Don’t Underestimate Activision’s Mobile Games

Regardless of being most notable for its PC and console video games, online game big Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has been making a push into cellular for a number of years. Maybe that is unsurprising given the cellular gaming market is greater than twice the scale of every other platform.

Activision inventory has jumped near 50% within the final yr, and it exhibits no indicators of slowing down. Actually, the corporate simply introduced it expects to exceed administration’s beforehand issued first-quarter steering. From hit titles like Name of Responsibility to much less widespread names like Crash Bandicoot, Activision seems to be producing development throughout the board, and cellular is a giant a part of that.

Picture supply: Activision Blizzard.

Cross-platform titles

As I discussed earlier, Activision is well-known for its presence within the console and PC gaming markets, particularly with its legacy franchises like Name of Responsibility and Diablo. However in 2019, Activision launched Name of Responsibility: Cellular, and inside the first few weeks, it had amassed greater than 100 million downloads globally. Though it does not value any cash to play, Name of Responsibility: Cellular generates income by in-app purchases as customers make upgrades to their respective characters. 

In Activision Blizzard’s newest earnings launch, the corporate introduced Name of Responsibility: Cellular reported its greatest quarter ever, led by double-digit development in bookings. To cap off the strong quarter, Name of Responsibility: Cellular additionally launched in China in late December, reaching greater than 50 million installs inside a matter of months. Since China is the most important cellular market on this planet, administration additionally acknowledged that this success units “the muse for significant contribution in 2021.”

Past Name of Responsibility, one other legacy title that just lately made an entry into cellular was Diablo, the role-playing motion recreation that launched within the Nineties. Nevertheless, when Activision first introduced Diablo Immortal at BlizzCon 2018, it was met with heavy criticism from the franchise’s avid fan base. Since then, Activision has been strategic about its Diablo Immortal rollout and supplies little or no perception into what lies forward. Whereas the sport hasn’t formally been launched, CEO Bobby Kotick stated Diablo Immortal‘s regional testing was “extraordinarily well-received,” which ought to bode effectively for its official launch someday in 2021. 

King’s revival

King Digital was introduced beneath the Activision Blizzard umbrella after being acquired for $5.9 billion in money in 2016. King is house to fashionable cellular video games like Sweet Crush and Bubble Witch, and for the reason that acquisition, it has elevated income whereas additionally boosting its working margin from 34% to 40%. 

However regardless of the sturdy monetary efficiency, the typical month-to-month energetic consumer rely has really dropped roughly 36% for the reason that acquisition. This regular decline appears to have stabilized in 2020, and administration expressed optimism that it may appeal to each outdated and new customers again to its hit titles because of new social and aggressive options. Whereas reversing consumer developments nonetheless requires additional execution, King appears to be on the best path to show issues round. 

One other contributor to King’s latest revival has been the rise of Crash Bandicoot. Although Activision first gained possession of the title by its merger with Blizzard Leisure in 2008, it seems to be beneath the King umbrella now.

The sport relies on the unique Crash franchise and has ranked excessive on the charts just lately amongst free cellular video games. Now, with greater than 27 million downloads, Crash Bandicoot‘s in-app purchases ought to begin to drive significant income for the King section. 

Cellular nonetheless issues

Whereas Activision Blizzard’s bigger titles typically steal the headlines, it is price remembering that its cellular income grew 16% final yr and now makes up 32% of total gross sales. Having now discovered the best income combine for its King titles, regaining misplaced customers and attracting new ones would drive substantial development for the corporate. 

Although Activision at the moment trades at what some buyers would possibly name a premium valuation — 34 occasions its trailing 12-month free money circulation — the corporate is firing on all cylinders, and shareholders ought to count on continued development from right here. 

This text represents the opinion of the author, who could disagree with the “official” advice place of a Motley Idiot premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one in every of our personal — helps us all assume critically about investing and make choices that assist us develop into smarter, happier, and richer.