Activision Blizzard Releases Q2 Financials, CEO Addresses Lawsuit With Token Platitudes
Activision Blizzard revealed its financial results for Q2 2021 yesterday, but most people weren't half as interested in the numbers as they were for the company's response to its recent barrage of bad news. The report led with a line from CEO Bobby Kotick: "With respect to our financial performance, we are pleased that the company continued to deliver strong results in the second quarter, and we are raising our outlook for the year." Good luck with that.
As far as the numbers go, there was nothing too surprising revealed. Keep in mind that these reflect financial results through the end of Q2, or June 30, a few weeks before the current controversy started. Net revenues for the quarter were $2.3 billion, up slightly from Q1 2021 and up 19% from the same quarter in 2020. In-game net bookings were down slightly year-over-year.
Blizzard claimed 26 million monthly active users (MAUs) during the quarter, with the usual suspects -- World of Warcraft/WoW Classic and Hearthstone -- being called out for their good performances, with Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 both described as making good progress. (By the way, did you know that Hearthstone's latest expansion launched yesterday? We didn't.)
As for the sexual harassment claims and pending legal action, the report did include a paragraph with the heading "Commitment to a Safe Working Environment." It acknowledged the current controversy and said that the company has "engaged a law firm to conduct a review of our policies and procedures." That firm is WilmerHale, which has already been rejected by employees for its "union-busting" activities. The rest of the paragraph speaks of Activision Blizzard's commitment to "investigating employee concerns," "imposing appropriate consequences" for wrongdoers, and a commitment "to creating the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible."
The transcript of the open Q&A session following the investors' call is curiously not available on the website at this time, as it has been the day after such calls in the past. What we're hearing, though, is that the questions were relatively mild and predictable, and Kotick responded with answers that were just as predictable. His too-late hardline stance that there's "no place in our company where discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind will be tolerated" and hollow appreciation for "the current and former employees who have come forward" -- as one of his top-level executives decries whistleblowing -- served only to mollify shareholders, his primary concern, and will do nothing to please fans or players.
Sadly, that appears to have worked, at least in the short term, as the company's stock prices rebounded from a significant drop the morning after the call:
We'll check back with that in three months, when the full effect of the lawsuit and surrounding circumstances have a fuller effect on Blizzard's bottom line.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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