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Activision has “appetite for risk”, is more than yearly Call of Duty says CEO

Thursday, 5th September 2013 11:24 GMT By Dave Cook

Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg has stressed that the notion that all the publisher wants to do is push out a new Call of Duty each year is a “false narrative”, and that the company is open to taking risks.

Speaking with CVG, it was suggested to Hirshberg that in Call of Duty: Ghosts and Destiny, Activision is relying heavily on shooters. He replied, “First-person shooters have been stable for a number of generations now, and I don’t think that just because Destiny and Call of Duty are in the same genre that they are not diverse.

“I think they couldn’t be more different from one another. One is a deep, mythological sci-fi epic opera in space, the other is a gritty action movie that’s come to life. The games are very different from a pacing and design standpoint too, so I think there is diversity there, you just might not see it at face value.”

When asked if was perhaps safer to diversify Activision’s line of games further, Hirshberg continued, “But we have, you’re sitting next to a poster of Skylanders, which is a franchise that didn’t exist eighteen months ago. It’s a new IP, a new genre, a new play-pattern, untested in an area of the business that was shrinking. I feel like people breeze past that when they ask me about diversity. 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.

“We’re doing it again with Destiny – on one hand it’s a first-person shooter, on another it’s a new genre, it’s a shared-world shooter, bringing elements of the MMO into shooters, which is incredibly exciting. We’ve shown a consistent willingness to take risks, and a consistent ability to take the right bets.

“Guitar Hero gets brought up a lot in these conversations, for understandable reasons, but that was another game based on an unproven model that had an incredible commercial run. Just because the entire genre run 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.”

Pressing the issue, the site suggested that Skylanders proved its point that Activision can succeed if it takes risks. Hirsberg then countered, “I know, but you’re suggesting that we don’t do that already when we’re working on two new genres and new IPs at the same time. 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.

“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, but it works for us. It’s something that pre-dates me, it’s something Activision has done for many years.”

What do you think gamers? Is Activision allergic to risk or could its approach of fewer-but-stronger IP continue to bear fruit moving forward. Don’t forget, Black Ops 2 and Skylanders have been charting like mad since both games released. Love or hate them, they’re selling shitloads.

Share your thoughts below.

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7 Comments

  1. Kieran

    i wouldn’t class yearly releases risk taking especially the amount of people activision have working on it !!! they certainly have an appetite for money with frequent dlc etc.

    call of duty needs a time out its basically rehashed every year !!!

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Lengendaryboss

    “Love or hate them” You had me at hate.

    LOL Risk? What risk? trotting out another game in a franchise each year is a risk, more than two studios work on it a for god knows how long. Heres a risk: bed the franchise.

    LOL Risk u funny.

    “when in fact we’ve shown some real innovation and appetite for risk.”
    Dat fish AI and Doggie is innovation, let me laugh its the equal to rocket science stuff man. :D

    #2 1 year ago
  3. onlineatron

    hey, activision are pretty wily: each year they risk me becoming interested in call of duty. but they always manage to avoid that bullet.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Fin

    If you take away Call of Duty, Activision are actually a pretty bad publisher.

    From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Activision_games – their 2013 lineup so far has been, with Metacritic scores:

    Angry Birds Star Wars (iOS 88%)
    Deadpool (~60%)
    Fast & Furious: Showdown (~20%)
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (~37%)
    The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (~38%)

    #4 1 year ago
  5. ududy

    Hirshberg’s ideas of what is creative are typical of senior management at a big entertainment company. Their whole purpose is to suck up to the widest common denominator, creativity and personal vision are almost alien concepts to them.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. hitnrun

    Isn’t it enough to be financially successful without trying to argue like a defense attorney that you’re also cool and creative, too?

    #6 1 year ago
  7. lookingglass

    Acti-Blizz is fine. They DO take risks, their risks succeed, and then they are stuck being evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

    Duty is wildly successful. It’s dumb to completely change the formula for a variety of reasons. It’s fan base would be extremely upset if it was changed too much for one.

    #7 1 year ago

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