microsoft’s current fiscal year ending June 2023.”
(in millions, except EPS)
GAAP Net Revenues
Impact of GAAP deferralsA
Impact of GAAP deferralsA
Please refer to the tables at the back of this earnings release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.
For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $1.78 billion, as compared with $2.07 billion for the third quarter of 2021. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $1.61 billion. GAAP operating margin was 27%. GAAP earnings per diluted share was $0.55, as compared with $0.82 for the third quarter of 2021. On a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 34% and earnings per diluted share was $0.68, as compared with $0.89 for the third quarter of 2021.
Activision Blizzard generated $257 million in operating cash flow for the quarter as compared with $521 million for the third quarter of 2021.
Please refer to the tables at the back of this press release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.
For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, Activision Blizzard’s net bookingsB were $1.83 billion, as compared with $1.88 billion for the third quarter of 2021. In-game net bookingsC were $1.36 billion, as compared with $1.20 billion for the third quarter of 2021.
For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, overall Activision Blizzard Monthly Active Users (MAUs)D were 368 million.
As announced on January 18, 2022, Microsoft plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share in an all-cash transaction. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review. The transaction, which is expected to close in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, has been approved by the boards of directors of both Activision Blizzard and Microsoft and by Activision Blizzard’s stockholders.
Conference Call and Earnings Presentation
In light of the proposed transaction with Microsoft, and as is customary during the pendency of an acquisition, Activision Blizzard will not be hosting a conference call, issuing an earnings presentation, or providing detailed quantitative financial guidance in conjunction with its third quarter 2022 earnings release. For further detail and discussion of our financial performance please refer to our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2022.
Selected Business Highlights
Successful content initiatives for key intellectual properties have positioned the company for a return to strong growth. Our expanded development teams are executing well as they deliver a wide range of compelling content across our portfolio. Following its October 28 launch, Call of Duty®: Modern WarfareTM II has broken records as the fastest-selling title in the history of the Call of Duty franchise. At Blizzard, the October 4 free-to-play launch of Overwatch® 2 has driven community engagement to new highs. These results build on the recent strong launch for Diablo® Immortal™ and a substantial content rollout underway for World of Warcraft®. At King, the Candy Crush™ franchise again delivered a record performance.
While the company remains cognizant of risks including those related to the labor market and economic conditions, we expect to expand our global audience, deepen community engagement, and deliver renewed growth in player investment in the fourth quarter and beyond. The company expects fourth quarter GAAP revenue to be 5% lower year-over-year or better. Net bookings and total segment operating income are each expected to grow at least 20% year-over-year.
Third quarter net bookings declined 3% year-over-year on a reported basis, and were slightly higher year-over-year on a constant currency basisE. The company continued to deliver strong results on the strategically important mobile platform, with mobile net bookings growing over 20% year-over-year to approximately $1.0B. Third quarter segment operating income increased versus the second quarter for each of Activision, Blizzard and King.
- Since its October 28 launch, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II has set new records for our largest franchise, becoming the fastest premium Call of Duty release to cross $1 billion in sell-through. Sales have been robust across all platforms, including on PC, where unit sell-through to date is approximately twice the level of recent strong titles in the series. Modern Warfare II has set new franchise engagement records for a premium Call of Duty release, with hours played in the first 10 days more than 40% above the prior franchise record.
- On November 16, alongside the first season of in-game content for Modern Warfare II, Activision will release Call of Duty: Warzone™ 2.0. This all-new, free-to-play Call of Duty experience encompasses a wide array of learnings gained from the highly successful original Warzone. Tightly integrated with the premium game, Warzone 2.0 extends the Modern Warfare universe while bringing compelling new sandbox experiences to the franchise from day one, with further exciting content planned for the coming months.
- In the third quarter, Activision also unveiled Call of Duty: Warzone MobileTM, planned for full release in 2023. Internally developed on the same engine as Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.0, the game will offer our community compelling battle royale gameplay on mobile as well as shared social features and cross-progression with the console and PC experiences. Over 20 million people have already pre-registered for the game on Google Play.
- Following a three-year period in which Call of Duty reached well over half a billion players and delivered a step change increase in engagement and player investment, these launches mark the start of a new era intended to take the franchise to new heights. Activision is looking forward to building on its current momentum in 2023, with plans for next year including the most robust Call of Duty live operations to date, the next full premium release in the blockbuster annual series, and even more engaging free-to-play experiences across platforms.
- Activision’s third quarter financial performance was lower year-over-year, primarily reflecting reduced engagement for Call of Duty following the weaker reception for last year’s premium release. In-game net bookings on console and PC again grew sequentially in the third quarter versus the second quarter, contributing to sequential growth in segment operating income. Segment revenue and operating income are expected to return to strong year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter following the successful launch of Modern Warfare II.
- October 4 saw the global launch of Overwatch 2, with a free-to-play model designed to allow more people than ever before to experience the acclaimed team-based action game. Over 35 million people played the game in its first month, including many who were new to Overwatch. The expanded community is engaging deeply, with average daily player numbers for the first month of Overwatch 2 more than double that of its acclaimed predecessor. Player investment is also off to a strong start, positioning the title to be a meaningful contributor to Blizzard’s business in the fourth quarter. Blizzard is looking forward to delivering an ambitious slate of regular seasonal updates for Overwatch 2 that introduce new characters, maps and modes, including the game’s much-anticipated PvE mode planned for 2023.
- In the Warcraft franchise, the September 26 release of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King® Classic contributed to a strong increase in WoW reach and engagement at the end of the third quarter. On November 28, Blizzard will release World of Warcraft: DragonflightTM, the innovative next expansion for the modern game, as the team increases the cadence of WoW content for the community. Elsewhere in the Warcraft franchise, mobile title Warcraft: Arclight RumbleTM is progressing well through regional testing.
- On mobile, Diablo Immortal expanded its global reach with a strong launch in China in July. The title reached the top of the download charts and has ranked in the top 10 grossing mobile games in China since launch. Around the world, Diablo Immortal is being supported with major new content, features, and events aimed at keeping the community engaged. Meanwhile, work on Diablo IV and its substantial ongoing post-launch content continues to progress very well ahead of its launch planned for 2023.
- Blizzard’s third quarter segment revenue grew double-digits year-over-year against a year ago quarter that included the release of Diablo II: ResurrectedTM. The third quarter benefited from the recent launch of Diablo Immortal, while Warcraft franchise net bookings were stable year-over-year. Segment operating margin was lower year-over-year, due to marketing investment to support the strong release slate and the shift in the mix of business in the quarter.
- Currently, we have licensing agreements with a third party covering the publication of several Blizzard titles in China. These agreements, which contributed approximately 3% of Activision Blizzard’s consolidated net revenues in 2021, expire in January 2023. We are in discussions regarding the renewal of these agreements, but a mutually-satisfactory deal may not be reached. We continue to see substantial long-term growth opportunities for our business in the country. The co-development and publishing of Diablo Immortal is covered by a separate long-term agreement.
- King’s in-game net bookings increased 8% year-over-year, driven by the Candy Crush franchise, reflecting ongoing strong execution across live operations and user acquisition. King’s payer numbers again increased by a double-digit percentage year-over-year.
- King continues to introduce more player-versus-player features within Candy Crush, fueling engagement and player investment. Time spent within Candy grew year-over-year for a fifth successive quarter, and Candy Crush was the top-grossing game franchise in the U.S. app stores1 for the 21st quarter in a row.
- King’s third quarter segment revenue grew 6% year-over-year, equivalent to low double-digit growth on a constant currency basisE. Advertising revenue was consistent year-over-year despite a challenging macro environment. King’s third quarter operating margin was lower year-over-year, due to the year ago quarter benefiting from insurance claim proceeds.
- This November marks the 10-year anniversary of Candy Crush SagaTM, the original and largest title in the Candy Crush franchise. Candy Crush enters its second decade in strong health, with over 200 million monthly active users and with player investment at record levels. King’s development, commercial and analytics teams are working on a strong pipeline of content and initiatives expected to delight the community and drive further growth in the coming years.
- Cash and short-term investments at the end of the second quarter stood at $10.9 billion, and Activision Blizzard ended the quarter with a net cashF position of approximately $7.3 billion.
About Activision Blizzard
Our mission, to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment has never been more important. Through communities rooted in our video games we enable hundreds of millions of people to experience joy, thrill and achievement. We enable social connections through the lens of fun, and we foster purpose and a sense of accomplishment through healthy competition. Like sport, but with greater accessibility, our players can find purpose and meaning through competitive gaming. Video games, unlike any other social or entertainment media, have the ability to break down the barriers that can inhibit tolerance and understanding. Celebrating differences is at the core of our culture and ensures we can create games for players of diverse backgrounds in the 190 countries our games are played.
As a member of the Fortune 500 and as a component company of the S&P 500, we have an extraordinary track record of delivering superior shareholder returns for over 30 years. Our sustained success has enabled the company to support corporate social responsibility initiatives that are directly tied to our games. As an example, our Call of Duty Endowment has helped find employment for over 100,000 veterans.
Learn more information about Activision Blizzard and how we connect and engage the world through epic entertainment on the company’s website, www.activisionblizzard.com.
1 Based on data.ai Intelligence
A Net effect of accounting treatment from revenue deferrals on certain of our online-enabled products. Since certain of our games are hosted online or include significant online functionality that represents a separate performance obligation, we defer the transaction price allocable to the online functionality from the sale of these games and then recognize the attributable revenues over the relevant estimated service periods, which are generally less than a year. The related cost of revenues is deferred and recognized as an expense as the related revenues are recognized. Impact from changes in deferrals refers to the net effect from revenue deferrals accounting treatment for the purposes of revenues, along with, for the purposes of EPS, the related cost of revenues deferrals treatment and the related tax impacts. Internally, management excludes the impact of this change in deferred revenues and related cost of revenues when evaluating the company’s operating performance, when planning, forecasting and analyzing future periods, and when assessing the performance of its management team. Management believes this is appropriate because doing so enables an analysis of performance based on the timing of actual transactions with our customers. In addition, management believes excluding the change in deferred revenues and the related cost of revenues provides a much more timely indication of trends in our operating results.
B Net bookings is an operating metric that is defined as the net amount of products and services sold digitally or sold-in physically in the period, and includes license fees, merchandise, and publisher incentives, among others, and is equal to net revenues excluding the impact from deferrals.
C In-game net bookings primarily includes the net amount of downloadable content and microtransactions sold during the period, and is equal to in-game net revenues excluding the impact from deferrals.
D Monthly Active User (“MAU”) Definition: We monitor MAUs as a key measure of the overall size of our user base. MAUs are the number of individuals who accessed a particular game in a given month. We calculate average MAUs in a period by adding the total number of MAUs in each of the months in a given period and dividing that total by the number of months in the period. An individual who accesses two of our games would be counted as two users. In addition, due to technical limitations, for Activision and King, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would be counted as two users. For Blizzard, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would generally be counted as a single user. In certain instances, we rely on third parties to publish our games. In these instances, MAU data is based on information provided to us by those third parties, or, if final data is not available, reasonable estimates of MAUs for these third-party published games.
E Year-over-year growth on a constant currency basis is calculated by translating current quarter local currency amounts to U.S. dollars based on prior period exchange rates. These amounts are compared to the prior period to derive constant-currency year-over-year performance. We present constant currency information to provide a framework for assessing how our underlying businesses performed excluding the effect of currency rate fluctuations.
- Total net bookings declined by 3% year-over-year for the third quarter of 2022. On a constant currency basis, total net bookings increased 1% year-over-year for the third quarter of 2022 as currency rate changes negatively impacted the quarter by 4%.
- Activision segment net revenues declined by 25% year-over-year, Blizzard segment net revenues grew by 10%, and King segment net revenues grew by 6% for the third quarter of 2022. On a constant currency year-over-year basis, Activision segment net revenue declined 22%, Blizzard segment net revenue grew 16%, and King segment net revenue grew 11% for the third quarter of 2022, as currency rate changes negatively impacted Activision segment net revenue by 3%, Blizzard segment net revenue by 6%, and King segment net revenue by 5%.
F Net cash is defined as cash and cash equivalents ($7.7B as of September 30, 2022) and short-term investments ($3.2B as of September 30, 2022) minus gross debt ($3.7B as of September 30, 2022).
Non-GAAP Financial Measures: As a supplement to our financial measures presented in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”), Activision Blizzard presents certain non-GAAP measures of financial performance. These non-GAAP financial measures are not intended to be considered in isolation from, as a substitute for, or as more important than, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP. In addition, these non-GAAP measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all of the items associated with the company’s results of operations as determined in accordance with GAAP.
Activision Blizzard provides net income (loss), earnings (loss) per share, and operating margin data and guidance both including (in accordance with GAAP) and excluding (non-GAAP) certain items. When relevant, the company also provides constant currency information to provide a framework for assessing how our underlying businesses performed excluding the effect of currency rate fluctuations. In addition, Activision Blizzard provides EBITDA (defined as GAAP net income (loss) before interest (income) expense, income taxes, depreciation, and amortization) and adjusted EBITDA (defined as non-GAAP operating margin (see non-GAAP financial measure below) before depreciation). The non-GAAP financial measures exclude the following items, as applicable in any given reporting period and our outlook:
- expenses related to share-based compensation, including liability awards accounted for under ASC 718;
- the amortization of intangibles from purchase price accounting;
- fees and other expenses related to merger and acquisitions, including related debt financings, and refinancing of long-term debt, including penalties and the write off of unamortized discount and deferred financing costs;
- restructuring and related charges;
- other non-cash charges from reclassification of certain cumulative translation adjustments into earnings as required by GAAP;
- the income tax adjustments associated with any of the above items (tax impact on non-GAAP pre-tax income is calculated under the same accounting principles applied to the GAAP pre-tax income under ASC 740, which employs an annual effective tax rate method to the results); and
- significant discrete tax-related items, including amounts related to changes in tax laws, amounts related to the potential or final resolution of tax positions, and other unusual or unique tax-related items and activities.
In the future, Activision Blizzard may also consider whether other items should also be excluded in calculating the non-GAAP financial measures used by the company. Management believes that the presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures provides investors with additional useful information to measure Activision Blizzard’s financial and operating performance. In particular, the measures facilitate comparison of operating performance between periods and help investors to better understand the operating results of Activision Blizzard by excluding certain items that may not be indicative of the company’s core business, operating results, or future outlook. Additionally, we consider quantitative and qualitative factors in assessing whether to adjust for the impact of items that may be significant or that could affect an understanding of our ongoing financial and business performance or trends. Internally, management uses these non-GAAP financial measures, along with others, in assessing the company’s operating results, and measuring compliance with the requirements of the company’s debt financing agreements, as well as in planning and forecasting.
Activision Blizzard’s non-GAAP financial measures are not based on a comprehensive set of accounting rules or principles, and the terms non-GAAP net income, non-GAAP earnings per share, non-GAAP operating margin, and non-GAAP or adjusted EBITDA do not have a standardized meaning. Therefore, other companies may use the same or similarly named measures, but exclude different items, which may not provide investors a comparable view of Activision Blizzard’s performance in relation to other companies.
Management compensates for the limitations resulting from the exclusion of these items by considering the impact of the items separately and by considering Activision Blizzard’s GAAP, as well as non-GAAP, results and outlook, and by presenting the most comparable GAAP measures directly ahead of non-GAAP measures, and by providing a reconciliation that indicates and describes the adjustments made.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: The statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements including, but not limited to statements about: (1) projections of revenues, expenses, income or loss, earnings or loss per share, cash flow, or other financial items; (2) statements of our plans and objectives, including those related to releases of products or services; (3) statements of future financial or operating performance, including the impact of tax items thereon; (4) statements regarding the proposed transaction between Activision Blizzard and Microsoft (such transaction, “the proposed transaction with Microsoft”), including any statements regarding the expected timetable for completing the proposed transaction with Microsoft, the ability to complete the proposed transaction with Microsoft, and the expected benefits of the proposed transaction with Microsoft; and (5) statements of assumptions underlying such statements.