Activision-Blizzard's financial stats for the last year have been made public and they've talked a bit about one of the most popular new IP's on the market: Overwatch. The game has managed to achieve a major new milestone in terms of its financial success on the market.
Overwatch originally launched back on May 24th in 2016. So the $1 billion milestone arrives just ahead of the game's one year anniversary.
This also comes just on the heels of the company having surpassed more than 30 million registered users around the world. Activision, unfortunately, doesn't break down exactly what the over and under is for registered users versus copies sold, nor do they distinguish how much of the $1 billion in revenue is from units purchased versus cash shop items bought.
I know the distinction may not seem like much, but this determines exactly how many people actually bought the game versus how much the current, engaged player base are spending on it. Some games may have a really strong player base who spends a lot of money on the content, sort of like Team Fortress 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Many MMOs out there also have a steady player base, but sometimes maintain their operation based on the "whales", which is oftentimes how many mobile games maintain growth and strong revenue in an over-saturated market.
In this case, it sounds like there's a healthy mix of those who spend big bucks on the microtransactions in the game, as well as those who paid for a full copy of Overwatch.
Some of the commenters were a bit perturbed at the idea of loot boxes in a full priced game, calling it "gambling". Others defended the loot boxes, claiming that the cost of development and maintenance justify the need for microtransactions. Yet another question is this: with the game having surpassed $1 billion in revenue, would microtransactions really be justified on the grounds of rising costs of development?
It's a good argument for sure, given that it's highly unlikely a game like Overwatch cost $250 million to make, at which point they would need to make back $500 million in revenue before the game would be considered a real profitable venture. While the game has a very distinct art-style, it's certainly not one of the more visually intensive games on the market, especially when compared to Frostbite-powered titles like Battlefield 1, or Horizon: Zero Dawn, powered by the Decima engine.
There are no definitive estimates on the cost of Overwatch, but some guesswork and estimates put it between $10 and $25 million. $15 million definitely seems like a more appropriate price for the game's production costs, given how it's a team shooter with compact maps and there was no need to go all in on giant set pieces with Hollywood blockbuster moments.
Anyway, no matter how much the game cost to make, Overwatch is a bona fide smash hit success for Activision and Blizzard now that it's reached the Call of Duty club and garnered $1 billion in revenue.