NEW RELEASES: This week's major release is the Nintendo Switch (NTDOY) port of Volition's "Saints Row: The Third." The game originally rolled out in 2011 for Xbox 360 (MSFT), PC, and PlayStation 3 (SNE).
ACTIVISION RESULTS: Last Thursday, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) released results for its fiscal first quarter, reporting Q1 adjusted earnings per share of 78c on net bookings of $1.26B, compared to analysts' estimates for 26c and $1.24B, respectively. The video game publisher said that it had 345M monthly active users in the quarter, with 41M at Activision, 32M at Blizzard, and 272M at King. Activision added in the release that daily time spent per user for each segment increased year-over-year, with average time spent approximately 50 minutes. The company also provided lower-than-expected guidance for the second quarter and reaffirmed its EPS and net bookings outlook for fiscal 2019.
On its quarterly call, Activision Blizzard said that it sees "clear opportunities" to grow its reach and monetization of franchises, adding that it is "selectively" investing in new franchises. Meanwhile, the company said on the call that it plans to invest 20% more resources in its "Candy Crush," "Overwatch," "Diablo," "Warcraft," and "Hearthstone" franchises in 2019.
EPIC BUYS PSYONIX: Game developer Psyonix, which created the popular esports title "Rocket League," announced last week that it agreed to be acquired by Epic Games, the creator of "Fortnite" and owner of the Epic Games store. "Today is a big day for us here at Psyonix because, just as the headline says, we're officially joining the Epic Games family," the developer said. "Your first question to news like this might be, 'What does this mean for Rocket League and its community?' We're happy to say that the answers are only positive. Rocket League always has been and always will be a community-driven game, and now that we have joined forces with Epic, we will be able to serve our community in even bigger and better ways!" According to Business Insider, "Rocket League" has over 50M registered players worldwide. Investors in Epic include Tencent (TCEHY), Disney (DIS), and KKR (KKR).
BTIG ON 'APEX' TWITCH VIEWERS: In a research note sent to investors last week, BTIG analyst Brandon Ross said that Twitch (AMZN) viewership for Electronic Arts' (EA) "Apex Legends" has fallen off dramatically. The analyst believes that the Twitch metrics are very relevant about the state of in-game engagement and added that he thinks the engagement around "Apex" has suffered since developer Respawn has not provided enough content and has introduced content too slowly. In addition, Ross said that there have also been numerous technical problems with the game. The challenges of Respawn to capitalize on the game's fast start show why free-to-play is unlikely to become a major threat to the traditional triple-A video game model, the analyst added.
OTHER STORIES TO WATCH:
- On Friday, Electronic Arts reported that the Twitch Audience for the "Madden NFL 19" Bowl had peaked at 97,000 viewers, a 650% annual increase, and the stream generated over 2.5M views, an 850, year-over-year increase.
- In other EA news, the game publisher announced that it is bringing its subscription service EA Access to the PlayStation 4 system starting in July.
- Meanwhile, Capcom's (CCOEY) original "Devil May Cry" is coming to the Nintendo Switch this summer, according to the Twitter account for "Devil May Cry 5."
"Game On" is The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.
Keywords: saints row, apex legends, twitch, activision, epic games, psyonix, rocket league