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.

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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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