PAX East 2011: Activision Doesn't Run Internal Studios With Iron Fist

Smooth Operator

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Really interesting that such a panel of people comes together to comment on Activision specifically, especially interesting because noone else does this, ever.

I guess game development isn't the only way to make good money :D
 

Alar

The Stormbringer
Dec 1, 2009
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Nurb said:
*COUGH* bullshit! *COUGH*

Everything that Kotick's been quoted saying has proven otherwise
Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

I know Blizzard claims that Activision doesn't alter their game making process any, but I still have to wonder...
 

Orcus The Ultimate

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until the 90's all was great, gaming companies were run by Devs, then during the first years since 2000, something went down, most Devs but not all, were replaced by economists and administrative CEO's, since the industry grew so much, maybe too much, and is still growing... overpassing the Music or the Movie industry, this is what's happening in my point of view,

and the sad thing is that gamers are transformed into consumers/clients, and so that none can boycott their decisions (DLC)/products (you know which ones), they create classes inside gamers, special Clientèle that think they are privileged by paying an additional fee.
 

Rack

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It's interesting timing isn't it? I mean Activision have ben considered the embodiment of everything bad in gaming for a few years now, and just now 3 developers spontaneously stand up to defend them?
 

Sylocat

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By the way, am I allowed to ask why this is being treated as "news" by The Escapist?
 

Zing

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tautologico said:
This won't change many opinions. People need a boogeyman to hate.
EA should pull ahead in that department. I feel like they are mostly to blame for destroying Dragon Age 2, at least I like to think that to save some face with BioWare, who are probably going down the tubes too.
 

happyelf

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Sylocat said:
By the way, am I allowed to ask why this is being treated as "news" by The Escapist?
The same reason a bunch of devs sat around in said 'news' item praising their boss?

There are certainly grey areas in game coverage, such as what I noted before, the trend of having news about demos, screenshots, and prmotional cutscenes about games. But those are cool fun things that people enjoy seeing, which relate to actual games, developers, and technologies, not an overt presentation of a corperate position like this.

Even in cases when a game news site reports on a press release, they don't suggest any credibility to it in their coverage. This event, which should clearly be met with skepticism, has instead been embranced and promoted as if it were any other panel. After all, when the whole IW fiasco happened, it's not as if people commentating on it did so without at least a measure of restraint- very few of the statements made by either sideof the debate were accepted on face value, or reported as self-evident fact without scrutiny.

Likewise, there's something to be said about reporting with a summary from each of the panels at a major convention. But this is not a summary, or a new report, this is blind advocacy for the argument being made by the people who organised the panel. This is not news about a press/pr event, this is an extention of the press/pr event, masquerading as news.

If I went to pax and used a big fat bag of cash to have a panel about how world of warcraft was a direct copy of my home game of dungeons and dragons, so everyone should totally thank me for all the fun they're having playing wow, the escapist would hardly report the words of the panelists (no matter how credible they were) as if they were speaking gospel. And yet, for a major publisher of games, they're doing pretty much that.
 

LordSphinx

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Having read the whole speech from Kotick at taht investor conference, I can say they weren't quite taken out of context. He was literally trying to "reassure" the investors that Activision wouldn't let its employees see their job as nothing more than job, and that passion wasn't as important as doing products that sell and which doesn't have too much creativity in it.
 

Hungry Donner

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I'm not sure when was the last time I purchased an Activision title . . . the last one I played was Doom 3 which I finally got to last fall but it was a gift. And looking in to the future what do they have? Id is gone. Raven is dead. Blizzard is still a great developer but I dislike MMOs and Diablo 3 doesn't look appealing . . . although I'll certainly pick up Star Craft when they finish the single player campaign.

EA has a similarly bad reputation and history of dubious buisness practices but for me at least it has a far more appealing portfolio: Crysis, Mirror's Edge, Bioware, and probably more if I put some thought in to it.
 

happyelf

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LordSphinx said:
Having read the whole speech from Kotick at taht investor conference, I can say they weren't quite taken out of context. He was literally trying to "reassure" the investors that Activision wouldn't let its employees see their job as nothing more than job, and that passion wasn't as important as doing products that sell and which doesn't have too much creativity in it.
Yeah, that quote is in no way taken out of context, and if anything it's worse than the soundbyte sounds. Kotick is the archetypal bad ceo, and it's no suprise that he would talk drivel like that to investors.

Ceo's and other executives of that type are notorious for failing upwards, taking credit when their companies do well, and having little more than kotick style nonsence to offer to the companies they supposedly run. Litigation, sticking it to employees, failing to admit errors, throwing PR at problems instead of solutions, these are classic bad ceo moves.
 

Saelune

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Cant have Kotick AND a high opinion from me. Its one or the other.
 

DTWolfwood

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Oct 20, 2009
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right i guess they would be real smart to bite the hand that feeds them, in public no less.
 

Sylocat

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Jumwa said:
I hate to sound negative, but to add: why does the Escapist post these sorts of things without any thought or analysis?

It's far too close a mimicry of the mainstream news media who posts PR press releases verbatim.

This isn't even some games promotional material, it's just employees of a company giving corporate PR completely divorced from the products.
It's especially strange since The Escapist doesn't ordinarily just regurgitate blatant PR statements as gospel... is this a Jeff Gerstmann/Gamespot thing?
 

beema

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I thought it was more like a latex glove... you know, for the hand they shove up your ass to pull out your soul.
 

Eveonline100

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they kinda ah do(just with twithout say 30-40 members and there top designers) but either case i sure hope those devolpers dn't wind up losing there studio too while do support the idea that companies by default are greedy its nice to have one that has either a) A custmor first policy, or b) activly tries to build a good repuation while respecting other activtion has neither
 

Sean Strife

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Natdaprat said:
Sean Strife said:
Natdaprat said:
Sean Strife said:
Natdaprat said:
These are all lies! Lies and propaganda!

We need somebody to hate, to make ourselves feel better. Don't take that away from us.
Hate BioWare, then. They seem to be showing their true colors as of late.

...if you don't want to hate them, you COULD always hate Zynga, given their past business practices. As for me, while Kotick can be a bit of a douchebag, I did support them by buying Blur. Damn shame Bizarre Creations went under, though.
That is a damn good point. There's plenty of heartless game developers out there! BioWare seems to be selling out to the consoles (making their RPGs very simple), and Zynga are destroying the game industry by diverting attention to social games. Activision, you will have friends in hell.
Well, not so much Bioware selling out to consoles as it is the way they've been carrying themselves with the negative reviews Dragon Age II has gotten (ie; like total douchebags), and Zynga's not so much destroying the game industry as it is just promoting very shady business tactics (ie; scamming their customers to raise their company to the top of their industry and being unapologetic about it).

It's amazing how far Bioware's come: last year, they were in the finals of March Mayhem with Valve. This year, I don't see them making it very far. If they make it out of the first round, second round will probably be the end of the line for them.
The glorious thing about hate is you can hate for whatever reason you like. Sometimes, you don't even know why you hate. Activision I dislike at times, but overall, they've brought me some good games and hopefully some more. They're not quite the devil, not yet. That doesn't mean I like them.

Well yes, lately there's many reasons to dislike BioWare. For one, their stories are all the same and are riddled with clichés. They are just told extremely well. And with Dragon Age 2, they changed a game that wasn't broken, simplified the combat and filled it with so many video game clichés I got bored. This annoyed a good chunk of gamers. The negative/mediocre reviews mostly confirm this. I wouldn't be so sure to predict how well they do in March Mayhem, there's still a lot of fanboys out there.
I really don't see them doing too hot this year, which is a shame considering they were in the finals last year and, yes, have done some good games. But as for the negative/mediocre reviews, if you ask Bioware, it's 4chan's fault. This is why I don't see them doing too hot: bad timing as this backlash is VERY fresh.
 

saxybeast418

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A few people here have pointed out that the studios in question have had layoffs in the not too distant past. Instead of just bashing or defending Activision, let us take a look at the studios that have come to Activision's defense.

High Moon Studios: Have 2 decent-ish third person shooters under their belt, as well as one movie tie-in and one port. Upcoming project: Transformers movie tie-in. Their only distinction: having made the Transformers game that sucked the least.

Vicarious Visions: As far as I can tell, developed 3 original IPs, only one of which, Terminus, ever received any recognition. This was back in 2000. Primarily known as producers of shovelware for the Game Boy. Have ported countless IPs and console games to portable platforms and secondary platforms (such as the Wii and the PS2 in its later days). Most recent title developed for flagship platform: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.

Raven Software: Arguably the strongest pedigree of the three. Founded in 1990, acquired in 1997; most of the original talent departed the studio at time of acquisition. Early Activision Works: Soldier of Fortune series and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. While they didn't set the world on fire, both series were well-received. Developed fantastic Jedi Outcast and decent Jedi Academy in partnership with LucasArts. Proceeded to create the rough yet underrated X-Men Legends and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series, as well as an excellent entry in the Quake series. Recent works: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wolfenstein, and Singularity; all mediocre but decent titles, all of them disappointing commercially. Relatively recent mass layoffs. Current project: Call of Duty DLC, rumored to be next Call of Duty.

So there you have it. A novice studio enamored with Transformers, a middle-aged port factory, and an excellent veteran studio that has evidently had its creative backbone surgically removed.

On the Internet, we have a term for representatives like these: sock puppets.

samsonguy920 said:
Tell you what, if Treyarch comes forward and says the same thing, I may be inclined to believe this.
I heartily agree with this sentiment. High Moon, Vicarious Visions, and Raven software undoubtedly have incredibly talented people working for them. Even though they mainly deal in ports, Vicarious Visions products have been pretty consistent in their quality, and their ability to translate games to handhelds or less powerful systems should be commended.

The problem with these studios is that none of them have exhibited any sort creative soul (other than Raven, but they seem to have had theirs removed a few years ago). I am sure that Activision hasn't tried to dictate game design to these studios; they are happily designing soulless derivative schlock without Kotick's lawyers watching over their shoulders.