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Blizzard Monthly Active Users Drops as Revenue Climbs

Blizzard is losing monthly active users even as its revenue climbs.
Blizzard is losing monthly active users even as its revenue climbs. / Photo courtesy of Blizzard

Blizzard is losing millions of monthly active users over time, but the company's revenue continues to climb, according to its latest quarterly earnings report.

Blizzard's numbers show it has 27 million monthly active users across its games. Although that number is very impressive, it represented a 29% drop from the first quarter of 2018, when Blizzard had 38 million monthly active players. Two million of those players left the ecosystem between the last quarter of 2020 and the first of 2021, a fairly stark drop-off.

Even as it bleeds users, Blizzard has managed to increase its revenue by 7% year-over-year. World of Warcraft remains its stalwart money maker, buoyed by the Shadowlands expansion released in November 2020. World of Warcraft Classic has also helped anchor Blizzard players, and its next expansion, The Burning Crusade, will launch later this year.

Blizzard appears to be pinning its new user acquisition hopes on a few upcoming major releases: Diablo II Resurrected, Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 and mobile ARPG Diablo Immortal. Resurrected and Immortal will lead that charge, as both are set for release later this year. Activision confirmed Blizzard has remained on schedule to release its games despite disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic during the same earnings call.

But COVID isn't all that's disrupted Blizzard's work. The studio has suffered multiple rounds of layoffs and several of its top brass defecting over the past few years. Co-founders Frank Pearce and Mike Morhaime left in 2018, and Morhaime has since founded Dreamhaven, a new games company full of Blizzard veterans. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan also left Blizzard last month after nearly two decades with the company.

Blizzard's also found itself in hot water for political reasons. Its punishment of Hearthstone pro Ng Wai "blitzchung" Chung over expressing support for Hong Kong democracy demonstrators prompted responses from members of the US Congress and a boycott in 2019. Another controversy related to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China is currently rippling through the Overwatch League, though Blizzard has yet to respond to the news.

Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 are Blizzard's most high profile upcoming releases, and neither has a release date. It remains to be seen if it can sustain its revenue growth as time stretches out before their releases.