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In context: Since the start of 2020 and the Covid pandemic, the gaming industry has seen a surge as players find themselves with more idle time. This growth brings with it more competition between developers as they try to grab their share of that extra gaming time. Some have seen rapid growth, while other studios have taken a hit—Blizard Entertainment is one of those.
According to research from Mejores Apuestas (MA), Blizzard has lost around 12 million monthly active users (MAU) since 2018. Since 2017, it has lost about half of its player base, and as of Q2 2021, Blizzard's MAU across all properties sits at 26 million. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, the studio's IPs dropped 11 million players falling from 46 million to 35 million by Q4 2018.
The decline has not been precipitous, as can be seen in MA's charts (below). It has been steadily falling over the past three and a half years. However, its Twitch audience has seen an even sharper fall.
In August 2019, Blizzard's Overwatch following on Twitch sat at about 47 million followers with an all-time viewing count of 7.6 billion, making it the seventh most popular game on Twitch. As of August 2021, the follower count has dropped to a dismal 12.1 million. Overall, Overwatch viewership has dropped 75 percent.
Blizzard's decline in popularity cannot all be blamed on the pandemic. The studio has struggled with several factors that have players jumping ship. Most recently, Activision Blizzard has been entrenched in legal issues regarding its alleged toxic workplace that has escalated to the point that the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into its workplace culture.
Also notable is the fact that the studio has not released a new property since Overwatch in 2016. Additionally, fan-favorite franchise Diablo has not seen an addition since Diablo III in 2012. Blizzard has announced it's working on Diablo IV, but it is in early development and has no release window yet. In the meantime, the studio is trying to placate fans with a mobile game called Diablo Immortal, which nobody asked for and fans rejected upon announcement.