Activision Blizzard is the biggest publisher in the business, but the one thing it doesn't have in its stable is a battle royale juggernaut like, say, Fortnite. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick acknowledged that shortcoming today with Bloomberg, saying that "Fortnite is definitely a lot of competition right now."
Not too much competition: Despite the pressure from Epic's multiplayer juggernaut, Activision today reported record net bookings, revenues, and operating cash flow for the quarter. Call of Duty monthly average users are up, World of Warcraft is enjoying "overperformance," and Overwatch continues to grow, with the recent Retribution seasonal event having the highest rate of participation to date.
Things are going well, in other words, but even so the battle royale genre, driven by Fortnite and PUBG, is simply too big to ignore, and Kotick said that Activision will adapt to meet the challenges they present. "The idea of new competition is going to be a staple for gaming," he said. "For most new franchises, this will be an important mode of play."
Interestingly, Activision suggested in an earnings call today that its battle royale focus might actually be on mobile devices, rather than PC or console. "[The success of Fortnite] is highlighting the ability to successfully bring immersive gaming experiences like battle royale to mobile in both Western and Eastern audiences, or markets," CFO Spencer Adam Neumann said during the call. "And that's really encouraging as we think about our future mobile opportunities, and our growth opportunities generally as gaming becomes increasingly mainstream."
"When we see people innovate in an interesting and impactful way, we are very quick to figure out how to capture inspiration from innovation," CEO Bobby Kotick added. "We as a company, in our DNA, in our culture, when we see things that appeal to our audiences, we are very good at being inspired by those."
Kotick's comments reflect those of investment firm Oppenheimer, which said in March that the publisher is "keenly aware" of what other companies are doing with the genre, and that it is a "faster follower," implying that it could soon make a battle royale move of its own.