The first-quarter results are in and Blizzard is reporting a massive 29% loss in its player base over the last three years.
Financially, the company is doing just fine despite the fact that players are leaving their games. Sales hit $2.28 billion, up from $1.79 billion in Q1 2020 according to the company’s financial report. But with new games still coming out and many beloved IPs still getting updated regularly, what has caused this drop for Blizzard?
There are likely more than a few reasons players haven’t been playing Blizzard titles in the last three years. The biggest reason may be that Blizzard hasn’t released a brand new title since Overwatch in 2016. Numerous remasters and re-releases have come out including Warcraft 3: Reforged and Diablo 2: Resurrected, but the only fresh content to come out of Blizzard since then has been expansions to World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.
Major projects that are still in development have also been lingering in limbo for years at this point. Diablo Immortal and Diablo IV were announced years ago at this point and details are scarce when it comes to both. Similarly, Overwatch 2 hasn’t been given a release date yet and many fans may have lost their patience with the developer while waiting.
Blizzard has also endured a steady stream of PR issues. The most high-profile was when pro Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai. Blitzchung was suspended, had his winnings stripped, and was banned from tournament play for one year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong during an esports broadcast.
Fans have also been very critical of Blizzard as of late after it was reported that CEO Bobby Kotick raked in $200 million in bonuses after the company laid off another 190 employees. This latest round of cuts came after an enormous purge from the company in 2019 hundreds of employees were laid off.
Because Blizzard produces a few esports titles and has given updates to game franchises such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo, it’s likely that their revenue will continue to increase, even if their player count decreases. This is already proven by the financial report, which states that profits are trending upward. Though Blizzard’s player base has dropped and its reputation has fallen off a cliff, the ability to effectively monetize its remaining players is keeping the company in the black.
However, the company is still banking on its upcoming titles to be major financial successes. The company is doing well financially, but if games like Overwatch and Diablo IV fail to deliver things may get dicey in the long term.