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Activision: Gamers, not the economy, have shaped IP

CEO says that title focus is a reflection of people playing fewer games, more often

Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg has claimed that gamers are more responsible than the economy for the winnowing of publisher IP, reflecting that they are playing less games, in far more depth than they used to.

An increasing install base and more time spent on gaming show a growing market, Hirshberg explained, whilst deeper worlds and almost endless online replay potential mean that games now have a much longer tail than previously.

"Gamers seem to want to spend more time on, and go deeper into, fewer games," the CEO told GamesIndustry.biz as part of a larger interview. "They're gaming more - all of the metrics in terms of number of uniques, number of hours spent, all those are up. Hardware install base is up.

It's hard to argue that economic turbulence is the driver, because people are still buying new Xboxes and PS3s at a record clip.

Eric Hirshberg, Activision

"If you look at all the graphs, it's hard to argue that economic turbulence is the driver, because people are still buying new Xboxes and PS3s at a record clip. We get 20 million unique Call of Duty players every month. The shift is that the games have gotten deeper, and as we've seen this shift to online connected play, the tail on games is a lot longer than it used to be."

Part of the reason for that is the ability to keep adding content to existing games with DLC and online options, Hirshberg feels, keeping players engaged in single universes much longer than was previously possible.

"I think that, as much as anything else, has decreased the demand for new IP," the CEO continued. "Just a few years back, when there wasn't that long tail of connected play, you'd buy a game, roll through the campaign, roll through the various play modes. Maybe you'd do it again, but then you'd be done with it. There'd be very few games, maybe the sports games would be the exception, like the Maddens and the FIFAs, where you'd just continue to play them all year round.

"But now you're seeing that more and more with these DLC strategies and a lot more connected play. This is something we're learning from gamers. Just because it's part of an existing franchise, doesn't mean it's not innovative, doesn't mean we're not bringing new ideas."

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