Overwatch has become the fastest Blizzard franchise to reach 25m players worldwide, with its Q4 monthly active users reaching a new franchise high, Activision Blizzard revealed in its Q4 financial results.
Overwatch also now holds the record for the strongest launch year in terms of financial performance, beating the previous launch year record for unit sales set by Diablo III in 2012.
The publishing giant had its highest number of annual monthly active users in Q4, reaching 447m across its three divisions. Of that figure, 41m belonged to Blizzard, which is a record high for the division's Q4 monthly active users, 51m belonged to Activision, and a massive 355m belonged to King.
Blizzard also had its highest number of monthly active users for the whole of 2016, reaching 36m, an increase of 37 per cent year on year.
There was good news for Blizzard's Hearthstone title as well. The CCG had a record number of monthly active users in 2016, growing by 20 per cent year-on-year, and its Q4 monthly active users were also up year-on-year.
World of Warcarft's 2016 monthly active users shrunk by 20 per cent year-on-year in Q4, but over the course of 2016 they actually grew 10 per cent year-on-year. Time spent playing the MMO also grew year-on-year, surpassing Legion's launch quarter and all non-launch quarters in the last four years.
Elsewhere, Activision Blizzard's revenue from in-game content reached a record $3.6bn in 2016, which is more than double the $1.6bn it earned in 2015. Excluding King, revenue from in-game content grew 30 per cent year-on-year.
Digital revenue across the company's whole portfolio also made up 72 per cent of its total game sales, which fits in with the wider industry trend of ever-strengthening digital sales.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick commented: “Our record performance in 2016 further strengthened our position as the world’s leading standalone interactive entertainment company. For the quarter and the year, we delivered our highest revenues, non-GAAP redefined operating margins and earnings per share, well surpassing our own expectations.”
Kotick added: “The launch of Blizzard’s Overwatch created a major new franchise, while King’s mobile advertising tests are very promising as the basis for meaningful new revenue streams. We accelerated our efforts in esports and consumer products, enabling more ways to celebrate and connect to our communities. Thanks to the strength of our established franchises and the vitality of our new initiatives, we are well positioned for growth in the years ahead.”