Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blog Post: Wow, what's going on with Activision?

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Well it seems that Activision's been busy over the last few weeks. As they've just announced yesterday, they will be discontinuing the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero franchises, not to mention Tony Hawk, and have cancelled the upcoming True Crime: Hong Kong, a game that just recently got a strong preview/cover story in EGM. This follows the announcement from a few weeks ago that Activision would be closing Bizarre Creations, the studio who developed Blur, and would be effectively shutting down their rhythm game division, eliminating Red Octane, the company they acquired to gain control of the Guitar Hero franchise.

So what exactly does Activision have planned for this year? Well, according to IGN, they still plan to release a Spider-Man, and of course they'll have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. But is that really it?

It seems like it, and in that same IGN article, Activision discusses that they believe the industry is moving in a very "hit-focused" direction, believing that any game that doesn't sell millions of units is not worth bothering with. But really, how many franchises are capable of doing that? And how does Activision expect to grow the industry with that mentality? New IP don't just sell millions right off the bat, even Guitar Hero took its time to grow. Are we to expect nothing from Activision going forward except yearly Call of Duty games?

Well, the good news for them is that they have Blizzard. What it looks like to me is that Activision's planning on gradually moving out of traditional game releases, focusing more and more on the online game/subscription model that's worked so well for their other half, Blizzard, over the years. They've already talked about a potential Call of Duty MMO, which I definitely believe will happen. But once Call of Duty stops selling, just like Guitar Hero stopped selling, how will Activision continue to develop games that sell millions of copies when they're in the process of killing off all their non-CoD franchises?

It's a mystery, frankly. The only thing I can see happening is an eventual move into a Blizzard-like business model, and who knows how that will affect the industry? I guess we'll have to see. I've always had kind of a love-hate relationship with Activision. Lately I've found their business practices and their treatment of their developers to be pretty shameful, but on the other hand, games like the first couple Tony Hawks were a huge part of my childhood growing up, and so there's always that soft spot I'll have for the company. It's that part of me that thinks it sucks to see one of the industry vets losing touch with/losing interest in the industry that it's currently, well, ruling.

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