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Booming sales of the first-person, futuristic shooter “Overwatch” and an uptick in “World of Warcraft” subscribers boosted revenue in the first quarter for Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
The Irvine-based publisher posted sales of $441 million, up 50% from a year earlier. Operating income topped $166 million, up 93% from a year ago.
The gains helped Santa Monica parent Activision Blizzard Inc. post revenue of $1.7 billion in the March quarter and net income of $546 million, both higher than earlier guidance and Wall Street expectations,
Chief Executive Bobby Kotick singled out “Overwatch” for the solid performance in a released statement.
The game, released about a year ago on PlayStation, Windows and Xbox One—Blizzard’s first launch on the Microsoft Corp. console—took less than 12 months to become a $1 billion business, shattering company records along the way.
The game added five million players in the first quarter to top more than 30 million. It is the foundation for this year’s launch of the Overwatch League, which could rival the largest esports competitions in the world.
“Overwatch” became the company’s eighth billion‐dollar franchise, the company said today, a threshold the Business Journal reported it crossed last month.
WoW, which has lost millions of subscribers the last few years, rebounded with the Aug. 30 release of “World of Warcraft: Legion,” the sixth expansion set of the flagship role-playing game.
Blizzard stopped releasing subscription figures for WoW in late 2015 after several consecutive quarterly losses. The last subscription figure released was 5.5 million players.
Gamers pay about $15 per month to play WoW online with friends and foes across the globe.