You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Activision Blizzard Shrugs off Hong Kong Uproar, Beats Q3 Earnings Expectations

Controversy? What controversy? As Activision Blizzard reported its fiscal Q3 earnings Thursday afternoon, there was no mention at all of a recent backlash over the company’s controversial suspension of one of its players. Instead, executives celebrated better-than-expected results, and promised to more aggressively embrace mobile gaming.

The gaming company generated $1.28 billion in sales in the quarter ending September 30, compared to $1.5 billion during the same quarter a year ago. Net income for the quarter was $204 million, which translates to non-adjusted earnings per share of $0.38. In Q3 of 2018, non-adjusted earnings per share were $0.42.

Analysts had expected non-adjusted earnings per share of $0.23. However, investors were apparently turned off by the fact that Activision’s business still hasn’t fully recovered from  the company’s split with “Destiny” developer Bungie, which was announced earlier this year. Activision Blizzard’s share price fell close to 3% in after-hours trading.

One of the subjects analysts were probing on the company’s earnings call Thursday afternoon was its mobile strategy; some of Activision’s biggest titles are still PC- and console-only, leaving an opening for companies like Epic to dominate mobile gaming.

Popular on Variety

Activision did release “Call of Duty Mobile” in October, and president and chief operating officer Coddy Johnson suggested Wednesday that the company would follow up with other titles in the near future. “A third of our business is on mobile already,” he said. “It is a massive opportunity, and we think not just for ‘Call of Duty’.”

“There are more to come,” he added. “We are anxious to move.”

But while analysts had some pointed questions about Activision Blizzard’s business strategy on the company’s earnings call, they didn’t once mention the threat of boycotts announced against the company in conjunction with its handling of a recent protest.

“Hearthstone” gamer Ng Wai Chung, better known under his gamer handle Blitzchung, used a live stream following the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters tournament to call for the liberation of Hong Kong last month. Blizzard initially responded by taking away Chung’s prize money, and banning him from all professional competitions for one year.

The company justified this step by pointing to tournament rules that don’t allow players to offend parts of their audience, or otherwise tarnish the company’s image. However, the move caused outrage among fans of “Hearthstone” and other Activision Blizzard titles, with some prominent players even threatening to boycott the company.

Blizzard ultimately relented, if only a bit, and reinstated Chung’s prize money, while also reducing his ban to 6 months. However, executives continued to insist that Chung had to be punished for his political statements, with company president J. Allen Brack declaring in a statement: “There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.”

Critics have argued that Blizzard’s crack-down on political speech was motivated by its financial ties to China. Chinese gaming giant Tencent holds a 5% stake in the company, and China has been a major market for Activision Blizzard.

Brack rejected those claims last month, saying: “The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: Our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.”

Those statements were somewhat undercut by messages put out on Activision Blizzard’s social media accounts in China, including one that declared that the company would “resolutely safeguard [China’s] national dignity.”

More Gaming

  • The Game Awards

    The Game Awards 2019 Nominees: 'Death Stranding,' 'Control' Lead the Field (Full List)

    The Game Awards 2019 unveiled nominations for this year’s event, led by Hideo Kojima’s epic “Death Stranding” with nine nods and Remedy/505 Games’ “Control” with eight nominations. This year’s Game of the Year nominees, in addition to “Control” and “Death Stranding,” are “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Resident Evil 2,” “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” and “The [...]

  • Google Stadia

    Google Stadia Reviews: Game-Streaming Service Not Ready for Primetime

    The first takes on Google Stadia, the internet giant’s new game-streaming service that debuts Nov. 19, are out. And the consensus is that Stadia is needed more time in the oven before it was served up to the gaming crowd. Google’s big promise with Stadia is that players can access top-tier game titles without a [...]

  • Game Awards OrchestraThe Game Awards, Show,

    Game Awards 2019 to Play on 53 Cinemark Screens Alongside 'Jumanji: The Next Level'

    This year’s Game Awards, recognizing the top video games, creators and esports of 2019, is coming to the silver screen. In a three-way partnership, the Game Awards, Cinemark Theatres and Sony Pictures are teaming on a superticket program pairing the Dec. 12 live simulcast of the 2019 Game Awards in 53 Cinemark locations with a [...]

  • John Carmack John Carmack, Chief Technical

    Oculus CTO John Carmack to Step Down

    One of the driving forces behind Facebook’s virtual reality efforts is leaving his post: Oculus CTO John Carmack announced Wednesday afternoon that he was transitioning to a “consulting CTO” role this week, and devote most of his time to new challenges outside of the company. “I will still have a voice in the development work, [...]

  • Magic Leap Raising Another Funding Round

    Magic Leap Is Raising Another Big Funding Round

    Augmented reality startup Magic Leap is raising even more money. The company is currently in the process of raising its Series E round of funding, a spokesperson told Variety on Monday. Magic Leap previously raised around $2.6 billion, including $280 million from NTT Docomo in April. “Magic Leap is in the midst of a significant [...]

  • terminator vr

    VRstudios Launches 'Terminator' VR Experience at Dave & Buster's (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just in time for the launch of the new “Terminator: Dark Fate” movie, Dave & Buster’s is getting a “Terminator: Guardian of Fate” virtual reality experience, courtesy of VRstudios. The experience, which features the voice of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, is launching at 130 Dave & Buster’s locations across the U.S. Just like previous [...]

  • Death Stranding

    'Death Stranding': How PlayStation Tackled the Unique, Mysterious Marketing Campaign

    There are a few reasons why “Death Stranding” might seem like a marketing slam dunk. It’s the first game from Hideo Kojima, the video game legend behind the “Metal Gear” series, since 2015, and also the first since he reformed his Kojima Productions into an independent studio, partnered with Sony Interactive Entertainment. It boasts Hollywood [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content