Activision: TV advertising still needed for "blockbuster" games

Call of Duty publisher's VP of global marketing says if you want to sell 10 million or more copies of a console game, you can't bypass TV.

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Despite the power of social media like Twitter and Facebook, traditional TV advertising remains critical for publishers who want to have a "blockbuster" game on their hands, according to Call of Duty publisher Activision's VP of global marketing Jonathan Anastas.

"If you want to sell 10 million or more copies of a console game, TV is not going away yet," he told the [a]list daily. "At that point, you're breaking into the 'blockbuster' game buyer, who may only buy one or two games a year and is not a deep follower of the genre or your brand."

"They may buy Halo in 2012 and GTA in 2013 and play Words With Friends in-between the two when not watching Netflix or playing Minecraft," he added. "I'm not going to convert that buyer on my Twitter feed."

Activision historically supports its yearly Call of Duty games with a traditional TV advertising campaign, while Electronic Arts' Titanfall, Namco Bandai's Dark Souls II, and Ubisoft's South Park: The Stick of Truth all enjoyed a healthy TV marketing push this year. All of these games made the top 10 sales list for March 2014 in the United States.

This is not to say that advertising through social media channels is not important, because it is, Anastas says. "Now, brands can build, aggregate and engage their own audiences, often with greater reach than the old media third parties," he said.

Advertising through social media has its own set of challenges, Anastas pointed out. "There's a huge amount of platform proliferation and fragmentation. SnapChat and WhatsApp have more [monthly active users] than Twitter."

"Brand consistency is fairly easy. That's style guide enforcement. What's hard is the development of true effective uses for each platform--best practices--as well as normalizing reporting and metrics. Is a Re-tweet the same as a share? Is a re-pin better or worse?"

This year's Call of Duty game is currently in development at Modern Warfare 3 co-developer Sledgehammer Games. The first image from this game appeared last week.

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