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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.

Guild Wars 2 is Fastest Selling Western MMO

During my futile hunt for Hearthstone Beta keys (c’mon Press™, don’t fail me now), I stumbled upon this GameBreaker.tv article about Guild Wars 2 sales:

With over 3 million units sold in the first nine months of availability, Guild Wars 2 is the fastest selling MMO ever in the western market.

That’s no small feat right there. Riding a wave of acclaim and accolades, Guild Wars 2 has set a high bar for quality, and it has earned them a spot in MMORPG history according to an official ArenaNet press release. 3 million units sold in the game’s first nine months of availability puts it at the top of the record books in Europe and North America according to DFC Intelligence, a strategic market research and consulting firm focused on interactive entertainment.

Technically, it may have been 3 million by January 2013. Either way, this news was mildly intriguing, considering how distant from GW2’s actual release it came.

Still, it got me curious about some other numbers and figures. For example, here is an article from VG247 parsing the latest financials that indicate GW2 box sales are down. Which… shouldn’t exactly be surprising given that that is exactly what happens with any box game, right? Then there is the admittedly anecdotal Digital Dozen feature that NoizyGamer puts out every Tuesday, measuring the Xfire hours logged. The latest pretty much show a 50% decline from December, but it’s still roughly half that of WoW today, hour-wise. So, it is probably safe to say that the game’s population is doing alright and ArenaNet deserves the accolades for its legitimate record-breaking, even if the timing is a bit PR-ish.

I was trying to find numbers on how WoW did by comparison back in the day, but it turns out Blizzard doesn’t like giving out those numbers. The best I could find was this old article from 2009, which stated Blizzard sold 8.9 million retail boxes to date in the US alone. As point of reference, MMOData.net (thank god they’re back) shows that halfway through 2009 the Western numbers were steady at ~5.25 million subscribers. There is no way to know the breakdown between US vs Europe, or even whether the numbers are even intelligible given how it counts both box and expansion sales, but there it is.

Just for giggles though: the 2010 census states there were 205,794,364 Americans aged 18-64. A Pew article says 62% of American adults aged 18+ owned a desktop circa mid-2009. If we do a bit of rounding (a couple ten thousand) and assume that every desktop computer could run WoW (no possible way that’s remotely accurate), we have a pool of 127.6 million potential MMOers of which WoW reached… 6.98% of. Back in 2009.

Take away the people whose computers couldn’t handle WoW and then further reduce by those who have no interest in RPGs (let alone online ones) and then the people with PCs but no broadband and… well, you can start to see why market saturation is/was a legitimate concern.