Activision explains why they dropped Brutal Legend, Ghostbusters, Riddick

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Activision explains why they dropped Brutal Legend, Ghostbusters, Riddick - Nov 06, 2008 18:34
1Up has reported this insight into the modus operandi of Activision's head beancounters:

Following the merger between Activision and Vivendi to form Activision Blizzard, it was announced that a number of games -- including high profile titles like Ghostbusters and Brutal Legend -- were being dropped. Disappointing as it was, it was a mind-boggling decision to many gamers, given that Activision decided to retain the rights to other Vivendi franchises like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. We've theorized that this was simply a matter of being able to milk those franchises more than you could the new Riddick, and sure enough, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick admitted as much during yesterday's Activision Blizzard earnings call. According to MTV Multiplayer, while answering a question on why some of Vivendi's games were dropped, Kotick laid out the reality of the matter -- albeit without referring to any specific games:
"[Those games] don't have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises. ... I think, generally, our strategy has been to focus... on the products that have those attributes and characteristics, the products that we know [that] if we release them today, we'll be working on them 10 years from now."
It's a fair point given that Activision is, after all, a business, but it's easy to be upset with that sort of strategy. Luckily, Kotick did say original properties are important, but they need to be careful with which properties they pursue. Of the 15 properties Activision Blizzard is planning to release next year, "three, maybe four" of those will be "exciting new intellectual properties." Too bad none of them will be Ghostbusters or Brutal Legend.

Although I think the medium of games can sustain this sequel/franchise-based development style better than most other media, I still think it's being overemphasized. 

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Re:Activision explains why they dropped Brutal Legend, Ghostbusters, Riddick - Nov 06, 2008 20:38
Activision is quickly becoming everything that was wrong with EA three years ago, and it's in direct correlation to their massive success in the game's market, especially this generation. 

I don't think anybody could have envisioned them as a contender for top third party publisher at this time in 2005, but three years later, they're looking to turn higher numbers than even EA, by over a quarter billion dollars, the monolithic embodiment of corporate video game culture. They've gone from releasing a handful of successful quality franchises, to strict two-year development cycles, with staggered holiday-ready franchises.

The casual gamer is now iconically represented by a Guitar Hero controller, not a copy of madden. The "hardcore" first-person-shooter addict has been converted from the churches of Battlefield and Halo to the international unitarian congregation that is Call of Duty. It's a huge shift in the market, if less noticeable to the public than say, the shift in console marketshare.

With all that being said though, the nature of the industry is still cyclical, and their success will mellow out a bit in the next few years, especially if they hold this aggressive franchise market plan. The consumer will become disenfranchised, and the negative PR will either damage their image, or reorient their focus (The way EA switched to their new city-state model after Probst graced them with his exit).
<message edited by Eddie_the_Hated on Nov 06, 2008 21:16>
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