Hearthstone Data Points

[Blaugust Day 6]

It has been yet another Blizzard Investor Report in which Hearthstone metrics have been bundled or otherwise obscured, but this latest report added a few more variables with which to solve for X.

One of the juicier parts was this bit (provided by TheStreet):

Note that this quarter was an important inflection point for Blizzard. In spite of World of Warcraft subscriber declines, which were more concentrated in the East and partly affected by the success of Diablo III in China, Blizzard grew its Q2 revenues 29% year over year at constant FX.

This performance was driven by the strong performances of Diablo, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm, which in Q2 made up the majority of Blizzard revenues. The franchise diversification inside Blizzard is happening rapidly, and even more importantly, the aggregate Blizzard community is healthy and growing.

In order to fill in some blanks, we now have to turn to the Activision Blizzard website. According to the slides (PDF) and press release (PDF), we get some more data points:

  • Destiny, Hearthstone, & Heroes of the Storm: >70M players & >$1.25B non-GAAP* revenues, LTD
  • Destiny: >20 million registered players have played about 100 hours each since launch
  • Diablo III has sold-through over 30 million units to date globally
  • Hearthstone: Key engagement metrics nearly doubled year over year, largely on account of the new content/platforms.
  • Overall Q2 net revenue GAAP = $1.044 billion, non-GAAP = $759 million.
  • WoW specific GAAP revenue for Q2 = $221 million; non-GAAP $157 million.
  • Asia Pacific net revenue for entire company: GAAP $105 million, non-GAAP $131 million.
  • Blizzard specific revenue for Q2: $385 million.

That last data point was not specific in whether it was GAAP or non-GAAP, but I’m assuming it is the latter as otherwise WoW couldn’t be less than half of the Blizzard total, which is what was stated in in the investor report. So here are a few of rudimentary calculations we can draw:

  1. Blizzard’s non-WoW revenue for Q2 = $228 million (385 – 157).
  2. Hearthstone + Heroes of the Storm registered players = ~50 million
  3. Hearthstone = 30+ million registered players as of 6/5/15.
  4. Ergo, Heroes of the Storm has ~20 million registered players (70 = 20 + 30 + X).
  5. Destiny + Hearthstone brought in $850 million in 2014.
  6. The Q1 2015 report (PDF) stated Destiny + Hearthstone had $1 billion non-GAAP revenue LTD.
  7. Destiny + Hearthstone + Heroes of the Storm = ~$250 million combined in Q2 (1.25b – 1b).
  8. Diablo 3 sold 20 million copies as of August 2014. Thus sold another 10 million copies in last year.

So… yeah. Still feels like we’re missing too much information to draw any major conclusions.

That said, we can deduce that Hearthstone made less than $250 million in Q2, and less than $150 million in Q1. How much less remains to be seen. Also, while a lot of noise was made about the (F2P!) success of Diablo 3 in China, it bears mentioning that all franchises in both Activision and Blizzard (including WoW) totaled $131 million in revenue in China. In other words, it isn’t as though Chinese Diablo 3 is going to claim the lion’s share of the non-WoW pie.

As always, if you see an error or otherwise have put enough skill points in Language (Economics) to make better sense of the Investor Report numbers, by all means correct me in the comments below. If I had to guess, I’d peg Hearthstone at around $75-$100 million per quarter.

Posted on August 6, 2015, in Hearthstone and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Now try to convince Syncaine that Hearthstone is making around $75-$100 million per quarter. :-D


    • According to Nosygamer, eve online has a max of 342,000 accounts as of the elections
      Meaning their revenues are about $15-16m/quarter.
      You’re telling me that Hearthstone is making six times more money that Eve?
      With probably a tenth of the development costs?

      Can someone tell Syncaine while I watch??



      • …damn. When you put it that way, it’s really a wonder that MMOs were ever considered a “get rich quick” scheme for these studios. I mean, $60 million a year is nothing to scoff at, but I don’t know if even Syncaine would be willing to claim Hearthstone makes less than that.


      • So we are saying a ‘mass-market’ mobile game, that’s Blizzard-backed, using the Warcraft IP, across multiple platforms, supported by a large advertising push (including prime-time TV), is generating more revenue than a hardcore Sci-Fi MMO? Holy shit alert the presses. What’s next, someone ‘discovering’ that CoC makes more money per month than most of the MMO genre does in a year? Tell me it ain’t so! Why is anyone making an MMO?!

        The comparison simply doesn’t work. HS hasn’t been around for as long as EVE has. It will never reach a 10th anniversary. It won’t generate the total amount of profit EVE has to build a CCP, nor will HS ever become a CoC to build a SuperCell.

        Again, is HS a success? Yes, it’s profitable for reasons we have already covered (being ‘massively successful’ or ‘a really solidly designed game’ not being the reasons). Is it a top mobile title like EVE is a top MMO? Nope. Is it a major contributor to the bottom line for Activision-Blizzard like WoW or Destiny or CoD? Nope. Is it one of the first Blizzard titles to not be a ‘top tier’ title? Yes.


      • Is it a top mobile title like EVE is a top MMO? Nope.

        Is it the top digital CCG, possibly more profitable than Magic Online already? Yep. Will it continue to the eat the lunch of all other digital CCGs for the foreseeable future? Absolutely.

        Glad we finally agree on Hearthstone’s overall success. Now we just have to wait to determine the exact degree.


      • Almost any game is the top game if you define the category down far enough. ARK is the worlds biggest sandbox game with dinos! Payday 2 is the worlds most successful 4-player heist FPS shooter! Darkest Dungeon is the most profitable 4-part rogue-like dungeon explorer with a terror mechanic!

        Notice I didn’t say EVE is a top Sci-Fi MMO, or top sandbox MMO; it’s just a top MMO period that built a studio. Same for CoC; its a top mobile game, period, that built a studio. HS is a top 20ish mobile game, and not remotely close to a top profit generator at Activision-Blizzard.

        That you have to go and define HS success as better than a horrid version of MtG (maybe, thanks bundling-of-uncertainty that can’t possibly be done to hide something), isn’t a big win for HS IMO.


      • I wasn’t aware that “CCGs” was a particularly drilled-down category. You’ve consistently put Hearthstone up against all mobile games, which is equivalent to comparing EVE to all PC games, in which it would barely register. In the genre of game that it is, Hearthstone has all but unseated all challengers, including the digital version of the game that invented the genre.

        As for EVE, it’s getting less relevant all the time. It’s losing subscribers at some unknown rate – CCP hasn’t released numbers for years now – and if you stack MMOs up by revenue, EVE’s place drops further. Unless I’m converting these figures incorrectly, even Aion made $17 million last quarter, for example; nevermind GW2 and Lineage 1, which made morn. And that’s just NCSoft. Oh, wait, you meant “top Western MMO that still has subscriptions.” Gotcha.

        Considering CCP’s follow-ups have been abysmal disasters, I’m not even sure you can credit the studio for being particularly good at making games.


      • The online card genre (CCG like HS and TCG like MtG:O, because talking JUST CCG is a one-game conversation) consists of what games? HEX and…? At least with EVE and MMOs, we can easily name dozens of serious titles before getting into hyper-niche territory. As for the importance of EVE, we both know that’s an easy conversation, both from an innovation perspective (mega-servers, PLEX, in-game history, tourneys, corp/alliance-sizes, battle-sizes, etc) and revenue/profit over its lifetime, which is far greater than Aion, GW2, etc (Lineage 1 is a beast that likely only trails WoW)

        And again, even if the online card genre was something remotely close to the MMO genre, that still leaves HS as a footnote of revenue for Activision-Blizzard, which is again a first for Blizzard. Never before HS have they released a game that WASN’T a mega-hit. Not a mega-hit RTS, not a mega-hit ARPG, not a mega-hit MMO, but a mega-hit period. Sure, HS is better than HotS, which might turn out to be a total flop, but ‘not a flop’ is a new low bar for Blizzard.


      • Magic: the Gathering Online
        Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers series (RIP)
        Magic: Duels (or whatever the F2P version is now)
        Scrolls (RIP)
        Infinity Wars
        Card Hunter (debatable)
        Might & Magic: Duel of Champions (?)

        There are also about a million and a half card games on iOS and Android, for what it’s worth. Would Ascension count? The only reason I specify “CCG” is simply to segment it away from stuff like Solitaire and Poker and anything else that uses normal playing cards.

        As for being a footnote… uh, did we read the same investor reports? Blizzard’s performance was buoyed by Hearthstone and that was called out specifically:

        We have an increasing focus on mobile and tablet. Hearthstone’s release on iOS and Android smartphones in April through the player base has been a key driver of our performance in Q2 and should benefit us for the foreseeable future.


        This performance was driven by the strong performances of Diablo, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm, which in Q2 made up the majority of Blizzard revenues.


        Bobby Kotick (CEO):
        Yes, that’s a great question. We’ve said over the last few years that we see competitive gaming as great growth opportunity for the Company, and obviously, a great way to celebrate our players. The franchises like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm and Call of Duty and then future franchises like Overwatch are going to be among the most important of all eSport franchises.

        Hearthstone was mentioned 21 times in the investor report. If you want a footnote, you should probably check out Starcraft 2 these days.


      • Dude your list of games is MtG, HEX, and then a bunch of titles I suspect few have heard about, not to mention having to include a few dead games. Not a compelling argument in the least.

        As for the rest, lot of words without a lot of numbers to back them up. Again, why is it we got D3 numbers, but for HS we got number of fireside chats? Are the HS number just so awesome they don’t want to share on an investor call? Come on now. Blizzard was so quick to let us know HS was profitable, and that it reached a bunch of free accounts. Why aren’t they equally as quick to provide actual numbers, even when directly asked?

        I’m glad Bobby thinks HS, HotS, and Overwatch are going to be significant factors in eSports though, that’s totally going to work out for him.

        Or is he using your definition of ‘significant’, which means those titles will be footnotes to LoL/DotA2 and other actual significant eSport titles?


      • The “numbers” we got from D3 are the lifetime units sold… across all platforms, presumably including the F2P version from China. Did Blizzard break down how much revenue D3 brought in? Did they specify that D3 + expansion counts as one copy sold or two? I’ve looked over both the transcript of the earnings call and the actual report and haven’t seen anything more specific than that. If you have some sort of hard figures from somewhere, by all means share with the class. Otherwise, it’s the same vague nonsense Activision Blizzard has always used, which cannot be used as a criticism of Hearthstone more than anything else.

        In any case, I think the earnings call made it abundantly clear that Hearthstone is not a “footnote” to the company, especially when it and Diablo are apparently the only thing keeping Blizzard’s financials on the positive side as WoW sheds millions of subscribers every quarter.

        Again, if you want a footnote, look for all the mentions of StarCraft 2.


      • Sadly, SynCaine doesn’t accept SuperData figures for anything.


  2. 75m is a bit high, as I think Destiny and HotS (since it just launched, so benefited from a one-time revenue spike) make up a larger chunk of that 250m than 150-175m. If the 75m number is correct, that would suggest HS is generating almost as much revenue as Destiny, and yea, that’s not happening. Again, if it was, Blizzard would have said something about its financials like they did with D3, but they didn’t, and instead we got how many fireside chats or whatever they held.

    Also I think your HotS account number is high; I think HS gained more accounts thanks to the iphone and android launch since the 6/5 30m announcement. Either way though it doesn’t really matter as its free accounts, especially with HS/HotS given both are on b.net.

    I haven’t looked at the numbers report, but are you sure about those China numbers for WoW and D3? If they are correct, it shows that not only is China not a major factor for WoW, but that the box price for D3 must have been fairly low (since the call talked box sales in China, not the number of free accounts created). Something just doesn’t add up to me there, but again I haven’t actually looked at the numbers myself.


    • The iPhone/Android launch was in April, so the initial rush should likely have been over. Even if it wasn’t, I fully expect a “40 (or 35) million registered players!” announcement to have been released if they hit that milestone. So worst-case HotS would be… 15 million? Maybe 12 million assuming Destiny has more than 20 but less than 25?

      As for China, the numbers are on p. 34 of this PDF. Hell, China is probably even lower, as the category is “Asia Pacific” and includes Taiwan and South Korea in there.


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