Activision CEO says competition putting out "less than adequate" products

Bobby Kotick partially blames the lack of quality games for the softness in the market

Following Activision Blizzard's earnings announcement, the publisher held its investors call to discuss its results and the industry at large. Chief Executive Bobby Kotick was asked by an analyst about the challenging marketplace this year and why sales have been down at retail.

"You have a very difficult macroeconomic environment, when you look at the things that can generally have an impact on the consumption of entertainment - unemployment data is very concerning, and when you look at the challenges in Europe there are a lot of things that are going to affect the macroeconomic outlook. We are also at the late end of the cycle, and the late end of a console cycle is always going to have its share of difficulties," Kotick began.

He then proceeded to lay some of the blame at the feet of his competitors, which he said are not necessarily doing the industry justice by shipping less than stellar games.

"I also think you've had, unfortunately, a stream of products that are less than adequate from some of our competitors. The demand in the marketplace is for great quality products. If you look at the success we're having it validates that there is an opportunity for great quality products but I think at this stage in the cycle, it's challenging for anything other than great quality products," he said.

Kotick added that other sectors, particularly mobile, are having an impact on how much money consumers are willing to spend. Beyond that, many gamers are happy to keep playing online games for longer stretches of time instead of rushing out to buy new products.

"There's also a lot of competition for entertainment dollars - you look at mobile games and what's happening there and the pricing there that's having an impact," he continued. "And I also think that a lot of the games we make, like Call of Duty, that are multiplayer games offer a lot of replayability, and when you have the opportunity for replayability in an economic environment like this, you're going to spend more time playing the games that you have."

"But I will say that if you look out at the next five years, there's a lot of reason to be hopeful and enthusiastic, but the next few years are going to be challenging," Kotick concluded.

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Latest comments (14)

Kevin Patterson musician 9 years ago
I wish Activision would let Raven (I mistakenly named Rare in my original post for some reason when I KNOW who made the series) make a next-gen reboot of Heretic! That would make an awesome next gen title.

I cannot remember the last Activision game I bought new...... They have relied on sequels too much...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kevin Patterson on 3rd August 2012 9:30pm

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Bobby Kotick is by far the most successful businessman in video game publishing. So it is well worth listening to what he says and watching what he does.

Unlike several serial loss making industry bosses, who are best ignored.

Acyivision's move into mobile seems exquisitely timed and will put the skills they have gained from MMOs to good use.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago
So what is "adequate" for this man?, Overloading the marked with FPSs until it gets absolutely milked like what they with music instrument games? (with help from EA, lest not forget)

Doesn't matter how "successful" people in other companies (who are best ignored) can consider this man. His market policy of monopolizing genres is terrible for other companies, it closes the door for humble funding small developers to compete and are a "boot to the head" for creativity. I'm surprised there is still people, even inside the industry, who fails to see thins.

Activision went through the Game Crash 83 and seems they didn't learn a thing... EA is not better in that matter though...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 3rd August 2012 10:03am

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Show all comments (14)
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
Prototype 2 currently has a Metacritic (critic) score of 79 on PS3 and 74 on 360. Does he regard that as "less than adequate"?
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve9 years ago
What a laughably hypocritical statement to make.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 9 years ago
Only thing that Activision are publishing (not Blizzard) that holds my attention much is the new Transformers game. Everything else is just games industry background noise mostly.

I wonder what they will do when the CoD bubble does pop?
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 9 years ago
Patrick - "I wonder what they will do when the CoD bubble does pop?"

Judging by their current form, shift most of their studios to work on Skylanders DLC.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
While Activision certainly milks the heck out of Call of Duty, they actually do somethings really well (I can't believe I'm about to defend Kotick):

Activision really understands how to monetize the console industry with some pretty damn clever ideas. Call of Duty Elite is a pioneering services, and Skylanders is outright brilliant. You just wait till they make a cartoon of that game and this already hugely successful franchise will be making unbelievable profits.

Furthermore, they actually do put good money into their franchises, even their movie games, to make them better. Amazing Spider-Man was developed by Beenox, and actually turned out pretty good. War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron both have real effort put into them, despite not being in a huge franchise.

They are even finally making some real changes to Call of Duty, with a whole new game mode in Black Ops 2 that plays out like an RTS/FPS combo, letting you direct troops and deploy units from an isometric view then hop down into first person control at will.

Yes, they have a lot of problems, but they do actually try to make quality products.
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Christopher Chambers Games Research Analyst, Electronic Arts9 years ago
You are nothing if not predictable.
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Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News9 years ago
Or he's the guy who has been at the helm while his company is stumbling along killing off its most valuable franchises by milking them to death - Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk, perhaps soon Call of Duty - while being supported by a cash cow of an MMO that's also slowly circling the drain.

If you want to know what kind of leader Kotick is, eliminate the revenue from Blizzard and see what kind of shape Activision is in.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Hmmm. Someone ought to lock up all these execs in a room and make them play all the games from other publishers they keep bashing directly or indirectly. Personally, I'm tired of all the constant gas-bagging from every corner of the industry. Depending on who you ask, consoles and handhelds are doornail dead, High end PC gaming is the ONLY way to go, Mobile is the best thing since sliced air, F2P MMOs and other money grabbers will be the second coming and so forth and so on.

Let's see how all that pans out as the current economic situation isn't exactly
getting better for some out there who'd normally be buying a good deal of these products but can't.

Just make good games, I say...
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
The only "great quality product" they make is their annual Call of Duty sequel, which is really just a $60 map pack because their single player campaigns have sucked for many years.
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Vasil Vasilev9 years ago
I can't help, but notice that Activision Blizzard content is getting a bit stale (I've honestly lost track and interest in CoD's many iterations), which makes the "quality products" quote a bit ironic. In my opinion some of lower quality products in question might be the result of competitors' innovation attempts, which in the long run could affect Activisions star franchises.
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Steven Wemyss Senior QA Engineer, Avalanche Studios9 years ago
We have a situation now where big publishers are totally reliant on one or two big name IP's and don't have any smaller titles to back them up. Small "A" games have been snuffed out largely by the out-of-date pricing model and refusal to adapt. This model really isn't sustainable, one big fail means the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

For comparison just take one look at how the film and music industry does things - one or two tentpole releases a year sure, but they are constantly nurturing smaller talent as well as that's where your next big thing will come from.
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