Activision Mobile making phones, tablets a new focus

Pitfall, an "infinite runner" update to the Atari classic and first game from newly organized unit, available on iOS today.

Activision made a successful business model out of focusing solely on what it does best, but so far, mobile gaming hasn't figured heavily into the equation. Activision Mobile means to change that, and its first step in that direction is available on the App Store today.

Pitfall for iOS is available today.

Pitfall, an "infinite runner" take on the classic Atari game, which will turn 30 this year, is a product of Activision Mobile and The Blast Furnace. The business unit and developer were formed by Activision to bring an in-house team with significant experience in the game industry to bear on the rapidly growing mobile market.

Activision Mobile vice president Greg Canessa said the publisher has had several successful efforts on phones and tablets, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies and Skylanders Cloud Patrol, but they were all "very ad hoc." Now, with a unified strategy in place and Activision's investment in mobile solidified, all that's left is to put out more games.

"We are going to be significant players in the mobile, tablet, and handheld space with an emphasis on microtransactions and premium games going forward," Canessa said in an interview with GameSpot. The business unit plans to capitalize on Activision's large repository of intellectual property to attract casual and hardcore players alike. Pitfall, the first game from The Blast Furnace, was a great first opportunity to update a known license with modern gameplay and familiar iconography, Canessa said.

"You won't find anybody working at Activision Mobile just porting the console experience and then emulating a couple of thumbsticks," said Gordon Hall, co-studio head of The Blast Furnace and chief creative officer of Activision Mobile. The developer, who founded what is now Rockstar Leeds, said the many novel methods of interacting with a mobile device like a phone or tablet make it much more than just a piece of glass to poke and prod. "That's a fantastic opportunity for reinvention. … Everything we do will be designed on mobile, for mobile, ground up."

But working in the mobile space presents its own problems. Different operating systems--such as iOS, Android, and Windows Phone--and a fragmented hardware base challenge developers who largely ditch old platforms as soon as new ones come along. But Hall thinks that's one way Activision Mobile can flex its muscle. Instead of not allowing old models of the iPod Touch to run Pitfall, for example, the game's graphics are scalable--dynamic shadows are automatically disabled and it runs fine, he said. "It's a barrier for people who haven't got the effort, the time, the power, or the resources to get over it, but it's another edge for us, as far as I can see. It's a hurdle, but it's an edge."

The new Pitfall is inspired by the likes of previously successful iOS games like Temple Run. But Hall hopes that his team's collective experience shows through in its polish and deviations--predictive controls, a carefully implemented dynamic camera, and vehicular sections to mix up play and "give the game a heartbeat"--and that the final product will give players excitement as well as "that little Zen-like state."

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick stressed in last week's investor call that his company's success comes largely from "doing a few things very well"--he didn't include phones or tablets in that list. But Canessa said that just means mobile is becoming one of those foci. "We view this to be very consistent with focusing on a few things and doing them well," he said. "This is one of the things we're focusing on now."

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Discussion

27 comments
itchyflop
itchyflop

The mobile gaming started with David Beckham playing space invaders on his phone commercial, or pac man there you go if Becks plays them well it must be good. With the technology moving forward and mobile devices becoming pc's in your hands its obvious what sells to younger generation of people or office yuppies bored at work, games, so they have something to talk about in their upper class work placement!!! gaming is the strongest and fastest growing leader now every avenue will be marketed as was the portable dvd player. Having a vita i don't care for mobile games i can play real ones. :)

tmacman
tmacman

Mr. Sheridan, please tell you weren't happy with that headline.

SolidTy
SolidTy

Easy Money. Spend a tiny bit on bringing back and old classic, and watch the money rake in as people buy it at high prices.

Snakepond1
Snakepond1

All these developers come out with games every week that just steal ideas from previous developers. Pitfall is just copying Agent Dash, which copied Temple Run. 

Also, these game sell at .99$ at first then go free after a month.

Of course, if you want to there is a pay to win model attach to each of these games. 

This is like gambling and is using videogames to lure wider and dare I say younger audience. 

Nintyfan95
Nintyfan95

Yearly sequels of Pitfall on the way XD 

EKGProd
EKGProd

Ugh, more focus on micro transactions. Funny how all the defenders of micro transactions are not eating their own words as micro transactions have started being shoved into PAID games, just like I said they would. I called it over a year ago, and defenders of such schemes said "It will never happen, you are overreacting".

 

Guess I was right, as more and more AAA publishers are moving away from what core gamers want (loyalty means nothing to them, you see) to shove some casual crap on mobile devices, while at the same time taking the micro transaction model and shoving it into paid games.

 

So, anyone still want to defend the practice?

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

I was totally not interested.

 

Then they said Pitfall.  Going to AppStore now....

Mozuckint
Mozuckint

Come on Gamestop....

Mobile part of a company makes mobile it's priority?

>.>

<.<

Just...ughhh

obsequies
obsequies

 @SolidTy wheres nowadays new games are released..the names are different but the game is exactly the same

obsequies
obsequies

 @SolidTy its 99 cents..and its bring back only a name as the game is completely different

superkadeemx
superkadeemx

 @EKGProd aslong as there are ppl out there buying them these companies will continue to sell to them. sure is alot of ppl tho isn it?

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

 @EKGProd I'm willing to pay 99 cents to play Pitfall! on the crapper, dude.  Not even a second thought.

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @Mozuckint Considering how slow on the uptake all of these companies are, I guess those statements are about the best they can manage. Remember, they actually believe that the consumer is dumber than they are!

itchyflop
itchyflop

 @SolidTy do you think they re release street fighter too again!!!!

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

 @Ovirew I know, it's totally different than the original.  But then, so was Pitfall 2, and I plopped a heckova lot more than 99 cents on that one.

 

99 cents is an impulse buy.

Mozuckint
Mozuckint

 @tgwolf Perhaps you're right.

I'll just lower my standards! Then I can't possibly be disappointed!

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

 @PrpleTrtleBuBum That is illogical.  So I should not play one game because there are 89999999 other games i should not try first?

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @Mozuckint Why not, I can only guess that Bl*****d fans do that regularly. I can't justify their playing those games otherwise...

Mozuckint
Mozuckint

 @tgwolf Not sarcasm btw, I hope it doesn;t come off as that.