More than 2 billion (B) people globally play video games, and around 10 million are addicted to video games, playing 10 hours straight3,1. According to the WHO, gaming addiction affects 3-4% of users1. Gaming addiction causes depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, reduced work efficiency, poor relationship management, and hearing and vision problems2. Moreover, research suggests that violent video games can be linked to changes in young adults' behavior, increasing aggressiveness4.
With a market share of +40% in the global mobile gaming sector, Activision Blizzard is one of the largest video games companies5. Its most-selling game titles include Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Diablo6;p5. In 2021, the company's consolidated revenue was USD8.8B6;p38, 61% came from microtransactions7. These are small fees paid for extra features such as loot boxes and in-game rewards that help gamers advance in the games, thus encouraging repeat purchases and gambling practices8,15. According to a survey, 79% of people aged 11-24 consider loot boxes highly addictive15.
Call of Duty, with 100M+ players, 400M units sold, and 650M mobile downloads as of 2021, offers such loot boxes and in-game rewards, in addition to fast-paced gameplay and competitiveness, contributing to players' addiction12,13,6;p1-2. Research on Call of Duty players has found that it changes young people's brains to make them less empathetic and fuels aggressive and anti-social behavior14. Considering the WHO's stats, an estimated 3M-4M of Call of Duty players have gaming addiction1,13.
Moreover, World of Warcraft, which has over 500,000 monthly players10, is among the top 10 most addictive games of all time in 20219. According to a survey of 1,000 hardcore gamers, World of Warcraft and Overwatch are second and fourth in the ten most addictive video games11.
Activision Blizzard is affecting players' minds and psychological well-being.
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