Online game operator Changyou.com has announced its unaudited financial results for the first quarter of 2017. Total revenue was $120 million, an 8% decline both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter, meeting the top end of the company’s previous guidance. Net income was $30 million, a $3 million decline since Q1 2016. The company’s international MMO properties include Dragon Oath (TLBB), Blade Wars, and Zentia.
The company’s numbers reflect ongoing shrinkage: the average active accounts in the company’s PC games business is at 2.4 million, down 20% year-over-year. In terms of active paying accounts, the number who buy virtual goods and items from the company has shrunk 18%, to approximately 900,000 players. The picture is far worse in mobile games, with active accounts down 31% since last quarter and 66% since Q1 2016, to 1.1 million. The financial hit is similar, with approximately 300,000 paying for the company’s mobile games, a 63% decline since Q1 2015.
The company’s online game revenue was $85 million, representing an 11% decrease since last quarter and a 17% decline year-over-year. The fact the company’s income has shrunken far less than their player base is attributable to cost-cutting measures including salary reductions and workforce layoffs, as well as significant revenue growth in their cinema advertising division.
“We got off to a good start in 2017 as we recorded total revenue of US$120 million and non-GAAP net income of US$35 million for the first quarter, both meeting the top end of our guidance,” said Dewen Chen, CEO of Changyou.com. “Revenue from TLBB PC and TLBB 3D for the first quarter both exceeded our previous expectations. We will continue to launch new expansion packs in order to maintain user stability and extend the life spans of both games. In terms of new games, we are more determined than ever to develop popular games that resonate with users by producing content with innovative game play, premium graphics, cutting-edge technology, and other high quality features.”
Beneath the rosy commentary, the numbers paint a grimmer picture. Changyou expects the second quarter to be similar to the first, with expectations of total revenue between $110 million and $120 million, and online game revenue of $75 million to $85 million. The year-over-year and even quarter-over-quarter declines in its player base coincides with the inevitable demise stage of older MMORPGs, a description that fits Changyou’s older games, particularly its flagship TLBB series.
The company has not announced any plans for a true sequel to TLBB, let alone any intent to create new MMORPGs to replace its graying stable of properties. Instead, Changyou has decreased product development by 12%. The only launch the company currently has in the pipeline is the Legacy TLBB mobile game, set for Q2 2017 and for which it has not issued any revenue expectations or guidance.