Activision Blizzard Q2 2012 Financial Conference Call Key Points

This evening Activision Blizzard held their quarterly conference call to reveal their financial results for the 2nd Quarter of 2012. The call was pretty  much as we expected, touting record sales for Diablo 3 making it Blizzard’s best quarter ever for revenue.

What was a little disconcerting, and is certainly my fear, is that Mike stated that adding PvP would “enhance the value and longevity of Diablo 3” which skirts around the issue of the game’s other major problems which have been debated to death by players since the game launched. He did however mention “improvements to end-game rewards” so the itemisation is obviously a priority to get fixed.

Mike also pointed out that they are looking to attract more gamers to Blizzard games through Diablo 3 who would then go on and play other Blizzard games like World of Warcraft. I have picked out the main points from the call below.

  • Blizzard has been busy since last investor call. Best quarter ever for revenue at Blizzard. Success down to a record breaking launch of Diablo 3.
  • 16.9 million players logged into BattleNet in the past month to play Diablo 3, WoW or Sc2.
  • Diablo 3 launch shattered PC gamer records including fastest PC gaming sales ever. To date more than 10 million copies have been sold. Including the 1.2 million copies sold through the WoW annual pass.
  • While Diablo 3 is their number one seller, they did experience some challenges. Due to unprecedented influx of players a number of service issues arose that they needed to work around the clock to address. The vast majority of issues were ironed out within a couple of weeks of launch.
  • They are not satisfied with just breaking launch records, they want people to play and enjoy Diablo 3 for a long time.
  • The have already launched a number of fixes and updates including the activation of the auction house.
  • Diablo team has been working on improvements to end-game rewards and adding PvP which they hope will enhance the value and longevity of the game.
  • Players also took a break from WoW to play Diablo 3
  • Regarding the RMAH, Mike states that RMAH usage is in-line with their expectations. Players are making use of it and they will continue to support it and update it to make sure it meets players needs
  • Blizzard will not be providing projections or forecasts for the RMAH.
  • Regarding the Blizzard players base and Diablo 3 and what will happen when MoP is released, Mike made it clear that they hope to bring in new players through Diablo 3 who will also try other Blizzard games, especially World of Warcraft.
  • WoW subscribers down to 9.1 million subscribers worldwide, down from 10.2 million at the end of Q1. Majority of decline coming from the Eastern market.
  • Blizzard say decline is to be expected as they reach the end of an expansion and prior to MoP launching.
  • Great new games in the pipeline.
  • Build excitement for MoP in coming weeks. Positive feedback in MoP beta test.
  • Heart of the Swarm Beta coming soon
  • Launch MoP as quickly as possible in China, likely after Q3.

You can listen to a recording of the full call here. There were 13 slides included with the presentation, though only three related to Blizzard or Diablo III. You can see them below, or see all the slides (PDF format) here.

Related to this article
  • Next Activision/Blizzard Investor Conference Call on 2 August 2012

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    70 thoughts on “Activision Blizzard Q2 2012 Financial Conference Call Key Points

    1. Hm so D3 already sold more copies than D2 (8.5 mil).

      I wonder how many people did i piss off with that sentence :). Someone should really tell me that those sales come entirely from the “Diablo” name and how D3 actually sucks big time…

      Diablo3 selling another 4 mil after the first week makes sense. I know a lot of people who bought it in the last 1-2 months purely on the recommendation from their friends…i recommend it too!

      I guess this proves how irrelevnt forum hate is…

      • “Someone should really tell me that those sales come entirely from the “Diablo” name ”

        not entirely true,
        I’m sure many people who never played D2 bought it because they’re familiar with WoW (pretty obvious from the Q&A sessions at BlizzCon), and wanted to try the new Blizzard game

        but there is no way it would have sold so many copies if it were a brand new IP

        “I guess this proves how irrelevnt forum hate is”

        you guess incorrectly
        the fact that the game sold 4 million the first few weeks after release has absolutely nothing to do with proving “forum hate” is irrelevnt

        the question is, “how many of those 4 million are still playing the game?”

        interestingly, they showed a chart detailing how many people are playing Modern Warfare each month, but they didn’t show a chart for D3

        you gotta wonder why

        • One caught already. Jamees man…are you always here? Why so hateful?

          P.S. Once the issues have been ironed out and nerds have been given their carrot the game will have a healthy number of people playing it for a very long time… I expect that number to be higher than D2 (this doesnt prove that it is a better game though).

          • I’m always here because I keep alt tabbing between here and the AH 😆

            I think I actually spend more time trying to “buy low, sell high” than I do actually playing the game

            you may be correct about the game being around a long time and keeping more players interested than D2 did,
            I just don’t see that happening unless they get 1.0.4 out by Sept 18

            you have GW2 coming out next month, Borderlands 2 and Baldur’s Gate on Sept 18th and MoP on the 25th

            so let’s say 1/2 of the WoW annual pass players quit D3 for MoP the week it comes out; that’s 600 000 players quitting
            they might stay if 1.0.4 is here, but if it isn’t, I doubt they will

            • You can never quit a game that is installed as a choice on BattleNet…

              Those 10.000.000 stay on that hard disk a click away…

          • It all depends on the 1.4.0 patch. If they do it right, they got it made. But still I think Diablo 3 will not be played for the next decade like Diablo 2, why you ask, I’ll tell you.
            Though Diablo 2 is a legendary game in itself, it was played for so long because it did not have to much powerful competition. Sure there were Diablo 2 charm breakers like Titan Quest, but Diablo 2 did some things way right for it to stay ahead in the ARPG wars.
            Diablo 3 on the other hand, while being an enjoyable game, did some things waaaaayyyyyy wrong, and is already against up for some tough competition by Torchlight 2 and POE and not to mention “Diablo 3 killer” Grim Dawn.
            And besides, I don’t remember player hating Diablo 2 in it’s first three months. :-/

        • Ah the all knowing all seeing Risingred. Thre was a time when i thought you were a cool guy (datamining and all) but your comments (especially lately) are full of arrogance if one reads between the lines.

          • Risingred isn’t arrogant, he just speaks the truth.

            Diablo 3 isn’t that amazing, and yes, many of us bought the game and hyped it up because of the previous 2. Myself included.

            Everyone has opinions, In fact I do as well. Right now, imo, Diablo 3 sucks.
            Also, I can’t recommend this game to anyone. In fact, I’ve convinced many of my friends to avoid this game all together.

            • it an ok game
              I definitely got my money’s worth
              I would recommend people wait for 1.0.4 and then definite buy

      • “Hm so D3 already sold more copies than D2 (8.5 mil).”

        Finding reliable data for older video game sales is very difficult. I’ve seen cites for total D2 sales that range from 6-12 million. Also muddied because D2 is probably a top 5 most pirated game ever.

        The computer game market was much smaller in 2000 compared to now, so 8.5 million 12 years ago is a larger percentage than the same now. You see this effect with books, movies, and toys too — the “fastest selling” or “most sold” continue to be products released in the last 5-10 years, as the markets expand worldwide.

      • “Hm so D3 already sold more copies than D2 (8.5 mil).

        I wonder how many people did i piss off with that sentence :). Someone should really tell me that those sales come entirely from the “Diablo” name and how D3 actually sucks big time…”

        There are actually many reasons that lead to such a number of sales. But if you really just wanna hear a reason for the series to be responsible for it that explains it by itself, then I got no problem presenting you one:

        Think of all the players, who downloaded D2 in the years up to D3-release, just playing single player or with friends over LAN, while never actually having bought the game. Do you really think that a lot of them would have been so strong, not to buy the successor they waited for almost as long as the regular buyers?

        Back to a possible other reason: The marketingcampaign could have had something to do with it, with multiple articles a day per game-site, on a lot of game-sites, carefully avoiding to cast a bad light on the game (, to say it mildly). And it could have well worked in conjunction with the reason above 😉

        And now a difficult question to show who’s fanboi and who’s a fan: Do the people who only downloaded D2 and now bought D3 have the same right to be disappointed in the game and to voice their opinion, as the regular customers of both games?

        Kallisti! 😉

        Alexis of Silverfang

      • As I see it the haters are the small minority that yells the loudest … the reason for all the hate posts is because the rest of us is enjoying the game instead of yelling and screaming like small kids seeking moms attention or w/e … no reason to argue with these people, no matter what blizzard do they will always hate it. Why they even bother instead of just moving on and spend their lives on something they like instead is beyond me ….

        • “Why they even bother instead of just moving on and spend their lives on something they like instead is beyond me ….”

          Some of us “haters” are doing exactly that. We like the Diablo series and are kicking Blizzard in the butt, to do it right. At least with D4. And you know why? Because people care about what they like!

          edit: Sorry… that came out a bit offensive. I’m originally angry at Thrall, not you. Please accept my apologies.

      • I wonder how many copies of D2 have been pirated? Tens of millions, no doubt. You can’t just add those to the total since the vast majority of pirated stuff people just get b/c it’s free, but the fact that you can’t play D3 w/o buying it has surely added a couple/few million to the tally thus far.

        One might argue that the lack of a SP mode cost some sales as well, but I have to think that Blizzard and other developers are viewing D3’s 10m sales as a big proof that online-only DRM is a viable solution for the rampant piracy woes of the PC gaming industry.

        • It’s really not so hard to understand that Diablo 2 sold Diablo 3. Even with all the bad decisions people still bought it since they waited a decade to get their hands on it, you should know this better than anyone else.

          “but I have to think that Blizzard and other developers are viewing D3?s 10m sales as a big proof that online-only DRM is a viable solution ”

          The expansion’s sales will answer that, I’m sure of it.

      • Forum hate is not irrelevant, it does indicate a trend among certain demographics, BUT, it’s not NEARLY as relevant as whiners and haters want to make everyone believe it is.

      • I’ll say it: Blizzard spent its name on Diablo3.

        Some time ago I read somewhere from a Blizzard guy that the Blizzard name was like a bank account where they could only deposit. Maybe with Diablo 3 they started to draw.

        If you are not convinced, play this little game: chose a movie series (like Shrek, The Ice Age, Toy Story…) think at which movies of the series you liked more, and then check the box-office history of the series. Usually the movie who sold the most is not the best but the one after the best, and the movie that sold the least is the one after the worst (or the first of the series).

    2. Awesome news, in that they are acknowledging in a conf call that they want to find ways to provide longevity for D3 players.

    3. MORE than 10.000.000 players.

      So far the haters have to swallow their fail posts.

      And 4 million players added extra since the hate Brigade began its Crusade one minute before launch at Metacritic and on the forums.

      I would say: fail for these internet gurus.

      These forum haters have NO clue how real life communications work. You never buy according to what a forum poster writes.

      You buy because you trust your friends advice.

      • Indeed. That is why I tell all my friends not to buy D3 until it is in a budget bin somewhere. And the ones that did buy it, do the same. I feel really sorry for wasting all that time prior to the game to try to get into the beta, consume every bit of information and spending 60E so I could play right at launch (right…).

        I actually reinstalled D2. Made (another) amazon and cleared Act 1 and 2 now. I am level 20, have to think how I develop my character at every level-up. I again find myself not being able to stop playing it, even though it looks shit on a large screen and the lag on is pretty bad. Oh yeah, I found 2 uniques (one I am using, the other is a necromancer wand), 1 set item, 6 runes, jewels, charms and with every kill I am excited what will drop next.

    4. They want to make themselves look as good as possible to their investors so omitting information on something that does not look good is probably the likely reason. They probably don’t want to brag to investors that RMAH revenue isn’t that high or that people are stopping playing Diablo 3 in large numbers.

      If they made an amazing game with a great end game item hunt then both of those factors would have been better. If the itemization of a Diablo game is not good then players are going to stop playing and people are not going to bother using real money on items they do not enjoy.

      Also I agree that the game did not sell just based on the Diablo name alone because a lot of World of Warcraft players wanted to try out another Blizzard product, especially because it was another online RPG.

      I did however hype up the Diablo name to everyone I knew and that they should give Diablo 3 a try before the game came out. Now that I do not enjoy Diablo 3 I do not even talk about it to anyone and if anyone asks I tell them I did not really like the game and that I do not recommend it. Most of those sales I feel were based on hype.

      Sales over the long term would be much better if the game was actually amazing and word of mouth would then continually help sales. Instead I have a game I have no motivation to play and haven’t played it in a few weeks.

      • 4.000.000 PC gamers were added after launch dude … in 7 weeks time.

        PC gamers…

        If you sell 1 to 1.5 million total you have a massive success on PC’s these days (Skyrim says hi).

        But 10.000.000 and still coming up with these stupid posts is ridiculous.

        • Check out these numbers to see how much gamers seem to be enjoying Diablo 3 over the long term:

          It went from over 50,000 xfire users playing the game at the start of July to about 15,000 xfire users playing the game at the end of July. How is there going to be RMAH revenue on a game people are stopping playing and not enjoying based on community feedback?

          Xfire is the best sampling statistic that I have found regarding the trend of the number of users playing Diablo 3.

          • oh no !

            don’t mention “sampling statistic” and “xfire” in the same sentence !

            I know where this is going 😆

            • Since the figures mentioned are HOURS played and not even players, I have to laugh really.

              Since XFire is simply a non random closed box of a very limited number of players EVERY NEW game launched will see a huge decline after the first weeks in ACTIVITY. And since no new random Xfire players are added it is usless to track anything for a NEW game in its first months launching.

              No sane person would play a non mmorpg 10 hours straight for 6 months in a row. Hence all NEW games loose activity.

              The only limited tracking tool could be the public games being formed. But that didn’t drop very much after patch 1.03. Some 30%, but that’s quite normal for a new game.

            • “No sane person would play a non mmorpg 10 hours straight for 6 months in a row.”

              Oh. So I’m not sane. Thanks for your openness without any underlying pejudice sentiment.

              I’m pretty sure that a lot of fans of D2 will agree when I say: You have my deepest gratitude!

            • “don’t mention “sampling statistic” and “xfire” in the same sentence ! ”

              nice advice but too late 🙂

          • Using the best sampling data, my D3 playing friends, 0 out of 9 have ever heard anything about xfire. 8)

          • Oh jeez, Xfire statistics again. Where were you a month ago?

            Hey, just to round out your awesome comment, how about you link to some Metacritic ratings too? LOL, noob.

        • if things were good, we would have gotten numbers

          they showed a chart detailing how many people are playing Call of Duty each month, even how many were Elite vs Premium Elite

          but no numbers for D3

          10 million sold,

          how many still playing the game ?
          no idea

          nothing for the RMAH, nothing about how the player population is growing, shrinking or staying the same

          looking forward to the next conference call
          maybe then we can get some actual numbers

          • Diablo 3 is not an MMORPG you need to keep playing to progress your gearscore in order to be able to play it.

            10.000.000 players have it installed on their hard disk and can click on it.

            You are in the mood, you click. You are bored, you wait for days/weeks/months.

            You are in the mood again to see some new twists: you click. Always people on line on one server per region. Real Life friends on one server can meet when agreed in a Real Life café. No hastle with server transfers. No hastle with coms.

            See the picture already ?

            10 million AND growing in numbers. You will just have to learn to live with it.

            • “10.000.000 players have it installed on their hard disk and can click on it.”

              you don’t know that

              it’s totally possible that 400 000 people played it to NM, got bored and installed it
              it’s possible nobody uninstalled it, we just don’t know

              “10 million and growing”

              like I said, there were no charts to show the numbers

              so, I have no idea where you’re getting your information

    5. I think the “end-game rewards” bit is referring to their mysterious new endgame system(the one that they hinted at as an improvement over the D2 style of just collecting item upgrades forever) rather than itemization changes.

    6. 👿 I am in management and I have witnessed these dog-and-pony shows. The ENTIRE audience knows the truth. Unfortunately, the audience could fix it quickly if the asshat’s in charge would step aside/retire with grace. Get it right. You will get no more help from me (and ME are legion!)

    7. You watch, the end game rewards are going to be a special drop after killing 10-12 more elite packs in a row or something like that, they wont change the monsters or even the items.

      The buffs to legendaries are not enough to keep my interest if I cannot find them. These things need to start dropping throughout the game.

      hopefully a pits type area emerges in hell or perhaps a socket quest, you know something actually useful.

    8. Fastest selling PC game ever? Maybe.

      But for sure it’s also one of the fastest declining active player number too. Judging alone from my friendslist, and lately myself included, it seems that 80% of people have stopped playing. And many of them won’t come back, which hurts Blizzard even more due to loss of potential micro transactions. And I also think many people got a refund after buying the game. On related news: In Germany, Blizzard will soon face a sue and might not be allowed to sell the game anymore due to lack of informing the customer internet is always required. (

      I’m not an entire Diablo 3 hater, but when they have to redesign one of the core aspects of Diablo in the very first weeks of launch (legendaries, and itemization in general), then something must have gone terribad wrong.

      • It is really a laugh how people invent things on the fly.

        let’s see after patch 1.03 (new number of public games, the in game counter of forming games showed 1800+ in prime time).

        20% of that would be … 350+ in … prime time…

        As it goes it is now 08.30 in the morning and I already see… 400+ with people just waking up in Europe. No doubt the number in prime time is above 1200+ tonight.

        So your 80% is pure thin air.

        Also the German case is a real laugh. “Always internet required” … while the same sentence on ALL WOW boxes was being used for 8 years already.

        FYI Diablo 3 is STILL best selling game 9 weeks after launch in Germany…

        Go figure… 🙂

    9. who cares how many people play it? the game has serious shortcomings that need to be addressed asap. whether 10 or 10,000,000 is irrelevant to me.


    10. Unless they really do something very compelling with whatever “end game” stuff they’re adding, I fail to see how it’s going to help.

      Sure I could be wrong, but I find it hard to believe buffs to legendaries will bring any/enough people back into the game. It’s still being guarded by the AH, which is seemingly a problem for many.

      If the game manages to leave a sour enough taste in many peoples’ mouths, they won’t be coming back.

      It’s not even like with WoW, where people can say, “Man, do you remember back in Vanilla WoW….” Yeah, it’s not like that with Diablo 3 at all. We just remember the first two that Blizzard North did.

      • Again… people “coming back” ? Enough people ?

        You come back in D3 by clicking on a button. Simple as that. Gearscore needed anyone to do things ? 🙂

        With 10.000.000 copies sold, that’s trivial to assume the game “needs” players with 3 central servers and a central AH.

        You guys are still stuck in the “our MMO game is dying because our 3 K servers are empty and no one is paying his subs anymore” mentality.

        You know at 8 AM in the morning it takes .. 3 seconds to form a new group in Diablo 3. You click : go.

        • I’ve near had it with you. Now Diablo 2 is a MMO with servers for 3000 people. Could you please at least try “listening” to yourself? Your assumptions may work for some players, but definitively far from all of them. The number of copies sold does not mean that everyone is all happy about the state the game is in. And now please go and play the game: You’re getting boring. In an itchy way!

          edit: “You know at 8 AM in the morning it takes .. 3 seconds to form a new group in Diablo 3. You click : go.”

          And you know: You, who argues that hours played doesn’t equal actual active players to discredit the opinion of others, should really refrain from this type of examples. Because I don’t see the seconds it takes to find a new multiplayerparty saying anything about the total number of games played simultaniously. And that in turn says nothing about the actual number of players playing the game at the time. (Or over the week, or over the month, or their decline and increase, or …)

        • So because it’s physically simple to start and play D3 means people will “come back”? No. That’s a retarded argument. The advent of computers and smartphones made it easy for me to play games. But guess what? I hate Angry Birds even though it takes 3 seconds to launch the game.

          News flash bro. Sure it’s great that the game sold 10 million copies, but if player numbers stagnate to pitiful levels, it’ll be considered somewhat of a failure.

          And you’re right, Diablo isn’t an MMO. Many would argue it’s dull as hell because there’s not even a reason to play with other people, regardless of the capability to. For most people it’s just an always-online single player game anyway, except for the auction house, which I guess is sort of multiplayer-ish?

        • @Thrall :
          Dafuq you talking about bro…?
          You make it sound like, “it sold 10 Mill, great, who cares if anyone plays it.”
          ‘Coming Back’ means here, for the next patch, if people are fed up with D3, no matter how much you patch it, they won’t come back, not to mention the decline of the RMAH and the future sales of the Expansion.

          y you such a FANBOI…?????

        • Well lets see. People bought the box, played it and left after the bad taste it left in player’s mouths. I don’t see what the fuss is all about ?

    11. “Great new games in the pipeline.”

      Was that a plural I see? I only knew of Project Titan. Wonder what other games are in the pipeline?

    12. How many of these players are Wow Players with an annual pass?!? That would be interesting.

      Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    13. “The have already launched a number of fixes and updates including the activation of the auction house.
      Regarding the RMAH, Mike states that RMAH usage is in-line with their expectations. Players are making use of it and they will continue to support it and update it to make sure it meets players needs.”
      Yeah, who fucking needs the game when there’s ah and rmah. And people are eating it.

    14. “16.9 million players logged into BattleNet in the past month to play Diablo 3, WoW or Sc2.”

      “WoW subscribers down to 9.1 million subscribers worldwide”

      I saw a number of ~3.5 million SC2 players, does this mean there were 4+ million people playing D3 last month? Or am I being stupid again and reading it wrong? 😳

      • ^ interesting

        sounds right

        anyone curious enough to track down these numbers and check them out ?

      • 4 million “unique” to Diablo 3 users. The total number of Diablo 3 users would presumably be between that 4 million and 10 million (who bought the game) number.

    15. Before the release of D3, Diablo franchise sold more than 25 million and possibly (considering ~80% of players pirate games) previous games were pirated at least 100 million times.

      Also D3 sold well just because of Diablo I and II (excluding 1.2 million WoW players). Sales don’t mean Diablo 3 is a good or decent game. Actually people quitting D3 in millions proves that D3 is a mediocre game at best.

      BTW, WoW constantly loses subs and Guild Wars 2 is near. Vivendi is wise for trying to sell Activision Blizzard.

    16. I have no clue how anyone defends this game–especially bragging on sales numbers as some form of validation. The Diablo series was hands-down my favorite game series, period. Own and read all the books, comics, etc. I’ve never \rage-hated\ against a game before, but how can anyone even draw serious comparisons between D3 and D2? The on-rails stat and skill progression and horrible story-telling are reasons enough for ALL of the hate it has received, if not more. Let alone all the other little nagging issues.

      I feel like I bought a God of War game and found out that they stripped away all manner of combos. Fundamentally broken system. I still check these forums and keep an ear to the news for nostalgia’s sake, but little more than that. I see no way to \fix\ this game for me, at least. Sadly, Blizzard North/Condor will be sorely missed.

      What some of you are calling \hate\ I call \heart-break\. Peace.

      • well Starwars I-III was clearly better than IV-VI because it grossed $800 million more.

        or are you saying that their is no correlation between quality and quantity ? that sounds ridiculous !

    17. Why do you guys think 1.0.4 will be a big deal? Was there a blue post about it telling what they gonna fix in that patch?

      • while we don’t know specifics, there are some general things we know

        “On the game balance front, this update will contain changes designed to further deliver on the team’s goal of promoting “build diversity,” with buffs to many rarely used, underpowered class abilities.

        Another topic we’ve seen actively discussed is the fact that better, more distinct Legendary items are needed. We agree. Patch 1.0.4 will also include new and improved Legendary items that are more interesting, more powerful, and more epic in ways you probably won’t be expecting.

        We’re also working on a number of interface updates, including social improvements that will allow players to more easily view their friends’ achievements, more quickly join games, and more efficiently communicate with each other. In addition, we’ll be making updates to the auction house in the future to provide players with better information through tooltips and notices, offer improved search functionality, and more.”

    18. Does the repetition of the idea of \using Diablo 3 to get gamers into other Blizzard games\ not concern anyone? The whole concept screams attention grab and then funnel them to other games. Meaning they don’t really see longevity in Diablo 3 other than to continue getting new players in and then funneling them to other games???

      To me what this means is they are using Diablo 3 to introduce a bunch of features that would be great in other games. Unlimited respecs, rmah, etc. So people go \well, this was fun til I hit 60, but if other Blizzard games have these features it’ll be awesome!\

      • Yeah, that rubbed me the wrong way. It’s almost as if they planned it to be a one play then drop type of game with the RMAH only there for the very limited addictive personalities rather than making a good lasting game.

    19. Blizzard sold a lot of Diablo 3 copies and this increased their profits, however this does not means that the sales are going to increase in the future, they still have a lot of work to do in order to attract new clients. They should check some of John Studzinski ideas and I am sure they won`t regret it, Mike knows a lot of things about marketing but sometimes you need new ideas that would increase the profits considerably.

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