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Activision Blizzard is a company filled with creative, talented people. I remember the first time I was shown X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and how genuinely enthused the developers in the room seemed about both the project and the character. When we played the full game it was clear that it wasn't a show; this was made by people who wanted to produce a solid, fun Wolverine title. They succeeded. I can share many, many other stories about good experiences with Activision Blizzard employees and their products.

Which is why it's so frustrating that they seem to be lead by such a joyless man. I'm not sure if a video game beat up Bobby Kotick when he was a young man, but he seems to find the industry genuinely distasteful, even as it makes him rich. Here are some choice quotes from a presentation at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco.

He points to the newly acquired business acumen of people in his company. "You have studio heads who five years ago didn't know the difference between a balance sheet and a bed sheet who are now arguing allocations in our CFO's office pretty regularly," he stated. Of course, that may be due to the fact that his incentive program "rewards profit and nothing else."

He continued with that message: money, money, money. "We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

"We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression," he stated.

Now, these quotes are taken from GameSpot's reporting, and we don't have the entire speech to give these statements context. The problem is I'm just not sure what kind of context would make these quotes look any less bloodless. This is the man who controls Blizzard. This is the man who controls the Call of Duty franchise. This isn't the first time Kotick has been very upfront about wanting to squeeze his franchises for everything they're worth.

Things may be looking good for Activision Blizzard right now, but gamers are a fickle bunch. When you invite a vampire into your home, it's possible he may be able to simply take a little blood every now and again and be a genial guest, but at some point you know he's going to lose control and bleed you dry. At that point you'll be dead, and he'll be out in the night looking for a new home. The worst part? It's hard to argue that you didn't know what he was when you invited him in.

Who knows if this is all a joke, but I doubt it.

If I was working at Activision I'd be polishing up my CV right now, but the recession isn't the best time to go looking for a new job, I guess, so he's got people by the balls.

Still, what a cock.

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The problem is thata lot of the time money talks. People will go to Activision Blizzard because thats where the money is, and the reason thats where the money is is probably largely down to this cunt.

I fucking love that analogy of inviting a vampire into your house though, great. There will undoubtably be some kind of collapse, as usually happens when this kind of company becomes too big and egos start to take over, but the question is how far away that collapse it. Inviting a vampire into your house, classic.

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No Kotick in this story but it is related to cuntery:

Activision exec Tom Tippl has said there are plans to charge Call of Duty fans for online features in future.

"It's definitely an aspiration that we see potential in, particularly as we look at different business models to monetise the online gameplay," Tippl said during a business conference (as overheard by IGN). "There's good knowledge exchange happening between the Blizzard folks and our online guys."

"We have great experience also on Call of Duty with the success we had on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. A lot of that knowledge is getting actually built into the Battle.Net platform and the design of that," he continued.

"I think it's been mutually beneficial, and you should expect us to test and ultimately launch additional online monetisation models of some of some of our biggest franchises like Call of Duty."

But isn't Tippl worried COD fans will object to having to cough up more money? Not a bit: "Our gamers are telling us there's lots of services and innovation they would like to see that they're not getting yet," he said.

"From what we see so far, additional content, as well as all the services Blizzard is offering, is that there is demand from the core gamers to pay up for that."

And sadly, it'll work.

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Are they talking about micro transactions? I can't see them making the next CoD free and funding it that way, so micro transactions and paying for a retail product? No deal.

Or are they talking about their own service, like you have to pay extra for MMOs? Then deffinatly no deal.

If it does turn out profitable for them and other games follow suite then I'll go back to playing single player and local multiplayer like I did just fine for years.

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Found this on Digg, worth a read.

http://www.crispygamer.com/columns/2009-12-03/press-pass-q4-roundup.aspx

Essentially amounts to 2 stories, both of which I've heard before, but worth knowing about.

1. Activision's unorthodox early review access

Modern Warfare 2 was reviewed early only by people flown to a hotel in Santa Monica and they were basically locked in their hotel room to play it.

Also, the pathetic Tony Hawk's Ride review scenario - "If you want a review, you have to come to our 3 hour event on a Saturday and fight the public to play it."

2. Paying for an IGN advert that was made to look like it wasn't an advert

IGN launched a MusicHub page that seemed to be all about rhythm-action games but didn't mention the Rock Band games at all and only mentioned the Hero games. After some poking and prodding they came clean and said that it was really an advert part of the site that they had no control of over.

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The sad thing is that even though I hate current Activision/Blizzard policies, I'll still buy Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 when they come out. I know I'm part of the problem. Then again Drug pushers arn't nice people, but the junkies don't care. The company currently sucks, but will still be in the black this time next year. Especially with the World of Warcraft money printing machine.

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Maybe now that DJ Hero and Ride have flopped they'll see what they're doing is stupid? :ph34r::lol:

I actually think they'll just be in denial about it. Activision are the kind of company to never admit defeat. They'll try and imply Ride has been a massive success. Watch.

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Activision has announced what is apparently the first third-party Independent Games Competition for small-time developers in North America.

There will be two rounds to clear before reaching the grand prize, which is presumably a lump of money and a publishing contract. But that's unclear at this point.

All that's been revealed are the first round prizes of $175,000 for the winner and $75,000 for the loser er runner-up.

Submissions are open now and close on 31st August. And the winners will be announced in October.

"This competition underscores our commitment to supporting the creative spirit and innovation of developers," commented Activision's Dave Stohl.

Interestingly, the terms of the competition, which must be agreed to, say entrants must "acknowledge" that Activision may make games "similar to the entrant's submission" and must give first right of refusal to Activision for the development or publishing of any submission.

Nice.

Some dude on Eurogamer wrote:

This is like a pride of lions hosting a wildebeest beauty contest.

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He's the head of the biggest third-party publisher in the world and he's been artfully illustrated with 'devil horns' sticking out of his head. Now Activision boss Bob Kotick has afforded a little dig at big rivals EA, claiming that its 'oppression' of developers was always a poor business model.

In an interview with Kotaku, 'the most hated man in video games' confessed that his desire to beat EA to the 'biggest third-party publisher' wasn't solely based on being the best - it was also about revenge after he once ran a company that developed business programs for the publishing giant, and didn't like the way they were swallowed up.

"That totally shaped my thinking about how to be an effective publisher," he said. "The EA model was to have lots of independent developers but oppress them. I always said I don't want to do what was done to me.

"So part of the whole philosophy of Activision was whether you're owned outright or no, if you're a studio you have control of your destiny. You could make decisions on who to hire, flexibility on what products to make, how to make them..."

Having apparently overtaken EA in the market, Kotick clearly feels vindicated.

"You still have responsibilities to make great games and make a profit doing them," he added. "But it was the opposite philosophy of EA at the time... They'd buy a developer and it'd become EA this, EA Vancouver regional, and we like the idea that you're an entrepreneur, you have an identity, keep your identity. That spirit is what helps to be successful in making great games."

*cough*

"We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

"We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression,"

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If Bobby Kotick could do one thing, he would make Call of Duty "an online subscription service" as soon as tomorrow.

That's what Activision's big boss has told the Wall Street Journal anyway. Kotick said fans were "clamouring" for an MMO-style experience.

"I would have Call of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow," he said. "When you think about what the audience's interests are and how you could really satisfy bigger audiences with more inspired, creative opportunities, I would love to see us have an online Call of Duty world. I think our players would just have so much of a more compelling experience.

"I think our audiences are clamouring for it. If you look at what they're playing on Xbox Live today, we've had 1.7 billion hours of multiplayer play on Live. I think we could do a lot more to really satisfy the interests of the customers. I think we could create so many things, and make the game even more fun to play."

Curly-haired Kotick explained that Activision hadn't had a chance to put this desire into practice. When asked if an MMO-style offering was coming he replied, "Hopefully."

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Activision has denied "killing" a Black Lotus assassin game by Treyarch (and later resurrecting it as True Crime: Hong Kong) because it had a female hero.

"The company does not have a policy of telling its studios what game content they can develop," the publisher responded to a detailed Gamasutra report, "nor has the company told any of its studios that they cannot develop games with female characters. With respect to True Crime: Hong Kong, Activision did not mandate the gender of the lead character.

"Activision respects the creative vision of its development teams."

Sources alleged that Black Lotus - "a great project internally" - was "killed" because "they don't do female characters because they don't sell". Activision bods apparently demanded the studio "lose the chick".

The year was 2007 and the top selling games were Halo 3, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Assassin's Creed.

"Skewed" focus testing apparently confirmed that the market didn't want Black Lotus, and so the idea of True Crime: Hong Kong was "pushed" on the studio.

"Activision has no room for 'we are making an open-world game with a Hong Kong action movie feel with a female lead,' because that game doesn't exist right now," one source said. "What they do have room for is, 'we are making an open-world game with a gangster main character who can steal cars and shoot people, but it will be in Hong Kong instead of Liberty City. And then they go, 'Hey, GTAIV sold 10 million copies, so that's what we expect from you.'"

Another source added: "If Activision does not see a female lead in the top five games that year, they will not have a female lead. And the people that don't want a female lead will look at games like Wet and Bayonetta and use them as 'statistics' to 'prove' that female leads don't move mass units."

Treyarch, for one reason or another, hasn't wound up as the developer of True Crime: Hong Kong. That's now United Front's baby. The game was formerly unveiled in December last year.

Black Lotus, for the record, was described as a Hong Kong cinema-style assassin game with a Lucy Liu-like main character (modelled around her roles in films Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill). "We were all very proud of what we were trying to make and the team was excited," rued one source. "We made great progress."

"The company does not have a policy of telling its studios what game content they can develop," - what utter bullshit.

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Haha, fucking nut-jobs. I have more.

Activision will steal your identity!

....With that many characters, Hastings is clearly willing to share the spotlight – just not with Activision. The mega-publisher released the first three Greg Hastings games, but apparently came to creative differences with the star athlete. "I had to fire Activision for doing such a poor job," he says, but the story is much richer than that one-liner. "Activision tried to steal my franchise," he reveals. "Within 24 hours of me shipping my PlayStation 2 game, Greg Hastings Tournament Paintball Max'd, they sent me a letter and they said, 'We feel you've abandoned your franchise, and we're going to commence making games called Greg Hastings Paintball without Greg Hastings.’”

Luckily, the story has a happy ending, and Hastings is pleased as punch to be with Majesco for Greg Hastings Paintball 2. "They made us spend a whole pile of money and we won unanimously in court," he explains. "A billion-dollar company tried to steal my identity, and I was able to fight and regain my identity. That's why I'm on cloud nine; I fought the giant and I'm a success story against Activision."

Thank God Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is not getting published by Activision, I can go and buy it now. :ph34r:

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the best part of this is

'We feel you've abandoned your franchise, and we're going to commence making games called Greg Hastings Paintball without Greg Hastings.’

well played Activision, well played.

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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has slagged off Electronic Arts - his chief rival.

"EA will buy a developer and then it will become 'EA Florida', 'EA Vancouver', EA New Jersey', whatever," Kotick told the latest issue of Edge magazine.

"We always looked and said, 'You know what? What we like about a developer is that they have a culture, they have an independent vision and that's what makes them so successful.'

"We don't have an Activision anything – it's Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer. That, to me, is one of the unassailable rules of building a publishing company. And in every case except for two, the original founders of the studio are still running the studios today.

"The only thing that we try to do is to provide a support structure to make them more successful. If you do a really god job – and a lot of our studios do – you get to pick what is, in my view, the most difficult thing to pick in the industry: to make original intellectual property."

Kotick is, of course, public enemy number one for most gamers after a year that's seen the CEO make some eyebrow-raising comments and fire COD creators Vince Zampella and Jason West, who went on to form Respawn Entertainment and sign with EA.

Only last week Kotick said Halo developer Bungie, which has signed a ten year deal with Activision, was "probably the last remaining high quality independent developer".

And who can forget the infamous "take all the fun out of making video games" quote from last year?

According to Kotick, though, EA's the big bad wolf.

"I've been an oppressed EA developer!" he said in response to the suggestion that EA has changed its ways.

"The thing is, it doesn't work that way – you can't be a floor wax and then decide that you're going to become a dessert topping.

"That doesn't work, it's your DNA. [EA's] DNA isn't oriented towards that model – it doesn't know how to do it, as a culture or as a company, and it never has."

Zing.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-09-27-bobby-kotick-slags-off-ea

Bobby Kotick has hit back at Brütal Legend developer Tim Schafer – who famously called the Activision Blizzard CEO a "total prick" in a Eurogamer interview.

Double Fine boss Schafer told Eurogamer in July: "His [Kotick's] obligation is to his shareholders. Well, he doesn't have to be as much of a dick about it, does he? I think there is a way he can do it without being a total prick. It seems like it would be possible. It's not something he's interested in."

Activision hit the headlines last year when it tried to prevent EA from releasing Brütal Legend.

Brütal Legend was originally a Vivendi game, but was dropped after Activision merged with Blizzard Entertainment.

"The guy comes out and says I'm a prick," Kotick told the latest issue of Edge magazine.

"I've never met him in my life – I've never had anything to do with him. I never had any involvement in the Vivendi project that they were doing, Brütal Legend, other than I was in one meeting where the guys looked at it and said, 'He's late, he's missed every milestone, he's overspent the budget and it doesn't seem like a good game. We're going to cancel it.'

"And do you know what? That seemed like a sensible thing to do. And it turns out, he was late, he missed every milestone, the game was not a particularly good game..."

Kotick also insisted his infamous "taking the fun out of videogame development" quote was just a quip.

"That was a joke! The fact that there are people – and it's a small vocal minority – that actually think that I meant it... How do you combat that?"

He added: "This is my dream job. I've been playing games since I was 18 years old. U could have bought any company, but I bought a bankrupt game company, and I've been doing it for 21 years. This idea that I'm not passionate about videogames is ludicrous. But you say something and it gets taken out of context."

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-09-27-bobby-kotick-slags-off-tim-schafer

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The man needs someone in PR to gag him.

He's also been having a pop at West and Zampella.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has defended his decision to fire Call of Duty creators Vince Zampella and Jason West, insisting: "We didn't have any choice!"

Ex-Infinity Ward bosses Zampella and West were fired amid a high profile lawsuit that eventually led to the formation of Respawn Entertainment.

The newly created developer signed with Kotick's bitter rival EA, and work on a new game has begun.

"It shook my belief in two specific people, who were my friends," Kotick told Edge.

"The frustrating thing about that is, the stuff that these guys did, I never would have expected them to do. We're a public company, we've got ethics obligations, and the things they did were... I would go to jail if I did them.

"You can't use the company and the company's assets for your own personal benefit, and you can't use the leverage that you might have for personal benefit – you're not allowed to do that! And so we didn't have any choice."

Kotick revealed he knew Infinity Ward staff would leave en masse following the split, but insisted all will be fine in the end.

"There's 70 really talented people at Infinity Ward who are focused and engaged – and in the last six months, we've had something like 5000 resumes, so it's not like there's a shortage of interest in working there.

"It's one of those things where you get personally disappointed in people you trust and call friends. When you're betrayed by your friends, what do you do?"

Activision is yet to reveal what game Infinity Ward will create next, but the internet reckons it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Incidentally, where was the new IP they let IW make? They had to fight to take CoD out of World War II!

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Some of what he says seems understandable and genuine, some of it sounds like spin to win over the "vocal minority" as he has the Operation Black thing soon out.

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+1 to EA

"Kotick’s relationship with studio talent is well-documented in litigation," EA corporate communications VP Jeff Brown tells Gamasutra in a statement.

"His company is based on three game franchises – one is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third is in the process of being destroyed by Kotick’s own hubris."

+1 to Schafer.

"It's sad is that instead of just insulting me personally, he goes after the product of my hard-working team - a group of people he almost put out of work a while back," Schafer said.

"But what's even sadder is that it took him two months to think of a comeback."

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"His company is based on three game franchises – one is a fantastic persistent world he had nothing to do with; one is in steep decline; and the third is in the process of being destroyed by Kotick’s own hubris."

whats the middle one?

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