· According to Electronic Art’s (EA), 25m people have registered to play its new Battle Royale game Apex Legends within the first week since its surprise launch (up from 10m within the first three days).
· The company also revealed that ‘well over’ 2m players played it concurrently at peak over the weekend (up from 1m).
· While it is too early to call Apex Legends a “Fortnite killer”, its impressive success story is without doubt very positive for EA – and may continue to cause doubt over other peers.
· I believe several factors contributed to the excitement generated around the new title, including its surprise launch and the use of prominent Twitch streamers to promote the game following the launch.
· It will be key to monitor viewership numbers on Twitch over the next few weeks to see whether Apex Legends can keep its current momentum with both streamers & viewers going.
· The company’s president, J. Allen Brack, confirmed Blizzard will “be reducing the number of non-development positions in North America and anticipate[s] a related process in our regional offices over the coming months subject to local requirements.”
· Core franchises will see developer count grow 20% over the coming years, but a net 8% headcount reduction has already started.
· FY18 net bookings of $7.26bn, below guidance of $7.48bn. The weakness was largely a result of weaker than expected sales and a worse pricing environment. Additionally, Blizzard in-game revenues disappointed and games such as Hearthstone and Overwatch saw sequential declines. King MAUs grew sequentially for the first time.
· FY18 Non-GAAP operating income was $2.48bn, broadly but below consensus $2.54bn. Weak 2019 outlook of a net bookings decline of 13% to $6.30bn (cons. $7.29bn) and non-GAAP EPS of $2.10 (cons $2.53). Key driver of this is less Blizzard releases in 2019 (vs 2018) + soft Blizzard in-game, no Destiny in Activision (and flat Activision ex-Destiny) and higher investment in core franchises across all business units.
· Shares traded up following the Q4 miss and weak guidance – perhaps the market believes we have moved into oversold territory.