Activision Blizzard, the video game company behind hits like "Call of Duty" and "Overwatch," plans a major expansion into mobile gaming as people spend more time playing games on their smartphones. The company plans to bring "all our franchise to mobile over time," Daniel Alegre, president and chief operating officer of Activision Blizzard, said in a conference call with investors.
"Call of Duty: Mobile" has been downloaded more than 300 million times worldwide since its October 2019 release and was the highest-grossing game in U.S. app stores, Rob Kostich, president of the company's Activision unit, said during the call. More than 50 million people in China have pre-registered for the game, which is in the final stage of testing in the country, he said.
The company forecast that fourth-quarter revenue will exceed $2 billion, which would bring the yearly total to $7.7 billion, up from a February forecast of $6.45 billion. Its revenue rose 52% to $1.95 billion in the third quarter from a year earlier, per a quarterly report. The push into mobile could expand opportunities for marketers to reach the publisher's audience of gamers who are elusive on other media channels.
Activision Blizzard's bigger push into mobile gaming is likely to offer mobile marketers more opportunities to reach audiences on the company's games that sell advertising space, such as "Candy Crush Saga." The company's media sales group touts the power of games to reach key consumer groups, such as women with children who make most of the purchase decisions in households.
About half (46%) of moms worldwide play video games, and 74% of those play games daily on a mobile device, according to the company's research. That level of engagement makes mobile games compelling for advertisers seeking to reach consumers who are elusive to other media channels.
The company's surging revenue comes as people spend more time playing mobile games while stuck at home during the pandemic. The mobile games market will expand by 13% to $77.2 billion this year amid rising smartphone usage, according to an estimate by researcher Newzoo. The company estimated the market will grow by 33% to $102.8 billion in 2023, with particular strength in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, China, the U.S. and Japan will remain the three biggest markets for mobile games during the period, per Newzoo.
Activision Blizzard has worked to grow its advertising sales and sponsorships of esports events amid the growing popularity of gaming as well. The company in August introduced a cloud-based artificial intelligence technology to embed native advertising into esports videos. The company started using the technology during its livestreams of the Call of Duty League, the global esports group with 12 professional teams from cities worldwide.
Almost half (41%) of gamers who watch esports have bought a product after seeing the brand in a sponsored game, streaming or event, Reach3 Insights found in a study. The high response rate is an indication of the power of games to engage consumers, improve brand recall and drive sales.