Activision Touts New Games at Fan Event in Bid for Turnaround

Activision Blizzard Inc. announced new versions of its Overwatch shooting game and Diablo role-playing title in a bid to re-engage disenchanted fans.

Overwatch 2 will include a mode that lets players compete against computer-controlled enemies rather than just other players. The refreshed game will feature additional characters and terrain — providing something new for a three-year-old title that some fans say had grown stale. Existing Overwatch customers will be able to access some content in the new game.

Overwatch is a key title in Activision’s growing esports business. The company made the announcements on the opening day of BlizzCon, a two-day fan event it puts on yearly in Anaheim, California. Tickets for the event, modeled after fan conclaves like Comic-Con, started at $230 each. The event is staged for fans of the company’s Blizzard Entertainment division, which is headquartered nearby.

The company also announced Diablo IV, a new version of the demonic dungeon game that debuted in 1996, and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, an expansion of its long-running subscription-based game, which will be available for order this year. It’s also expanding Hearthstone, its free-to-play digital card game.

Activision has struggled with falling sales over the past year. A poor company forecast and critical reviews at the 2018 BlizzCon sparked a decline in the stock. A mobile game called Diablo Immortal, showed at a conference largely catering to PC-gaming fans, turned into a disappointment for attendees who were expecting Diablo IV instead.

In January, the company cut ties with the publisher of Destiny, one of its larger franchises. Amid an overall dearth of new titles, Activision laid off hundreds of employees and replaced the heads of its three main divisions.

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