Blizzard Has Shed 10 Million Players Since 2017

activision blizzardImage: Supplied

It hasn't been a great month for Blizzard. Warcraft 3: Reforged has completely fallen over, the company's bled talent from their esports division, and Overwatch fans are grumbling about a lack of content. And the grumbling appears to have taken a toll on the Blizzard fanbase, with Activision reporting a 1 million dip in Blizzard's monthly active users for the fourth quarter.

The figures were contained in the release for Activision-Blizzard's fourth quarter results, which was "better than expected" largely due to Call of Duty and the ongoing growth of King, the makers of Candy Crush and Candy Crush Saga.

For the third quarter of 2019, Blizzard had a combined 33 million active users across all its games. There's a qualifier here in that someone who plays two Blizzard games would be counted as double users, and anyone who plays the same game across multiple devices is also double-counted "due to technical limitations".

Still, the numbers are still a stable barometer for Blizzard: either more people are playing Blizzard games, or they aren't. And over the last quarter, Blizzard's monthly MAUs dropped from 33 million to 32 million, despite growth from the new Hearthstone expansion, Descent of Dragons, its free Battlegrounds battle royale mode, and the release of Overwatch on the Switch.

Update: Here's a slide from CNBC comparing the monthly active users from Q3 to Q4:

Image: CNBC

The figures depend on the lens you take. In one sense, they show that Blizzard fans haven't really gone anywhere despite a lot of the turbulence from the last year. Blizzard reported 35 million MAUs in February last year, 32 million MAUs in May, 32 million MAUs in August, and 33 million MAUs in November.

But the total figure for Blizzard's fanbase is still down 5 million monthly active users from when Battle for Azeroth launched, 8 million down from the fourth quarter of 2017, and 10 million down from the quarter before that. That's basically a quarter of Blizzard's total player base gone over the last few years, and Blizzard hasn't had the benefit of launching a mammoth mobile game like Call of Duty Mobile to shore up the bottom line.

It's even worse if you wind the clock back to Q2 2017, when Blizzard reported 46 million MAUs thanks to seasonal Overwatch events and growth in Hearthstone.

Fortunately for the company, Activision is remaining bullish on Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. The release of Diablo Immortal is likely to boost the company's overall numbers a tad, and the fact that it plays like Diablo 3 will probably help immensely among Western gamers. Blizzard also confirmed that Diablo Immortal would begin "regional tests" in the middle of this year.


Comments

    What would you expect with all the controversies last year and this year ... Then they say 'look at all this new stuff coming' but basically imply nothing new for next +6-12 months for any of their main franchises..

    Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 have been put out to pasture.
    Heroes of the Storm had its team gutted and put elsewhere.
    Overwatch is dying.
    WoW suffered another not great expansion.
    Warcraft 3 Reforged spit in the face of everyone who loved the original.
    Hearthstone is still pumping along with expansions, I don't know how well it's doing.

    It's not a surprise; 2010+ Blizzard have generally made poor decisions for most of the last decade, and it's only going to get worse from here.

    Seriously, it's extraordinary that WoW continues to have the legs it does given it's a long way from the cultural behemoth it was a decade ago.

    I'm sure that Blizzard would prefer the numbers to be going the other way, but under the circumstances they still look like they're doing pretty damn well to me.

      Yeah, there's a lot of ways to slice this up and look at it: either as a base for what could happen when more things come to mobile and D4 / Overwatch 2 launch, as the result of decisions over the last five years or a story on how they've handled their esports environment and the reduction in engagement, or how they've maintained stability in the MAUs over the year despite all of that. It's interesting to look through.

    I mean, I'm not spending anymore money with Blizzard. Even though I have bought and played every single one of their games. I just miss the company that I loved.

    So WoW Classic didn't have much of an impact then?

      i seriously doubt Classic would suddenly bring back millions of players. it's been over a decade since the first expansion came out and that's basically the cater audience of vanilla. if you've left because Blizzard ruined WoW in Wrath or any of the newer expansions vanilla ain't going to scratch that itch

      I think also WoW MAU is only for people with >= 1 month sub... so if you're trying the game, playing because a friend invited you or coming during a free weekend then you're not counted

      "World of Warcraft exited 2019 with an active player community more than twice the size of its Q2-ending level"

      Looks to me like it doubled the subscribers.

    I don't see these numbers surprising, as Razor said, SC, Diablo and HoTS is basically dead.

    BFA was a lukewarm expansion for WoW at best (there's always an intiial surge when an expansion launches) and now that WCIII reforged has tanked you're basically left with OW and Hearthstone

      heroes isn't dead. esports was shut down but imo most players don't play for that reason. there was a full house of heroes players at BlizzCon 2019. there's still plenty of room for more content. heroes players are some of blizzard's most passionate and loyal fans and they aren't going to be pulling the plug any time soon.

      this industry really loves to declare stuff dead, but not all of us see games as disposable.

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