Activision Blizzard’s Q1 result witnesses 27 per cent growth YoY; ‘Call of Duty’ franchise plays significant role in the growth

Gaming giant Activision Blizzard’s GAAP revenue reported $2.28 billion for the first quarter of 2021, which is up by nearly 27 per cent YoY. The revenue percentage reflects that there has been a surge in consumption of games due to the pandemic leading to a stay at home environment. The Call of Duty franchise played a key role in the overall performance of the company.

“Activision Blizzard significantly exceeded its prior outlook for the first quarter, delivering very strong growth across our largest franchises. Our strategy is working, creating new experiences for our franchises across platforms, and with engagement and player investment opportunities that appeal to the broadest audience. Our teams delivered another quarter of fantastic results for Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, and we continue to make great progress on our pipeline, positioning us for ongoing strong results through the remainder of this year and beyond,” reads the financial report.

Activision Blizzard’s net bookings were up 36.18 per cent to $2.07 billion, as compared with $1.52 billion for the first quarter of 2020. In-game net bookings were $1.34 billion as compared with $0.96 billion for the first quarter of 2020 which is up by 39.58 per cent YOY. For the quarter ended on 31 March 2021, overall Activision Blizzard Monthly Active Users (MAUs) were 435 million.

GAAP earnings per share were 79 cents, compared to 65 cents a share a year earlier. In after-hours trading, Activision Blizzard’s stock price is up by 5.6 per cent to $93.67 a share.

GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $2.01 billion. GAAP operating margin was 35 per cent. On a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 43 per cent and earnings per diluted share were $0.98, as compared with $0.76 for the first quarter of 2020.

For the quarter, operating cash flow was $844 million, as compared with $148 million for the first quarter of 2020. For the trailing 12-month period, operating cash flow was $2.95 billion.

The strategic growth drivers of the company have been expanding the audience reach, deeper engagement and increase in player investment.


The introduction of free-to-play and mobile has transformed Call of Duty, more than tripling franchise MAUs over the last two years, and leading Activision to a new record of 150M MAUs.

  •  Call of Duty franchise MAUs increased QoQ and grew over 40 per cent  YoY. Engagement grew even faster YoY, again to a new quarterly record for the franchise. Net revenue earned $891M with segment operating  income $442 million with operating margin of 50  per cent.
  • Revenue grew 72 per cent YoY, driven by Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Warzone in-game revenues, strong premium sales, and Call of Duty Mobile.
  • Operating income more than doubled YoY and operating margin was 14 percentage points higher YoY.
  • Following its integration with Warzone, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War saw premium sales well above the levels typically seen in the first quarter.
  • Call of Duty in-game net bookings on console and PC grew more than 60 per cent YoY. The first two seasons of Black Ops Cold War and Warzone content were both in the top-three seasons in Call of Duty history for in-game net bookings. And the third season is sustaining this strong run-rate, tracking in-line with the first two seasons.
  • Call of Duty Mobile saw strong YoY growth in reach, engagement, and player investment in the first quarter, benefiting from ongoing enhancements in the West and the launch of the title in China. In the West, the March season concluded as the highest for player investment yet. Momentum has continued into the second quarter, with the April season now the top-grossing to date at this point after launch. In China, Call of Duty Mobile brought tens of millions of new players to the franchise, with player investment in the first quarter on par with the rest of the world combined.
  • The 2021 season of the professional Call of Duty League is off to a great start, enjoying strong YoY growth in average minute audience through the first two stages of competition.


  • Blizzard segment revenue grew seven per cent YoY, led by strong growth in the Warcraft franchise, with World of Warcraft’s Shadowlands expansion building on the substantial increase in scale seen since the launch of World of Warcraft Classic in 2019. Blizzard had 27 million MAUs in the first quarter.
  • World of Warcraft’s Shadowlands expansion continued to drive strong results following its record-setting release in November, with first quarter franchise net bookings growing sharply YoY. World of Warcraft saw strong reach, engagement and participation in value added services, along with a particularly high number of new players joining the community for the first time, boosted by initiatives to enhance the onboarding experience.
  • Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Forged in the Barrens, launched on 30 March and is on track to deliver expansion-over-expansion net bookings growth for the second consecutive release.
  • Ahead of its launch later this year, Diablo II: Resurrected saw very positive feedback during early testing in April and online viewership of the alpha test was the highest ever for a Blizzard game test.
  •  On mobile, Diablo Immortal entered its second phase of testing and is on track for global release later this year.
  • April saw Overwatch fans around the world return to celebrate players and city-based teams in the opening weekend of the 2021 season of Overwatch League. The league signed a multi-year partnership with Bilibili Esports for exclusive rights to broadcast league games to the platform’s passionate and growing Overwatch League fanbase in China.


  •  King segment revenue reached a new record, growing 22 per cent YoY, driven by strong growth for Candy Crush. King had 258 million MAUs in the first quarter.
  • King’s initiatives to broaden the payer base, deliver more frequent seasonal events and introduce compelling new features into Candy Crush and other portfolio titles drove in-game net bookings growth in the high-teens percentage YoY.
  •  Candy Crush grew in-game net bookings very strongly YoY and was once again the top grossing franchise in the U.S. app stores.
  •  In-game net bookings for Farm Heroes, King’s second-largest franchise, also grew sharply YoY.
  • King’s in-game net bookings have remained strong into the second quarter, continuing to grow well YoY.
  • Crash Bandicoot: On The Run! launched on 25 March and has seen over 30 million downloads to-date.
  •  King delivered 70 per cent YoY growth in advertising net bookings in the first quarter, with significant increases across both direct brand advertisers and partner networks.