The PC is about to get more important for one of the biggest videogame companies in the world. According to Activision Blizzard's latest financial report, the PC platform outperformed consoles by $27 million at the start of 2023, continuing a trend with the Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch 2 publisher that's been consistent for nearly a year now.
Between January 1 and March 31, Activision made $666 million on PC versus $639 on console. Its PC segment also outsold its console business throughout half of last year, though console did outsell PC overall for Activision in 2022.
This is a notable change: As far back as far as I can look at Activision's publicly available financial reports, console has always been king. This was the case in the early 2000s at the peak of Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, in the 2010s when Call of Duty was on the rise, and even after Activision bought Blizzard in 2008 (WoW subscriptions were still big, but not Call of Duty big).
Activision's latest financial report marks the third quarter in a row that PC outsold console, and there's reason to believe the trend will continue throughout 2023. Activision attributes its 74% increase in PC revenue since this time last year to the success of Call of Duty and Overwatch 2, but it also specifically highlights higher revenues for WoW: Dragonflight and Diablo Immortal (two games that aren't on console).
PC has technically beaten consoles before in isolated quarterly periods for Activision (like June to Sept of 2021 for instance), but the nine-month streak could suggest a larger shift.
Blizzard is currently the largest factor in the PC's growth within Activision. While Blizzard games are only making about half as much as Call of Duty, 72% of that revenue is on PC and just 8% is on console. Call of Duty's revenue is more evenly split: 59% console, 26% PC, and 15% mobile. Blizzard's console audience could grow significantly when Diablo 4 launches in June simultaneously on PC and consoles (a first for the series).
Zoom out on Activision's numbers, and you can see the PC is gaining ground in Activision's yearly reports, too. Last year, the company recorded the smallest gap between console and PC revenue in recent history: just $100 million. That's several hundred million less than 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017. If the year goes on like this, 2023 could be the year that the PC becomes Activision's second-biggest platform behind mobile (Candy Crush continues to crush).
There's gold in these personalized computing hills, and Activision isn't the only one to have noticed. Microsoft surely likes to see its growing PC audience as it fights to unblock its $69 billion acquisition. Sony recently reaffirmed its commitment to developing PC ports for its biggest PlayStation games because, apparently, they make a ton of money.