Blizzard’s player count is unchanged this quarter, despite controversy and Diablo 2 launch

In today’s Activision Blizzard financial report, the company reported 26 million monthly active users for the Blizzard side of the business across the three months ending on September 30, unchanged from the figure reported for the previous quarter. It seems that in terms of player sentiment, a sexual harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, rising controversy over the direction of World of Warcraft, and the launch of Diablo II: Resurrected essentially balance out.

Blizzard reported 30 million monthly active users in the third quarter of 2020, so player numbers are down this year. But the company says revenue is up 20% year-over-year, “driven by the successful launch of Diablo II: Resurrected”, and adds that “first week sales of the title were the highest recorded for a remaster from the company”.

The 26 million monthly active users for Blizzard over the past two quarters is the lowest figure that side of the company has reported since Q1 of 2016, when Activision Blizzard started providing MAU metrics to begin with.

Here’s how the monthly active user numbers for Blizzard break down over the past two years.

  • Q3 2019 – 33 million MAUs
  • Q4 2019 – 32 million MAUs
  • Q1 2020 – 32 million MAUs
  • Q2 2020 – 32 million MAUs
  • Q3 2020 – 30 million MAUs
  • Q4 2020 – 29 million MAUs
  • Q1 2021 – 27 million MAUs
  • Q2 2021 – 26 million MAUs
  • Q3 2021 – 26 million MAUs

During today’s financial report, Blizzard also announced delays for Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, and revealed that recently-appointed co-leader Jen Oneal would be stepping down.

Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here. In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.

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