Bungie attracted to Blizzard's online expertise - Kotick

Activision CEO says Halo studio "didn't really have any other alternative" if it wanted to realize vision for next project.


Halo: Reach

Bungie is no stranger to online games, as evidenced by Halo 3's qualification for the "over 1 billion served" tagline. However, the company could be aiming even bigger for its next release, judging from comments made today by the head of Activision Blizzard, which signed a 10-year partnership with Bungie for its next original intellectual property.

23 million XBL subscribers aside, Kotick said Microsoft doesn't have the online chops for Bungie's next project.
23 million XBL subscribers aside, Kotick said Microsoft doesn't have the online chops for Bungie's next project.

Speaking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Media, Communications, and Entertainment Conference this morning, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick answered questions about his company's recent performance and offered some insight on how it landed the Bungie deal.

"When [Bungie] started the process of looking for a new partner, they had a vision for a kind of product they wanted to create that needed certain skills and capabilities that Microsoft had some of," Kotick said. "But as they started to look at the obvious candidates, they realized that no company other than Activision had the skills they needed to be successful for the vision for that product."

The skills Kotick referenced are areas of expertise he suggested would not have been envisioned just five years ago, many of them relating to Blizzard and its rampantly successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. He started by pointing to that game's 2,500 customer service and support staff, and how no other company understands the logistics of training, managing, and organizing a group that big to meet players' expectations.

He also talked about "more esoteric" things, like having people dedicated to finding the lowest per-kilowatt-hour cost of power, developing new backup generator and cooling systems, and policing a community the size of a small country (World of Warcraft has a stated subscriber base of more than 11 million people).

"These are really complex things," Kotick said. "When Bungie actually started to think about their future product plans and realized how deficient they and everyone else was in providing all of these services that were necessary to create competitive products for the future, they didn't really have any other alternative."

While suggestive, the comments don't necessarily give away details on what type of project Bungie is working on. Earlier in the call, Kotick noted that Blizzard's online expertise "was why we sold control of our company [Activision] to [Blizzard parent] Vivendi," and that Activision is now applying the developer's expertise to franchises as diverse as Call of Duty, Tony Hawk, and Guitar Hero.

Little is known about Bungie's next game except that it will be a new intellectual property and will mark a return to multiplatform development for the studio. Earlier this week, Bungie community director Brian Jarrard also revealed the game is being built on an all-new engine, which is roughly at the end of the preproduction phase of development.

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