Published on April 4th, 2013 | by IceCube

How Activision are changing their ways

The past couple of years have been a roller-coaster ride for Activision.

Last month, Activision laid-off numerous employees from Treyarch, the team that put together Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Now, reports have emerged that Activision has let go of 40 developers at High Moon Studios, the guys behind Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and the upcoming Deadpool game.

Activision recently responded to media queries about the staff cuts, stating the drastic moves are to “align production costs with revenues.”

This bad news comes after previous events that would have a board of managers banging their heads against the desk, like:

  • 2010: Activision strangely cancels True Crime: Hong Kong, only to watch Square Enix scoop it up, rebrand it Sleeping Dogs, and achieve 80+ metacritic scores across all platforms.
  • 2010: Woefully-weak sales of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and DJ Hero 2, lead (in part) to Activision shutting its once-powerful Guitar Hero franchise, and leaving retailers with an overabundance of plastic toy guitars and turntables.
  • 2011: The two key figureheads behind the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, West and Zampella, went packing to rival publisher, EA.
  • 2012: Shuts down Radical Entertainment after lackluster Prototype 2 sales

So how does Activision plan to change things? After all, if the games they’re choosing to make are not bad, maybe it’s just the games they’re choosing to make?

The answer from Activision’s main team in Minneapolis is to realign the structure of its business by “releasing fewer games based on third-party licenses” next year.

And it’s sounds like a very good idea. Last year’s game lineup of another Transformers game, another Call of Duty game, another Spider-man game and another 007 Bond game, released a subtle *sigh* deep-down in our disappointed hearts.

New IP’s are risky, but exciting, and it’s exactly what this top-dog publisher needs (provided they trust the brand and execute it well).

The biggest buzz from the E3 Expo last year arguably came from Sony’s The Last of Us and Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs – both brand new ideas not affiliated with third-party licences or sequels.

For the record, Activision is far from being in danger of shutting down – in fact it’s quite the opposite. The company still achieves jaw-dropping sales from the annual dose of Call of Duty games, and Skylanders Giants (game and toy line) have been a huge hit with the kids. These two titles, combined with net profits from affiliate company Blizzard (Diablo III, World of Warcraft) still gave Activision record sales.

As part of the company’s ongoing changes, they also scooped Bungie, the development team behind the ridiculously popular Halo series. Combine this with some new and exciting IP’s – and the team undoubtedly has a strong case for success.

Activision may have dealt with tough times recently, but we’re incredibly excited to see where these wise new steps take them.

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