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Activision's Bobby Kotick on Wii U's disappointment, next-gen dev costs
Activision's Bobby Kotick on Wii U's disappointment, next-gen dev costs
February 7, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

February 7, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    11 comments
More: Console/PC, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing



Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick rarely gives interviews these days, so his quarterly conference calls with the company's investors represent one of the few times we get to hear from one of video games' most successful executives.

His company just closed the books on its biggest year ever, but even still, the company warned that 2013 could be a rough transitional period for the entire industry…even for one with stable franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Skylanders.

We've highlighted some of what Kotick told his investors -- and inquiring financial analysts -- on Thursday.

On Skylanders' future after a weak Wii U launch

"As you know, we were somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U. I think it's a challenging environment this year, and one of the things we are concerned about is what the install base of hardware will be like for six-to-eleven year-olds.

"But we have a lot of confidence in the franchise for the longterm. I think we're delivering another great product this year."

On Disney Infinity's threat

"We haven't had any competition in the category [to date]. We have a new competitor, and we're very likely to have more. But we've invested a lot against it, we've achieved a lot of good success so far, and we have high expectations for the franchise going forward."

On the living room's shift away from consoles

"As you start to see internet-enabled televisions and the App Store reach the television with a much larger base, it's very hard for us to compete against free. I think there are challenges even at 99 cents.

"And so to the extent that you see a lot more internet-enabled televisions, we're going to have to start thinking differently about the content that we would deliver to those internet-enabled televisions."

On Activision's continued snubbing of mobile

"What we've seen to date on iOS-related content relative to the business that we're in… we're not really moved to dial that significantly. Having said that, we're investing in a variety of initiatives. We're looking at those things carefully.

"There's nothing that we see on the near-time that's going to have a meaningful impact on our financial results, but we're an opportunistic company, and we're always exploring new areas that could give reasonable returns to our shareholders.

On development costs in the next gen

"This is my twenty-second year doing this. And every single console transition we've seen an increase in development costs. Over long periods of time it gets smoothed out, but I would say this is not a transition where that's going to be an exception.

"We're going to have to figure out how to take advantage of the unique capabilities of new hardware, and that requires new skills and investment in tools, and technology and engines."


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[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

A W
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Well I don't know much about the guy to hate him outright, but his statements about next gen seem to ring true with other statements on the matter. It making me interpreter it like this. Graphics are not going to get all that much better, but what the end user will be able to do in a game will get much better.

Biff Johnson
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well, given that in a business meeting he refers to their customer base as little more than cattle that poo money for them, I've no reason to respect the guy. For him it's about business and money and nothing more.

My 2 bits there.

On mobile? meh. nothing says you have to supply product for mobile as well just because that market is there and everyone else is stressing over it. Like I said, he's about the bottom line and R&D doesn't show quick returns.

Bob Johnson
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Yep give him credit for not following some of these latest fads/trends just to follow them.

Thom Q
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"well, given that in a business meeting he refers to their customer base as little more than cattle that poo money for them, I've no reason to respect the guy. For him it's about business and money and nothing more."

Referring to your customers as cattle that poo money kinda makes him a piss poor business man, as well as just a douchebag :P

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

John Owens
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He's a business guy first and foremost and for that reason I have misgivings about him but couldn't really argue with anything he said.

I still think that Activision's strength lies in one or two baskets and at some point that may come back and hurt them however I suppose it's probably easier and cheaper to buy the next big franchise rather than develop it yourself.

andrew easter
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What is messed up is a fantastic looking game like Death inc. struggles to get funding because it is new, while Activision can plan a release schedule entirely made up of rehashes.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/229423802/death-inc

I just wish that more original games could get funded so we could unlock more choice in gaming.

Benjamin Quintero
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The problem with games like Death Inc is that they fail to connect with the prospective supporter. I found this campaign early and passed on it. The weird dark humor is pretty niche and the rts (but not really) mechanics are hard for people to understand without playing it. With the game so early in development I couldn't help but dismiss it as a picman-style game with less item hunting and more about zombie theory.

I dont mean that to offend the developers but i just didnt see the value.

andrew easter
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People should be allowed to express opinions without fear of reprisal. For me, I find any racing sim a chore and bypass without even looking.

There humour is very English, though they did release a gameplay walkthrough to show the mechanics in action. http://vimeo.com/ambientstudios/deathincgameplay1http://www.gamas
utra.com/view/news/186280/Activisions_Bobby_Kotick_on_Wii_Us_disa
ppointment_nextgen_dev_costs.php

I think the pressure on these games with a new mechanic will be to find the funds to produce a demo, to do a kickstarter to make the game.

andrew easter
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http://vimeo.com/ambientstudios/deathincgameplay1


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