Activision on its 'appetite for risk'

CEO Eric Hirshberg says there is a "false narrative" that Activision's only objective is to release a new Call of Duty game each year.

Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg has responded to claims that the company is relying too heavily on first-person shooter games, namely the Call of Duty series and Bungie's upcoming Destiny.

Speaking with CVG, Hirshberg said the company's portfolio is diversified, referencing the Skylanders series as an example. He pointed out that the franchise did not exist 18 months ago and is a new IP in a new genre with a new play pattern.

"I feel like people breeze past that when they ask me about diversity," Hirshberg said. "I don't know anyone that's taken a bigger bet on a less proven franchise based on their gut instinct than we did with Skylanders."

The bet has paid off, as the Skylanders series has minted over $1.5 billion for Activision since launch.

Hirshberg also said Activision is diversifying through Destiny, a game that is rooted in first-person shooter mechanics, but is a new genre altogether, he said.

"It's a shared-world shooter, bringing elements of the MMO into shooters, which is incredibly exciting," Hirshberg said. "We've shown a consistent willingness to take risks, and a consistent ability to take the right bets."

Hirshberg acknowledged that Guitar Hero is often brought up, understandably, in discussions about the pitfalls of market oversaturation.

"That was another game based on an unproven model that had an incredible commercial run," he said. "Just because the entire genre run [sic] out of gas at the same time, I don't think is reflective of the fact it was an ill-conceived choice, or something we wouldn't do again given the same opportunity."

Overall, Hirshberg said Activision is not risk averse and is in fact one of the biggest advocates of making big bets of all major publishers in the business.

"I think there is a false narrative that all Activision wants to do is put out a Call of Duty every year, when in fact we've shown some real innovation and appetite for risk," Hirshberg said. "I think that publishers which have wider and 'more diverse' slates are far less risky than us, are far less creative. Just because you have a game in every genre does not mean you're creative."

"So, what we do is certainly a strategy that's not for everyone, and it's not the only way to make good business," he added. "But it works for us. It's something that pre-dates me; it's something Activision has done for many years."

Call of Duty: Ghosts launches for current- and next-generation consoles, as well as the PC, in November.

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Discussion

268 comments
jpestonio
jpestonio

Appetite for milking franchises maybe...

proudtiger
proudtiger

Activision another word for taking the piss.

smokeless_0225
smokeless_0225

Well the funny thing about all this is as long as Activision is making bank, they don't even have to listen to all the haters. I've purchased many Activision games in the past and I currently have two up for pre-order that I am excited for (Ghosts and Destiny). 

Bottom line: Activision you're doing fine. Just keep pumping out awesome games like you've been doing. Haters are going to hate so don't focus on them. You still have a huge fan base.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

It's the CEO's job to make consumers believe in fairy tales.

hinkwokching
hinkwokching

I don't usually do this, but I laughed just reading the title to this article. Now moving on to something else...

Daian
Daian

"I think there is a false narrative that all Activision wants to do is put out a Call of Duty every year, when in fact we've shown some real innovation and appetite for risk,"

I wonder if he was able to keep a straight face while saying that.

PS: I like that he exemplifies Skylanders as another big franchise they have other than CoD, I wonder if he can name another.

Shin_Gallon
Shin_Gallon

This is an article from The Onion, right?

Chizaqui
Chizaqui

Activision has a long standing history of making terrible games, anyway. They usually start a series out strong and then run it ragged until there is no more fan base. I can't remember the last Activision game I played...

(Call of Duty is terrible, Activision, just so ya know.)

edinko
edinko

The name for the new genre may be MMOMS which means MMO MOnetisation Shooter . Destiny will be a money leeching game that we already know. Designed around money rip off schemes and constantly pushing people into some in app purchases. Titanfall will be the same and most other as well

jubdeidamasta
jubdeidamasta

He forgot how they release a new Spider Man game every year! Activision said years ago. They didn't want to put out games they couldn't make into a franchise and they have stuck to that model. Destiny looks more like a different version of Borderlands. Than an entirely new idea. Not saying that's a bad thing though.

Boogaloozle
Boogaloozle

Wow I just went through a list of all games ever published by activision. In the 80's and 90's there were so many I played and even bought.

In the 00's and 10's it's almost only sequels and movie tie in's

And I also realised I haven't spent money on an activision product in over 10 years, in which time i have spent more than $10 000 on gaming machines and games. I've spent over $300 alone on bethesda products in 3 years.

I am really scared they will make the second video game industry crash a reality, just like they helped to make the first happen.

Brotelho
Brotelho

Pa-lease, Activition. Every other game I've played from you in recent history has been utter crap.

dkeppens
dkeppens

Oh lord. Who are you trying to convince here. Seriously. So when guitar hero ran its course because you milked it dry, you realized it was time to start a new ip. Also, i'd be surprised if you don't vet dozens of new ip ideas every year and you can name one cow that got through ? And hailing Destiny as a new genre ? That's delusional. So, there are a few RPG elements included. To start with, we're probably looking at minimal changes and even so, that's hardly never been done before. There, i think i made my point without even naming COD. Congratulations, be proud, you really are the risk takers of the industry !

Bobrzy
Bobrzy

HAHA Oh boy, jokes like these always crack me up.

vadagar1
vadagar1

yah risking other people's jobs .....

SpinDie25
SpinDie25

From a business standpoint.. using a 100% proven sucessfull formula would be stupid to change. Honestly, id rather just let cod be cod and hope other good games come out to fullfill my other needs. Cod is a great solid shooter and honestly it's a nice engine/game mechanic to fall back on. I am NOT however cool with the half-ass recycle jobs like i saw with black ops 2 multiplayer. The maps had not a pixel of developer creativity (all just tiny square boxes). I want cod but i want GOOD cod. I want maps with a sense of originality like back during the days of overgrown, creek, afghan, crash). And none of these stupid ass guns seen in black ops 2, i don't think any of those guns are even real.

I understand people want new and different but just look at coca cola for example, when they released the "new coke" formula there was an outrage! People picketed with signs to get the old coke back!

Erebus
Erebus

Activision has Risk Bulimia. Right now, it's in the consumption phase. Now we wait for the INEVITABLE second phase.

NoahRoalson
NoahRoalson

How about you take a risk and go back to the ORIGINAL CoD formula. Not MW, or BO- CoD1 and 2. No customization, killstreaks or perks. Increase the player count back to 50 and bring back dedicated servers. Level the playing field and get rid of all the "pro" players who rely on killstreaks and perks to win.

TheBlueDrew
TheBlueDrew

Activision takes risk? Sure and Sim City didn't have an offline mode because EA Games care about their consumers. Call of Duty is practically the same game, Destiny isn't a risk given that Bungie are the creators of Halo (regardless of what you think Halo was still a financial success) and Skylanders only does well by applying the pokemon cards business model to video games.

Activision may have taken a risk with Guitar Hero but that was years ago. You can't call something a risk if there's enough prove that it's going to be a financial success. Not that I'm placing blame on Activision for going with sure things but the least they could is to not act as though they're making big risks.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Well, the truth can't do anything against hateful, biased nerd rage. It doesn't fit in their world view that Activision isn't evil or bad in other ways, so they ignore or twist anything that says contrary. Most game developers work really hard and passionately and most publishers are interested in the products they sell. I know that, it's just often that you don't hear anything about that. I don't dislike Activision any more than other big, "bad" companies, but I don't see any risk taking or anything for that matter that makes me more interested in their games. I care about the games, so give me games and I'll see if I care about them.

jagcivtec
jagcivtec

Well, demand governs supply.  As long as mindless sheep flock to buy that crap they will continue to feed them the trash they want.  Milk The Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Can't blame EA or Activision, the easily pleased sheep are guilty.

Pupchu
Pupchu

You mean "appetite for ripping off people with the same game over and over again", Eric... Activision takes risks... hehe... Thanks for the laugh.

AlexFili
AlexFili

In theory, Ghosts should be a lot different to Modern Warfare. Time will tell

AcidThunder
AcidThunder

The amount of bullshit in this... I don't even. lel, just lel.

BFKZ
BFKZ

Start selling full games please, don't try to milk us...we'll run out of milk xD

mrmime777
mrmime777

"I think that publishers which have wider and 'more diverse' slates are far less risky than us, are far less creative. Just because you have a game in every genre does not mean you're creative."

And wow, I just looked closely at that sentence. That is some top shelf corporate double-think.

Vodoo
Vodoo

No Hirshberg... the problem isn't that it's CoD. The problem is that once you find something that's a hit with gamers, you pump it down our throats so much that we get sick of even hearing the name. You over kill good ip's. There's gonna come a time very soon that you won't be able to give away a copy of CoD. And when that happens, you'll know why.

kid_Jump94
kid_Jump94

risk? the witcher 2 cost 10 million, at $50 each, selling 300,000 would give you 15 million. that is an open world game, black ops 2 sold more than a million in the UK alone, theres hardly any risk except for less money for them to burn..

renerak
renerak

Please sell the full game and not a million dlc's after release.

gamer7736
gamer7736

Please take a risk and make a free DLC pack.

mbloof
mbloof

Face it people, we've had just about everything else designed by 'formula' before. Many music groups, films+movies, Television shows - all sorts of entertainment follow known formulas.

Do you really think your favorite TV show is going to be much (if any) different one week to the next?

I've bought ONE CoD - the campaign sucks and I'm not into 'multiplayer warfare' so all the online  crud collects dust. I don't think I bothered finishing it.

Maybe someday Activision will come out with something unique and interesting but I'm not holding my breath.

allever
allever

@smokeless_0225 You're an idiot.  Activision pumps out the same games with modifications.  Ghost is going to be just like MW3.

Activision likes idiots like you.  If they added one new map as a DLC download for $15, you would be first in line.

anfunny
anfunny

@smokeless_0225 Yeah, McDonalds pump out great, delicious, nutritious food just because they make money. 

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

@hinkwokching I laughed like four times. Then read your comment and laughed some more.

anfunny
anfunny

@Daian Right? Because making another Pokemon is so risky. They claim that Destiny is innovative, but its all Bungie's brain-child and ANOTHER FPS... How does he even think that adding a new game mode and a generic war story is innovative?

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

@edinko - LMAO! MOnetisation Shooter. 

That sir is legendary. 

jagcivtec
jagcivtec

Come on, Read before commenting please.  Never I mentioned not liking anything from those companies, they have great games.  The subject of my comment is about pushing out the same yearly crap because people buy it for some mysterious reason, and the company denies it's milking it to death, and how the it's the buyers fault that they do it altogether.

stewbuilderpete
stewbuilderpete

@jagcivtec Oooh. So YOU'RE the one who was put in charge of taste when it comes to gaming, I didn't realize... So tell me what I SHOULD like to play, please. Since apparently I'm not allowed to like anything that EA or Activision publishes.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@AcidThunder I think there's about as much bullshit in this as there is hate in these comments. Perhaps even less than in the comments, because nothing can compete with hate in comment sections.

Boogaloozle
Boogaloozle

@mbloof I would be pissed off if my favourite TV show changed formula every week.

But Every time I hear Saw 17 or Final Destination 649 is released, I wonder "who are the lowest common denominators consuming this shit?"

TheBlueDrew
TheBlueDrew

@gf61 @TheBlueDrew Doesn't that just help my case that Activision rarely takes risks if even the only risky game Activision published was first published by another company.

radikel
radikel

@Cozm1kaos @anfunny @DiscGuru101 @hinkwokching 

I laughed at the title, then laughed some more at the first comment, and then some more even after the whole conversation thread,...and i still cant stop laughing as iam typing this!!!!