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Kotick Hints At Direct-To-Consumer Video Game Movies
Kotick Hints At Direct-To-Consumer Video Game Movies
September 15, 2010 | By Kris Graft

September 15, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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More: Console/PC



Activision Blizzard has its eyes set on becoming the most profitable entertainment company, not just in games, but in the overall entertainment industry. CEO Bobby Kotick on Wednesday dropped hints about one facet of reaching that goal.

Speaking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Newport Beach, CA, Kotick noted that July's StarCraft II has about an hour's worth of cutscenes that are created with the title's in-game engine.

He theorized, "If we were to take that hour, or hour and a half, take it out of the game, and we were to go to our audiences for whom we have their credit card information as well as a direct relationship and ask, 'Would you like to have the StarCraft movie?', my guess is that ... you'd have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever."

Kotick noted that unlike film studios that are stuck with a model that requires costly theatrical distribution that cuts in on margins, Activision Blizzard could go directly to its consumers via online. The CEO mentioned a possible $20 or $30 price tag for such a film, but at this early stage, it's all speculative.

But it still seems that such an initiative is inevitable for the publisher. "Within the next five years, you are likely to see us do that. That may be in partnership with somebody, it may be alone," he said.

"But there will be a time where we capitalize on the relationship that we have with our audience, and deliver them something that is really extraordinary and let them consume it directly through us instead of theatrical distribution," Kotick added.

Citing some unspecified research at Activision, the CEO said that if the company were to distribute a movie directly to consumers' homes, "an extremely high percentage [of consumers] would then go to the theater then watch it again. That's the nature of our consumer -- a very enthusiast consumer."

Kotick has clearly been thinking about this convergence between games and film, but not in the "Hollywood + Games" context that most game companies adopt. The CEO is thinking more about relying less on outside Hollywood-related entities like movie studios, film distributors, external intellectual properties and Hollywood actors, and doing as much as possible to build Activision Blizzard and its properties internally -- essentially keeping the profits within Activision's walls.

"For starters, our virtual characters don't have agents, they don't have managers, they don't have lawyers," he said. Kotick noted inherent inefficiencies in the way TV and films are made as well, such as in the case of a re-shoot, having to schedule and gather directors, actors, cameramen and other resources to come back and redo a scene.

"Our business is the exact opposite," he said. "We can iterate and test and iterate and test until we get a really great result. And if you have the scale, the resources, capability and discipline that we have, that ensures a much better commercial result."

Several times throughout his presentation, Kotick also referred to new advancements in facial animation technology, particularly in November's Call of Duty: Black Ops, that allows virtual characters to express more emotion, and more easily connect with the series' millions of players -- in other words, they're more like real actors.


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Comments


Chris Crawford
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Yeah that's the way to sell even more games! Take out any narrative content. Put it all in one lump instead of splitting it up in small chunks that are digestible, and relevant to you at the moment... I swear every time this guy opens his mouth the world comes a little closer to ending.



I think there is only so much you can milk the consumer. There's the cost of the game, DLC, usually some kind of online service fee, and now charging to see a big part of the game? I know this will never come to pass, but this idea is just crazy.



Did he suggest charging for bullets in Black Ops yet?

Mark Harris
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I think he means more like "we already make movies, we have an hour and half of digital movie in a game" so "why not make some digital movies and sell those".



I don't think he's talking about taking cutscenes out of games and selling them separately, just leveraging their experience creating cutscenes to make feature length films.



That's how I read it, anyway.

Jason Schwenn
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"If we were to take that hour, or hour and a half, take it out of the game..."



He needs to read those last 6 words and consider things like context.

Lo Pan
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Bobby, remember the Final Fantasy movie...beautiful action but no profit.

Alan Rimkeit
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Well, except for the DVD sales. They made a ton off of the DVD sales..... O.o



Wait, which one? Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? Or Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children?



Because Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children made tons of cash off of DVD sales. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within not so much.



I think any well done Star Craft or War Craft movie would have a great chance of making several metric tons of cash. As much as I hate Kotick he may not be far off on this one as you think. But he must make it quality. The fans WILL care.

Lo Pan
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Spirits Within, I remember it was a huge bomb at the box office and lost over 50million from the film budget.

Alan Rimkeit
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Yah, that movie blew. It lost metric tons of cash. But not Advent Children. That movie made money hand over fist. It is still making cash. :D



I would also never pay for a theatrical release of any of these Star Craft or War Craft movies(barring the supposed Sam Raimi WOW movie). Direct to DVD and digital download via the PSN and XBL is the way to go for Kotick/Activision for this idea.

Mike Lopez
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He is pretty smart to think of game-generated films, but I have massive doubts a lot of gamers would pay once for a digital movie and then be willing to pony up again for a theatrical release. Also, who is going to pay $20-30 when a DVD or download film is so much cheaper?

raigan burns
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Wow, this could be my dream come true -- games with no &%#!%# cutscenes!! WOOO!!

Mark Nelson
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Actually, I'd pay USD$0.99 per 30 minute episode of Mass Effect 2 content generated in-engine. The Mass Effect 2 trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2O-0-fQOOs) is probably the single BEST trailer I've seen this year. Film or game...



"Dragon Age: Warden's Fall" is (or was) getting pretty good as far as in-engine episodic content goes. Sometimes there is sparse dialogue and lots of running/jumping, but overall pushing the envelope of machinima.



---



Reading the article has made me think about the fact that over the past year, I've actually spent quite a bit of time watching compilations of cutscenes on youtube... Often I don't have the patience or time to play through a game but I'm very interested in the narrative.

Tawna Evans
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I find Kotick's idea kind of interesting.

[User Banned]
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DanielThomas MacInnes
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And the devolution of video games into bad movies continues. I suppose the way this ends is that game designers just decide to stop dealing with the games entirely, and just make the movies. I'm sure Sakamoto (Metroid) and Kojima (Metal Gear) would jump on that instantly. No more pesky players to get in the way of their creative vision!



Meanwhile, the video games would be a hundred times better because all the excess and bloat would be removed. We could get our arcade games back! Yeeeh!



I'm serious about this. I don't want "interactive" movies, I don't want cut-scenes, I don't want stupid tutorials. I want video games that are fast, intense, and difficult. Every video game plot should be as deep as a Road Runner cartoon. And there should almost always be explosions, alien spaceships or kung-fu.

Alan Rimkeit
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I want it all. I want deep story RPG's, fast intense FPS's, deep story driven adventure games, and skin deep arcade style games. What is wrong with that? O.o

DanielThomas MacInnes
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I think of it in McLuhan terms; these are different forms of media. What's wrong is that movies and games don't mix, and that game designers are completely unqualified to make movies. But that's just my own oldschool gamer take.

Alan Rimkeit
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@DanielThomas MacInnes - I agree with you on that one. I agree that game designers are not made for making actual movies. Movie makers are made for making movies. That is why they are getting Sam Raimi to make the WOW movie for Blizzard. He can make it good. If Kotick wants to make good Warcraft or Starcraft movies he must go outside of the video games industry and get actual MOVIE makers to make the movies for him. Then they have a chance of being good to great. Otherwise they have a good chance of being crap.

Benjamin Marchand
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"Citing some unspecified research at Activision, the CEO said that if the company were to distribute a movie directly to consumers' homes, "an extremely high percentage [of consumers] would then go to the theater then watch it again. That's the nature of our consumer -- a very enthusiast consumer.""



How over-confident and cocky this sounds ...

He acts like he knows humans the same way a farmer knows his cows.

Mark Harris
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By their revenue numbers I'd say he knows his customers pretty well.

Benjamin Marchand
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Are you kidding me sir ? :)



1) Most of their revenue comes from WoW

2) "You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis."

3) more seriously, you're not the contents of your wallet.

Matthieu Poujade
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Robert Kotick needs better PR counselling. Whoever is whispering in his ear right now should consider a career in bleaching products.



Oh wait...


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