If you were hoping for Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4 to drop this year to scratch some long-lost itches that Blizzard historically filled, then you might want to put a pin in those hopes for a full year.
Activision-Blizzard held their quarterly earnings call Friday morning Australian time, which naturally precipitated an update on how Blizzard was doing. The company more broadly is going great, largely thanks to Call of Duty continuing to pop off.
“We had the best year in our 30-year history,” Bobby Kotick, Activision-Blizzard CEO, told Yahoo News. And it’s not hard to see why: Call of Duty active monthly users surpassed 128 million. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and ongoing Warzone updates saw in-game net bookings growing over 50 per cent year on year. Call of Duty Mobile launching in China is a huge feat for the studio too, and Activision-Blizzard expects its success in the West will translate over.
But on the Blizzard front, things are stagnating. After having 35 million monthly active users in the same quarter of 2018, Blizzard’s monthly active users dropped to 29 million. The Blizzard slide of the investor presentation was also missing some major franchises, which was an indicator of what to expect throughout the rest of the year:
“We are already seeing the impact of our growth initiatives for Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, which we expect to again drive strong results in 2021,” Blizzard’s results said. “And at the same time, we are making significant progress against our development pipeline for other key intellectual properties, which we expect to fuel further growth in 2022 and beyond.”
No StarCraft, no Hearthstone, and Diablo Immortal instead of Diablo 4. And that’s no surprise, because the company went on to stress that Blizzard would have a substantial “2022”, strongly indicating that’s when Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 will drop.
“At Blizzard in particular, our teams are hard at work on Diablo 4, Overwatch 2 and multiple mobile titles,” investors were told. “We anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard.”
The Activision-Blizzard executive did reveal that the Overwatch 2 team met a “major internal milestone” in December. It wasn’t specified what precisely that milestone was, but J. Allen Brack mentioned that “hundreds” of developers were involved in its internal testing.
“Overwatch 2 is another great example, we’ve successfully passed an internal milestone in December, that involved testing many key features of the game with hundreds of developers across Blizzard,” Brack, president of Blizzard, said. “We’re happy with how that game’s progressing.”
More information about Overwatch 2, Diablo 4 and upcoming Diablo Immortal tests will be announced at BlizzConline, the virtual replacement for the annual Blizzcon festival that was canned due to COVID-19. That’ll take place across February 19 and February 20, but the show will be completely free throughout, unlike previous years.